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Peace Education

Leadership Conference in Korea: From a Museum of War to the Palace of Peace

The 320 Ambassadors for Peace from 91 countries participating in the latest International Leadership Conference (ILC) in Seoul experienced a dramatic lesson in the history of the Korean peninsula April 3-8, 2008.

As a part of the overall program, the delegation visited the Peace Palace in the mountains outside Seoul near the North Korean border for a briefing from UPF Chairman Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak. They then made their way to the Korean War Museum in the capital to see for themselves the sorrowful history of the Korean war and witness the country’s amazing recovery from devastation.

"Visiting this museum made me feel again the big loss of human life during war,” said Wu Cheng Yu, an Ambassador for Peace making his first visit to Korea. “How to prevent war and make peace? That is the challenge facing all Ambassadors for Peace.”

Keynote speakers at the ILC included the Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr., former Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Philippines, and Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, co-chair of the UPF. “We need a global ethic for global peace,” said de Venecia, “and we have a model in the Golden Rule that we should treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. It seems so simple, but it is in a sense a summary of the minimum moral attitudes and binding standards that make for peace.”

The main focus of the ILC is to consider the way to a new paradigm of leadership and good governance in the Pacific era. Along these lines, the delegates repeatedly emphasized the need to explore opportunities for interfaith dialogue as a tool for peacebuilding and diplomacy.

“The world is already one family,” said Rabbi Michael Weisser of Lincoln, Nebraska, “but the problem is that we are a very dysfunctional family. We need to learn how to heal each other.”

In other sessions the delegates studied the Peace Education curriculum of the UPF, including presentations on the importance of spiritual values in peacemaking, the origin of conflict, and the principles of restoration and reconciliation. One participant was so moved by the latter session that he immediately telephoned a friend in the United States from whom he had been estranged for many years, and effected a reconciliation right over the phone!

Perhaps this was not an earth-shaking step toward world peace. Yet, if everyone could start by reconciling with even one other person in various spheres of human endeavor, could we not soon transform this world?

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