Day of Peace Observed in London

 UPF-UK organized forums about peace initiatives in various parts of the world in commemoration of the International Day of Peace: in South London on September 18, at Lancaster Gate in London on September 19, and in the borough of Bromley on September 20.

South London - Freedom of movement is an essential right which is the basis for the exercise of other human rights, concluded the UPF South London conference. About 35 participants attended UPF’s event entitled “Building a World of Peace” on September 18 at the Peace Embassy building in Thornton Heath. The meeting spotlighted tensions experienced by Palestinians and the Sudanese and featured expert commentaries from speakers with first-hand knowledge of the situations on the ground.

First, Doris Richards spoke about her remarkable experiences with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, which provides a protective presence in the occupied territories and monitors human rights abuses. The harsh conditions endured by Palestinians seeking to cross through the separation barrier checkpoints, the inequity of facilities, and the severe restrictions on construction by Palestinians were all highlighted as impediments to normal living conditions in the occupied territories. Doris explained how people could help the situation in Palestine through concerted actions such as boycotting produce from the Israeli settlements.

Chigo Ahunanya, a Maltese student at London University, then spoke about youth service projects in Israel co-sponsored by UPF which he has been organising over the past four years. As well as serving local communities through teaching children and building classrooms, the groups met with Israeli students and brought them to Palestinian areas to open their minds and create a bridge of communication between young people.

In the second segment of the programme,  the UPF Secretary General, Robin Marsh, gave an insightful presentation on the principles of peace espoused by UPF and how they have been put into practice through peace initiatives such as the Middle East Peace Initiative. He illustrated how interfaith efforts were making an impact in the Middle East in bringing reconciliation and a desire to work together for peace. He mentioned UPF's 'top-down, bottom up Track II Diplomacy' that was highly appreciated during Nepal's peace process.

The final segment of the programmeMr Idris - Sudan focused on the tensions in Sudan particularly in the border regions between the newly independent South Sudan and its parent neighbor. In a scholarly and informative presentation, Mr. Al-harith Idriss, a former Sudanese diplomat, explained how contention over grazing rights, forcible relocations, and ownership of natural resources have cast a shadow over the birth of the world’s newest nation. The speaker suggested an agenda for peace based on interconnectedness between the two nations, with flexibility over borders, inter-ethnic cooperation, and pursuit of legal entitlement to human rights including empowerment of women.

In the final presentation, Mekki Elsayed demonstrated how a model of cooperation between neighbouring countries and religious tolerance could be achieved through the River Nile Civilization Marathon which he had organized in Sudan. He expressed his opinion that applying the UPF principle of recognizing that we are one family under God is the path to peace in Sudan and invited the UPF family to visit his home nation to help bring this message across.

All the speakers responded to a variety of thoughtful questions from the audience, and the event coordinator brought the meeting to a close by thanking the speakers for their tremendous contributions.

London - The event at the UPF headquarters, 43 Lancaster Gate, on September 19 featured a presentation by Robin Marsh on the efforts of UPF to support the United Nations in various initiatives, especially to promote dialogue between the different religions of the world. There followed a number of contributions from the audience, who came from many different faith backgrounds. Jack Corley, Chair of UPF in the UK, in concluding remarks spoke of the vision and continuing passion of UPF's Founder, the 91-year-old Father Sun Myung Moon, to build a peaceful world.

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Rev. Jomo O'Coco of the Brotherhood of Cross and Star commented on the ignorance of political leaders who did not understand the importance of religious leaders' views on contemporary issues. Sue Pattison emphasized that the leadership of our nation should give a better example to our youth. Ahmadiyya Muslim Association senior figure, Mr. Nasir Khan, explained the policy of Humanitad to deliver humanitarian aid to people in need regardless of their faith affiliation. Sheikh Hojjatt Ramzy, the Chair of the Muslim Council of Britain's Education Committee, gave the concluding prayer. 

Robin Marsh explained that in the ten years since 9/11 there have been great tensions between the Islamic and Christian civilizations. There are other religious and non-religious based tensions between different civilizations in various parts of the world. Father Sun Myung Moon, Universal Peace Federation's (UPF) founder, seeks to promote the understanding of humanity as one family under God. He saw from the 1970s the need for dialogue between different faiths and civilizations and sought to create institutions that would facilitate those forums for that dialogue and for greater mutual understanding. This culminated in the inauguration of the UPF in its role to support the United Nations and the promotion of dialogue by an interreligious council within the UN structure and national Parliaments or Assemblies.

UPF perceives dialogue and human interaction with your 'neighbor' as the most fundamental step towards building a world of peace. This means to find  a way for people of all backgrounds, cultures, faiths, and races to meet each other and learn about the “other.” UPF has two major principles in this respect:

1.    To live as one family of humanity under God

2.    To live in service of others

UPF brings people together from varied backgrounds and offers an equal platform for all to share their values and the tenets of their faith and also to have an opportunity to speak about their dream and vision for building a world of peace. In so doing we soon begin to respect and further love one another as we together discover our common universal God-given spiritual values.

‘For years I have called for a world where all religions live together as one, all races live as one, and all nations exist as one. For thousands of years history has seen the continuous increase of divisions. Each time a different religion was adopted or a new regime came into power, more boundaries were drawn and wars were fought. Now, however, we live in an age of globalism. For the sake of the future we must become one.’

The United Nations has done much for world peace. More than sixty years after its founding, however, the United Nations is losing sight of its original purpose and is now an organization that works for the interests of a few powerful countries. The U.N. was created to solve the conflicts that arise in the world, so it must put the world’s interests before the interests of one side or the other. It only leads to further conflict when a powerful country insists on its own way and uses force to pursue it. Unfortunately, the U.N. today is unable to do much about such situations.

In this light, I have proposed a restructuring of the United Nations as a bicameral institution. In addition to the General Assembly there would be a religious, or cultural, assembly or council. This body would consist of respected spiritual leaders in fields such as religion, culture, and education. The members of this interreligious assembly would need to demonstrate an ability to transcend the limited interests of particular religions and cultures and to speak for the spiritual and moral purposes of all humanity.

I maintain that the two chambers, working together in mutual respect and cooperation, will be able to make great advances in ushering in a world of peace. Some may oppose this, saying, “Why should religious people become involved in world affairs?” My answer is that the world today is in a period when the participation of religious people is crucial. Those who have achieved deep self-awareness through religious practice are needed now more than ever. It is only truly religious people who can stand up to the unrighteousness and evil of the world and practice true love. It is only when the knowledge and experience of political leaders are combined with the wisdom of interreligious leaders that the world will be able to find the path to true peace. Again today I set out on my path with renewed determination to achieve that goal. My prayer is that every person on earth will be reborn as a peace-loving global citizen, transcending barriers of religion, ideology, and race.’  (As a Peace Loving Global Citizen by Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon page 340)

Bromley - The words from the UN Secretary-General for the UN International Day of Peace are:

"Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples…This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace."

The Universal Peace Federation in Bromley sought to commemorate the ideals of peace among all nations and peoples by bringing together people to participate in a peace event. Four speakers and an audience of about 30 gathered at St. Mary’s Church Hall, 62 College Rd. Bromley for the event.

The speakers were:

Dr. Nikila Pandya from North Kent on inner individual peace leading to family peace, peace in society, peace in the country, and world peace

Ms. Prudentienne Seward, a Rwandan, speaking on the Rwanda conflict.

Mr. Adam Matan, from Somalia, sharing the vision of the Anti-Tribalism Movement

Mr. Jack Corley sharing the UPF vision: From a Culture of Conflict to a Culture of Peace

The MC, Mr. Edward Hartley, began the proceedings, read the words of the UN Secretary-General for the UN International Day of Peace, and invited Dr. Pandya to speak.

She gave a delightful speech based on many stories which emphasized the need for people to find inner, individual peace leading to family peace before world peace can be fully contemplated. Everyone will carry away with them her image of the man carrying around his ever-heavier sack of rotten potatoes representing all of the wrongs ever done to him.

Ms. Prudentienne Seward spoke about the real story behind conflicts occurring in her home country of Rwanda as they developed over the years and how she lost her mother, her sister, and later, in an unrelated incident, her British husband. One could understand the craziness of hate and violence of one people against another, in this case Hutus and Tutsis, where they should be seeking resolution and co-existence. People now have the tools to achieve these if people will just use them.

Mr. Adam Matan, a Somalian just 23 years old, shared the vision of the Anti-Tribalism Movement; 53,000 people around the world so far are seeking to get rid of the racism and bigotry shown by people who condemn and restrict the movement of others purely based upon their tribal origins.

As Adam said “We all come from Adam and Eve so why this prejudice?”

The feeling was that their aims are great, but as they say themselves, they need a little help with ideological tools (spiritual and practical teachings) to achieve these aims.

UPF surely has a number of things it can offer, as was demonstrated by Jack Corley, now the Chair of UPF-UK, as he shared the UPF vision: From a Culture of Conflict to a Culture of Peace.

This showed how both the wrong-doer and the wronged can contribute to conflict resolution and how having one shared set of values clears the way to finding agreement.

Mr. Corley’s talk was preceded by the showing of a short video about highlights from the work of UPF worldwide in 2010 as an introduction for those who know little yet about the Universal Peace Federation.

All of these presentations were very well received by the audience.

The evening was finally brought to a close by the MC but not before offering an Ambassador for Peace certificate to Ms. Prudentienne Seward for the good work she is doing.

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