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UPF-Australia Advocates Common Human Identity at Peace Conference


Melbourne, Australia—In celebration of the UN International Day of Peace 2023, UPF-Australia organized a blended face-to-face and online conference with 50 people from four states in attendance. The essence of the event was “Headwing – A Common Humanity Identity Approach to Peacebuilding,” a peacebuilding approach proposed by UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon in 1986.


During the conference, issues surrounding reconciliation and justice were addressed in line with the 2023 theme for the day, “Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoals.” Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions is particularly relevant within the Australia context at this time as the country will be holding a referendum in October on including within its Constitution an Aboriginal “Voice to Parliament.”


Recognizing the cultural heritage of Australia's First Nations peoples in the Constitution was seen by the participants as an important step towards reconciliation and justice. It was acknowledged that there is a need for distributive justice due to the ongoing disadvantages faced by Australian Indigenous citizens. The speakers shared their views about how Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians can talk, walk and work together to make this ancient culture an integral expression of Australia’s nationhood for the benefit of all.


The conference co-sponsors were the Centre for Global Nonkilling, the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Global Opportunities Commercialisation and the Global Somali Diaspora.


The emcees were Mrs. Tua Manase-Ale, president of the Samoa chapter of the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), an affiliated organization, and member of WFWP Victoria’s VIC Advisory Committee, and Mr. Will Abdo, who serves as the assistant to the president of UPF-Victoria.


Educating with Values Report


Launched at the conference was the report, “Educating with Values: A Holistic Approach to Integrating Values in Education.” It represents the contributions of Australian and international presenters who spoke at the Values Education Summits UPF-Australia convened between 2021 and 2022. The contributors come from a broad spectrum of society and includes academicians and educators, community leaders and business leaders.


The report will be distributed widely to politicians and decision makers.


Speakers


Introductory remarks were given by Rev. Yutaka Yamada, chair of UPF-Oceania. He encouraged the participants to learn from Dr. Moon’s Headwing thought and reflect on how peace can best be achieved in Australia. Before his appointment as the chair of UPF-Oceania, Rev. Yamada served in various roles promoting peacebuilding and has trained thousands of youths around the world. Previously, he was the president of UPF-Malaysia, director of the Youth Leadership Program in 10 nations throughout Asia and served as a youth leader in Korea. He holds a master’s degree in theology from Sun Moon University in Korea.


The following speaker was Ambassador for Peace Ms. Pearl Wymarra, a distinguished teacher and researcher in the restoration of people's emotional health and social well-being who is from the Gudang Aboriginal clan and for many years provided leadership by addressing the crisis of violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. She spoke on the topic of “Restoring Good and Proper Cultural Ways of Love, Joy and Peace” and talked about the values she inherited from her family as a model way to achieve harmony through being loving and respectful to all. She also shared her very personal story of how her son committed suicide after being bullied and urged everyone to create a culture of respect, not one of name calling.


Ms. Wymarra is an honorary fellow at the University of Western Sydney and holds a master’s degree in health science and a diploma in primary teaching.


The third speaker was Dr, John Bellavance, vice president of UPF-Australia and coordinator of the International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP)-Oceania, who spoke on the topic, “Headwing – A Common Humanity Identity Approach to Peacebuilding.” Thirty years ago Dr. Moon said “that neither left-wing ideology, nor right-wing ideology will work. We need a movement through which a new advanced right-wing type can be supported by the left-wing, and a new advanced left-wing type that can be supported by the right-wing.”


Such a Headwing approach is truly needed in our social climate of increasing polarization. The common-enemy identity that we see in politics, mainstream media and social media tries to unite a coalition using the psychology of us-versus-them them to promote their cause and get attention. This causes the public to lose a sense of the values that we share and binds us as people.


A common-humanity identity, a Headwing approach seeks to find common ground based on shared spiritual and moral values. Dr. Bellavance reflected on, “What if the Yes and No sides [of the “Voice to Parliament” referendum] got together to find a way forward?” This question has not been raised in the Australian media. Rather, polarization has occurred over the constitutional changes that are being proposed through the referendum. The long-term benefits of the Aboriginal “Voice to Parliament” cannot be achieved through political processes alone, but must involve a commitment to truth, shared values and personal change.


The next speaker was Ms. Sophie York, a speaker, writer and barrister who is a university lecturer at Sydney University and the University of Notre Dame and a Naval legal officer in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve. She spoke on the topic of “Australia the Lucky Country – United in Making Respectful Room for Each Other!” With her extensive experience as a professor of law ethics, Ms. York raised concerns about rushing through constitutional change without knowing fully how the proposed changes will work out. She argued that we all agree that better outcomes are needed for Indigenous Australians, but not at the expense of future peace, national unity and equality with all fellow Australians. She pointed out that changes to the Constitution that are being proposed through the referendum require further examination for us to forge the way forward to reconciliation and unity.


The fifth speaker was Pastor Daniel Meadows, the Victorian director of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU)-Australia. He has led several youth nonprofit organizations and initiatives over 15 years, including Youth and Students for Peace and Camp Belgrave, which he founded and directs.


Mr. Meadows spoke on the topic, “Peace Begins in My Family.” He reflected on the topic of Headwing and how this applies to family values. He asked: “How can we raise wiser children who will not fall prey to the untruth of us-versus-them and the self-righteous ‘call-out’ culture it breeds. How can we foster a way of thinking about a common-humanity?” He went on to say that when children fight in the family, the parents’ love and values come in to reconcile the conflict. Just as parental values bring harmony, the broader society should also reflect such values and practices.


Mr. Meadows is undertaking a master’s degree in peace studies, and together with his wife, is raising a family of five children.


The final presenter was Mr. Mohamed Mohideen OAM, a Victorian multicultural commissioner and also chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC)’s Regional Advisory Committee for Gippsland, who spoke on “The Need for all Australians to Engage with First Nations People and Make an Informed Decision on the Referendum.” He talked about his values as a Muslim and explained that whenever a Muslim visits another persons’ home, it is Islamic custom to acknowledge the owners of the home with a greeting of peace. He argued that recognizing the traditional owners in the Constitution is an important step towards reconciliation.


Mr. Mohideen is a microbiologist by profession with over 30 years’ experience in the field. He was an academic at Monash University’s Department of Microbiology for over 20 years and sits on the Victorian Department of Health’s Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities (CALD) Advisory Group.


Reflections from Participants


“This event will be recommended to my community members.”


“[There was] respectful sharing of various views of controversial topics. Such civil dialogue is precious to find.”


“[The presentations were] thought provoking and relevant. [It was] very well organized.”


“The learning is in the discussions.”


“Comprehensive and amazing.”


By UPF-Australia
Saturday, September 16, 2023

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