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Day of Peace Commemorated in the Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh, Scotland - "The Way to Permanent Peace" was the theme of a meeting in the Scottish Parliament on September 12 in commemoration of the International Day of Peace.

This was a historic occasion, the first meeting of the Universal Peace Federation in the Scottish Parliament. It was also poignant due to the fact that UPF founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon had passed away just nine days before.

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Christina McKelvie, member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Lanark and convener of the European and External Relations Committee, extended a warm welcome to the gathering, which numbered about 70. She quoted from the UPF mission statement, recognizing the importance of UPF’s work in healing community divisions. She had recently returned from a visit to Montenegro in the Balkans. She also concurred with the idea of a renewal of the United Nations and with emphasizing the roles of family and sports in social cohesion. She expressed her condolences on the recent passing of Father Moon and gave a brief review of his life, beginning with his birth in Korea 1920 to his mission in America and the world.  She concluded with the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

Hamish Robertson, representing UPF-Scotland, then gave a brief appraisal of Father Moon’s concepts of family and society based on the fundamental relationships of parent-child and husband-wife deriving from God’s love. True love is unselfish and serving. Father Moon created a multitude of organizations and companies with the purpose of serving the world. He opposed the Japanese occupation of Korea during his youth, but was the first to forgive the enemy in their defeat. He was the most determined opponent of communism in its heyday, but embraced Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 as the Soviet Union crumbled. In 1991 he even met Kim Il Sung, the North Korean dictator ultimately responsible for torturing him and sending him to a death camp in the 1940s. He forgave Kim Il Sung wholeheartedly. Last year Father Moon flew to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, to meet President Goodluck Jonathan and speak at a UPF conference dedicated to peace in Africa. Finally, Father Moon encouraged women in every country to enter parliament and give their own special impetus to peace processes.

John Finnie, former police officer, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, and convener of the cross-party group on human rights, started his talk with a few words of welcome in Gaelic, the ancient language of Scotland. He applauded the concept of Ambassadors for Peace in a world where politics tends to concentrate on differences and lead to unpleasant rivalries. He expressed appreciation that it had been United Nations forces which had made it possible for Father Moon to be liberated from the prison camp.  These days, the United Nations has abdicated much of that power to NATO, which represents a group of nations but cannot fulfill the role of the UN. He spoke of the need for “honest brokers” to overcome divisions between nations and communities. An Arms Trade Treaty is necessary to curb the international traffic in arms. A colossal amount of expenditure has been wasted on NATO interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and these resources could have been applied much more usefully to peaceful purposes.

David Fraser Harris, representing UPF in the Middle East, where he spent the last 14 years, spoke afterwards. Pointing to the connection between the UN’s theme of sustainable peace and this event’s title, he read excerpts from statements by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UPF on the International Day of Peace. After pointing out that UPF had been founded exactly seven years earlier, on September 12, 2005, he traced some of its earlier roots, both in the field of interfaith and in the region of the Middle East. These ranged from Father Moon’s 1965 visit and dedication of places of prayer in Jerusalem and Mount Nebo as well as other cities in the region to the creation of the Middle East Times newspaper and the urgent gathering of religious leaders in Cairo at the outbreak of the first Gulf War. David included with anecdotes about UPF youth projects in Jordan and Lebanon, where young Muslims and Christians who gathered for service projects and football contests went beyond long-standing barriers to discover the goodness in each other’s lifestyle and beliefs. He spoke of the Middle East Peace Initiative, which arranged numerous interfaith pilgrimages to Israel and Palestine over the last nine years. On these occasions Jews, Christians, and Muslims have honored the founders, prophets, and saints of each others’ religions.

Following the talks, questions were put by the audience to the panel of four speakers, and discussions continued over tea and coffee. The two members of the parliament stayed throughout the event. The Scottish Parliament is a young institution, occupying a new building at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, the mountain near the center of Edinburgh. The feeling is one of freshness, openness, and innovation.

A book of condolences for Father Moon’s passing was available for signing. Participants expressed hope that his spirit will continue to guide humankind in the way of universal peace.

For more reports about International Day of Peace 2012 programs click here.

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