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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

December 2022
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Peace Education

Leadership Seminars on India's Legacy of Faith, Family and Peace

The idea for a national tour on the theme of India's Common Legacy of Faith, Family and Peace was conceived during a International Leadership Convocation held in Washington, DC in April (just three weeks before the tour began). At this convocation of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, Leaders from seven nations—Korea, Japan, China, the United States, Russia, India, and Mongolia—held sessions related to the conference theme: “Leadership for Global Transformation: Exploring the Vision, Methodology, and Best Practices Necessary for a New Era of Lasting Peace.”

The wholehearted response and serious commitment of all 33 delegates from India attending this convocation deeply moved the heart of the founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon. He responded in-kind by sponsoring a five-city national tour that covered the length and breath of India. Regional Co-Chairs Drs. Christopher and Julia Kim were joined by Mrs. Ursula McLackland, India Secretary General, and Dr. Robert Kittel, Director of Peace Education. They visited Guwahati, Goa, Pune, New Delhi, and Jalandhar.

In each city, the welcome was warm and gracious; the response overwhelming. India is a land of diversity but the common thread connecting the mosaic of cultures and cuisines is the culture of heart: a familial openness and innocence that in most countries seems almost lost in the race for material gain.

Our Common Legacy

The program in each venue addressed the theme, “Our Common Legacy of Faith, Family and Peace” and consisted of four basic topics. Dr. Kim began by outlining the broad, extensive foundation of our work for peace. Subtitles in his presentation included:

  • World Peace Through Interreligious Harmony

  • World Peace Through Media Responsibility and Ethical Guidance

  • World Peace Through Women of Faith

  • World Peace Through Culture, Arts and Sports

  • World Peace Through God-Centered Education and Academics

  • World Peace Through International Friendship and Service Activities

  • World Peace Through Good Governance

  • World Peace Through Leisure Industry

  • World Peace Through UN Renewal


Obviously, world peace permeates every aspect of this federation, so naturally, the second topic of the seminar dealt with the “Principles of Peace.” Here specific tenets of peace-building were explained. Basically, IIFWP sees peace as relational. Therefore, the most fundamental human relationships were explored, for example: the relationship between mind and body; masculine and feminine relationships, the relationship between the physical world and spiritual world, and ultimately the relationships between God and humankind.

A natural follow-up to this was the third area of focus that dealt with why there is struggle and conflict in these essential relationships. This presentation was titled, “The Cause of Human Conflict” and dealt with the root of the problem, the basic obstacle for peace, which IIFWP understands as the breakdown of the family at the very beginning of human history. Quotations from various religious scriptures supported this assumption and demonstrated one of the most universal themes found in the world’s religions, namely, that the misuse of love lies at the heart of broken relationships.

Dr. Kittel demonstrated the practical application of these key peace principles. Even though initial reports from India indicate there may be a substantial drop in new HIV infections this year, there are still well over 5 million Indians living with HIV/AIDS. The title of this talk was: “Combating HIV/AIDS: What works... What doesn’t...” The speaker presented a view of the ineffectiveness over the past four decades of contraceptive and sex education programs in the United States in controlling sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancies. Then, using data published in peer-reviewed literature, examined condom success rates in preventing and controlling this pandemic in Africa. In conclusion, models of success that focused on partner reduction—over risk reduction—were highlighted.


Dr. Jayanta Madhav, current Economic Advisor to the Assamese government (formerly with the Asian Development Bank)

Guwahati

The purpose of our tour was to plant seeds, focusing primarily on local leadership and youth. Approximately 150 guests (50 more than expected due to newspaper ads) came to the Hotel Brahmapurta Ashok, with the majority being bright, clear-hearted youth.

Dr. Jayanta Madhav recently returned from the IIFWP Convocation in Washington DC. As the Economic Advisor to the Assamese government, he was deeply touched by his experience with IIFWP in the United States. “It was truly an interreligious and international conference. I saw many religious leaders and peace workers... I was very impressed by the statement mentioned in one of the literatures produced by IIFWP, which said that no institution of global governance would be effective if it does not affirm moral and spiritual values. For this reason the IIFWP repeatedly emphasizes the practice of living for the sake of others.”


Former Chief Minister of Assam and current opposition leader Mr. P.K. Mahanta and his wife.

Father Thomas, Director of the Don Bosco Institute, was so inspired by the presentations; an impromptu program was arranged for students at his institute the following morning with all the esteemed dignitaries in attendance.

Mr. P.K. Mahanta, former Chief Minister and current MLA, addressed the guests and seminar delegates. He shared his concerns about “corroding traditional values” brought about by the advent of science and technology. Expressing gratitude and support for the ideals of this organization, he said, “The IIFWP rightly addresses our concerns for matters of family life, youth behavior, and the erosion of values, beliefs and faiths.”

This program was completely organized and sponsored by the local Ambassadors for Peace, meaning all of the preparations and the implementation—including the finances—were from local resources.


(L to R) Dr. Julia Kim, Shri Shri Shri Sadguru Parwadeshwar Maharaj and his assistant, Shri Bhau Maharaj, Dr. Christopher Kim and Dr. Robert Kittel.

Goa
The utter humility of our host was astounding. Shri Shri Shri Sadguru Parwadeshwar Maharaj and Shri Bhau Maharaj sat in front of his own people and listened carefully to every word Dr. Christopher Kim spoke during his dynamic PowerPoint presentations on Father Moon’s Achievements and the Principles of Peace. Dr. and Mrs. Kim commented later that they were very impressed that the audience was so sincere, so patient and so respectful. They were following their Sadguru.

Men and women, about 100, sat separately on opposite sides of the room. The AIDS presentation was based on the flipchart series IIFWP developed in Africa called “A Zero-Transmission Lifestyle.” It had been adapted to Indian culture, with corresponding religious citations and a quote from Gandhi-ji, the father of modern India. In the end each young person was given the opportunity to stand in front of the audience, and recite the Pure Love Pledge. Married couples then took vows and rededicated themselves to each other. This pattern was duplicated in the other venues.

Pune

Dr. V. D. Karad is the President of the World Peace Center and the Maharastra Institute of Technology; his foundation is impressive. Without governmental assistance, he has built, and is building, a variety of learning institutions including: engineering colleges, merchant navy technical institutes, a dam that will form a lake for naval training and a sports club, dormitories for a boarding school (based on the traditional Indian model of education, Gurukul, where the teacher literally lives with the students), social service programs to provide clean drinking water and an outdoor amphitheater to address 100,000+ people. All designed by Dr. Karad himself and networked digitally.


Dr. V.D. Karad, Founder World Peace Center and MIT, with Dr. Christopher Kim, the Keynote Speaker.

Despite the school break, almost 300 faculty, staff and students attended the 1-day program. In his welcome address, Dr. Karad shared his personal experience with the IIFWP and its Founders, Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. Prof. Vijay S. Rao, Director of International Relations and Secretary of the World Peace Centre commended “Rev. Moon is doing excellent work and absolute commitment for the Cause of Human Welfare and World Peace. IIFWP is an ‘Island of Hope’ for all the peoples of the world to look towards.” Hon. Dr. Vijay Bhatkar, well-known computer scientist and eminent educationist, inaugurated the seminar. Dr. Edison Samraj, publisher and chief guest of the closing session, attended each session of the day and concluded that it was a day well-spent as he had learned a lot.

Concluding this program, a metal plaque titled “Citation of Honour,” was presented to Dr. and Mrs. Kim. It reads, in part, “We would like to place on record your tremendous sense of devotion, dedication and commitment in championing the noble cause of peace through the practices of “Family Values” and the message of “True Love”, as propounded by the Honourable Dr. Sun Myung Moon... We sincerely feel that, the future generations will cherish the message of “True Love and Ideal Parenthood.”

New Delhi

Dr. L.M. Singhvi, Sr. Supreme Court Advocate and former High Commissioner to the UK, opened the morning session of the Delhi seminar and, as always, his honesty, simplicity, and sincerity was ever-present. He told the 200 participants that, at first, he was reluctant, even somewhat negative, about the IIFWP. Two concerns fueled his skepticism: the issue of conversion and the negative image of the Founder. Since these concerns are in many minds, this report will quote at length from Dr. Singhvi’s introductory remarks.


(L to R) Dr. Christopher Kim, his wife Dr. Julia Kim, and Dr. L.M. Singhvi during a break at the New Delhi seminar.

“I did not know the organization personally very well, but as we say, “Seeing is believing.” I was privileged to discover the remarkable vision of Dr. and Mrs. Moon, to get to know them, to listen to them, to meet them, and to share [their concern] for humanity’s peace, for family welfare and for civilization.

“I spend 5-7 days in Seoul [last year]. They were filled with a lot of interaction, with what I call the culture of the heart, the culture of the mind, and the culture of the soul. I was delighted that there was an organization so well organized, so streamlined, so depth-oriented and so soul-oriented. This was a discovery for me... I believe that religions must come together for peace and for a value based human society and that we have commonalities for our common future and for our shared habitat.
“I also find that religions have a long history of recrimination of wars, of hatred and dislike for each other. They sometimes appear to operate in a world of cut-throat competition and I am put off when I find that kind of thing going on.

“Here was a beautiful spearhead of good ideas. Good ideas need thrust... an honest pure thrust. Good ideas need a culture of the heart, a culture of the mind and a culture of the soul.

“What impressed me most is that Dr. and Mrs. Moon were not on a journey of conversion; they want to create a fellowship of faiths consecrated by a commitment to peace and family values... I found it very elevating that there was lofty idealism in the whole mission and the whole vision of interreligious interaction and cooperation.”


Dr. Christopher B.W. Kim, the IIFWP-Asia Co-Chair, addressing the Leadership Seminar in New Delhi.

That afternoon, the former Minister of State for External Affairs and current MP, Mr. Eduardo Faleiro, spoke. He explained, “I thought that I must come here and express my support for the philosophy of Rev. Moon which is very important for the world and very important for our own country today...” Like Dr. Singhvi and others, the issue of conflict and competition among religious traditions was the first hurdle. Mr. Faleiro feared the clash of religions which he understood was at the root of the clash of civilizations and knew from first-hand experience that this was a “very dangerous type of turmoil [that] can create chaos...”

This seasoned Indian diplomat said that, “...as a Member of Parliament over the last several years, one of my main concerns has been seeing this growth of religious disharmony and conflict... What is important today [is] that all of us must support every single movement for religious harmony, for bringing people together above religions, across religions; and that is what Rev. Moon’s movement is doing.

“Therefore,” he continued, “new spiritual movements are coming across, above and beyond established religions, bringing the message of God, the message of harmony of togetherness, of peace, and that is what IIFWP is doing. This [is] very practical as it is being done at the people’s level as well as the level of the United Nations. This message of peace and harmony is so relevant to our times and so relevant to our country.”

Jalandhar

Dr. Lakhbir Singh, the founder and director of Pahal, a local NGO, worked almost single-handedly to organize this seminar. However, he was supported and encouraged by Dr. Jatinder Pal Singh Jolly, Mr. Baljit Singh and his son Amanjyot Singh who recently returned from an RYS project in Bangkok, and Baljit’s brother, Amarjit Singh—all alumni of Religious Youth Service. In this sense, the seed for this program had been sown in the Punjab decades ago.

Pahal, whose name means “initiative,” is active in many fields, including: social service, HIV/AIDS prevention, sports, education and agriculture and is a very well respected organization both locally and internationally.


Shri Ashok Gupta, the Deputy Commissioner of Jalandhar was the Chief Guest. Dr. Lakhbir Singh, the founder of Pahal, was the co-sponsor and primary organizer.

Shri Ashok Gupta, Indian Administrative Services Deputy Commissioner of Jalandhar, was Chief Guest. “It gives me immense pleasure,” he told the crowd of 150, “to attend the seminar on the real issue of peace. I congratulate IIFWP and Pahal. Our land of India is blessed with godly messages of peace by Guru Nanak, Baba Farid and other great saints. It is the need of the hour that East and West should unite in peace-making efforts.”

After the program one Sikh lady came up and said that she had been married for 21 years and now her husband was seeking a divorce. Her eyes were filled with tears as she said, “I only wish my husband could have been here. These presentations could save our marriage.” Over lunch one Sikh gentleman commented, “India is going up economically, but going down morally. This movement can save India’s rich heritage and family culture.”

Dr. Lakhbir Singh had a group of young people who were selflessly diligent. They served as the support staff that helped make this program run smoothly from start to finish.

Next Steps

Due to the tremendous response from the local community, IIFWP is planning to open centers in each of the cities visited. Young volunteers from Nepal and other parts of India have begun their work in Assam and are delivering the message of ‘Pure Love’ to schools, colleges, NGOs and other social institutions, including Guwahati University. They are receiving the same response everywhere: “Your message is the need of the hour.” Soon volunteers from Thailand, Taiwan and Korea will join them. Drs. Christopher and Julia Kim are planning a national 12-city tour in August touching every major center of the country.

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