The Words of the Piepenburg Family
On the Way to a Peaceful Society
March 16, 2008
Over 70 Ambassadors for Peace, guests, and members of the UPF Peace Council gathered March 14-16, 2008, in the Naturfreundehaus in Berlin-Lichterfelde. This was the third gathering of the German National Peace Council, with the topic "On the way to a peaceful society."
Renowned representatives of the Abrahamic religions gathered for inspiring speeches, activity reports, and work group discussions. Prof. Dr. Elizer Glaubach and his wife Rachel attended as guests of honor. Prof. Glaubach served four terms on the Jerusalem City Council and attended the Camp David Talks as a specialist on the situation of Jerusalem. Other noted speakers were Imam Abdullah Haselhoef, former president of the Muslim Council of the Netherlands; Dr. Hedwig Raskob, psychologist and peace researcher; and Amir Mohammad Herzog, president of the Islamic Society of German-Speaking Muslims e.V.
Various broad topics were handled in the conference, such as the renewal of the United Nations, further developments in inter-religious dialogue, peace through the availability of renewable energy, the meaning of marriage and family for peace, and the practical implementation of peace projects.
Karl Meier, president of the German chapter of the UPF, challenged the participants to establish "a culture of awareness and taking responsibility." He said, "Many things happening in the world today are completely perverse. One is afraid to look into detail, lest one not be able to sleep peacefully afterwards. However, something must be done, and something is being done."
Amir Mohammed Herzog greeted all the participants and most especially the guest speakers from other countries, as a representative of the Ambassadors for Peace from the host city of Berlin. "A prerequisite of inter-religious dialogue," said Herzog, "is the complete acceptance of the other as a person and as God´s creation. We must first practice the virtues of a good listener, before being able to tell the others something."
Dr. Hedwig Raskob, who described herself as an "incorrigible do-gooder" (unverbesserlicher Weltverbesserer), gave a report about her activities and connections reaching from Berlin to Prince Hassan bin Tallal of Jordan. "During the past few weeks," she explained, "I had so many amazing encounters, that they allow me to presume a certain spiritual guidance."
Karl-Christian Hausmann, president of the Family Federation e.V., gave an overview of the goals and activities of the UPF: "The world has become smaller, but has also become a global world with global problems. Therefore, the solutions have to be global. We need principles that are not only valid for a special group. The laws of nature are equally valid for all nations and people. Shouldn´t we therefore have universally legitimate basic laws that apply to social relationships and the spiritual or moral lives of people?"
Fritz Piepenburg gave an overview of the recent international activities of the UPF, while Dr. Dieter Schmidt reported about the Global Peace Festival. Both are vice-presidents of the German UPF. Heiner Handschin, president of the Swiss UPF, gave an overview of the UPF activities with the UN in Geneva and Vienna. The doors of the UN have been open to us, he said, enabling intensive cooperation on various levels, because of our advisory status with UNESCO.
Hildegard Piepenburg captured everybody´s attention with her lecture entitled: "The Meaning of Marriage and Family." She spoke about the changing understanding of the marriage partnership during the 20th century: "We can witness an increasing number of singles living in non-marital partnerships and the resulting illegitimate children. We can also see a generalization of the understanding of marriage as encompassing homosexual partnerships. Amazingly, however, there is a widespread, unchanging desire among the youth of today for a conventional and permanent mother-father-child relationship." Piepenburg regretted the fact that the education within the family had not been appreciated or valued by the political and business worlds.
The highlight of the conference was, without a doubt, the presentation of our two guest speakers: Prof. Dr. Glaubach from Israel and Imam Abdullah Haselhoef from the Netherlands. "I am very happy to be with you, my German family," proclaimed Glaubach, as he began his presentation about the various peace projects of UPF in Israel and Palestine. "One thing that I would like to make clear from the beginning is that peace is possible in the Middle East.
The majority of the population on both sides long for peace. There are also extremists on both sides that do not want peace, but they are the minority. The majority should not allow this minority to be dominant." As he continued, Glaubach admitted that the situation was not that simple: "Israelies and Palestinians could solve the problem themselves, if they were left to do so. Other nations, indeed the whole world, appear to act in their own selfish interests in the Middle East and make it difficult to carry out agreements. Fifty-one Muslim states, including 22 Arab states, have a considerable influence on Palestinian politics, while the USA is mainly concerned about serving its own interests in Israeli politics. The UPF, with its Middle East Peace Initiative, made a significant contribution, allowing Israeli and Palestine neighbors, citizens of a country with limited resources, to once again speak to each other in friendship." Over 12,000 people from all over the world travelled to Israel and the West Bank as part of MEPI peace trips. They have met important officials, and had the opportunity to share with humble citizens.
Imam Abdullah Haselhoef emphasized in his contribution that during the past centuries it was not so much religions but ideologies such as National Socialism and Communism that were the cause of unspeakable suffering. He made an interesting comparison between recipe books and holy scriptures that offered perfect recipes. The problem lay in the competence of the cook: "Many of our religious leaders behave like amateurs and make more trouble than good with their cooking." Haselhoef himself is descendent from different cultures and religions. "My mother´s ancestors are Indian Muslims, whereas my Dutch father´s ancestors are Jews from Lithuania." He had relatives who died in the concentration camp in Auschwitz. "That was the reason why I didn´t want anything to do with Germans... until I met my wife, who is German," he reported with a wink.
Another highlight was the visit to the Bundestag, the German Parliament, on Saturday afternoon, made possible by Ambassador for Peace Abdellah Lassal, one of the leading members of the Bundnis 90, The Green Party. For many participants, it was their first visit inside the Bundestag building.
Finally, Dr. Yong Cheol Song, chairman of UPF-Europe, reported about the opening of the Peace Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea. He conveyed greetings from the international chairman of the UPF, Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, and encouraged everyone to "live for the sake of others" in their daily life, as the founding motto of the UPF suggests.
As in every previous conference, several people were honored with certificates as Ambassadors for Peace.