The Words of the Song Family

Global Peace Festival

Yong Cheol Song
September 5-7, 2007
Report from France

The Global Peace Festival was held in Paris on September 5-7. We had general guidelines about the meaning of the Festival and the themes to be addressed. Those requisites had to be met within the context of our national foundation, resources and manpower. The report will insist on the combination of general guidelines and local situation at each step of the campaign and during the festival.

Preparation and campaign

The official announcement of the festival was made during the ILC for allied nations (USA, UK, France) in July, in Korea. The preparation for this festival thus started with our 100 guests from France. During a working session, we agreed that the cultural component would be important as well as the inter-religious dimension. Most of the participants expressed their willingness to help us make a success.

We then received more precise guidelines: the Peace festivals taking place in 2007 would all serve as preparations for the big event to take place in the Philippines in 2008. Moreover, we understood that "One Family under God" would be the motto and that the festival ought to address the 8 UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In the early stage of our preparation, we visualized the event, and built a scenario that had to be approved by the European Headquarters. This took about 10 days. Through various brainstorming sessions with our members and with our closest Ambassadors for peace, we arrived at the following concept:

In order to celebrate the MDGs and to upgrade our foundation at the UNESCO, we would organize a dinner at the restaurant of UNESCO, hosted by one delegation. In order to celebrate the universal values common to our religions, we would organize an inter-religious colloquium, possibly at the mosque of Paris. In order to celebrate family values and "One Family under God" we would hold a venue for about 700 people in a major hotel of Paris. For each of the 3 events, two central figures were assigned, a brother and a sister.

This plan was approved by our members, by our ambassadors for peace and by President Song.

In the next stage, which took almost 4 weeks, we had to work out the feasibility of the idea. This period was so long that it almost jeopardized our period of campaigning for the event. Here, we really took many risks, but we never compromised.

It quickly appeared that a lunch or dinner at the UNESCO on September 5 or 6 would be impossible. We contemplated having a cocktail, or holding the event in a restaurant close to UNESCO headquarters. However, we tried to keep an uncompromising mindset about the original idea: a meal followed by a debate, period. And it is this determination that worked.

Miraculously, the restaurant became available for the dinner of September 5, at the moment when we were almost discouraged. 8 days were left to send the invitations. Finally, we had too many answers, and of a high quality.

Likewise, the colloquium at the Mosque quickly appeared as the nice idea that wonít work. The president of the mosque was absent from France until August 24. Finally, the answer came: impossible. We thus decided to hold the event at the restaurant of the mosque, as a kind of tea party. And just a few days before Hyun Jin Nim arrival, the good news came: the rector of the Mosque would officially welcome Hyun Jin Nim and a UPF delegation, thus giving his inaugural Blessing for the holding of the event. Here again, we had kept our original idea unchanged, and it worked.

Concerning the venue, it took quite a time to be clear. We several times considered limiting ourselves to 300 or 400 people, but we kept our determination: a minimum of 700 or nothing. Most hotels were busy but one hotel was available, the very hotel where Mother had spoken in 1992, and Father in 1995. Here again, the time of negotiations was so long that it left us with only 15 days for a campaign.

Finally, after so much work of visualizing the event and investigating its feasibility, the campaign started; little time was left we to inform the public about our project. We started with a good logo, a special website, and we printed 20,000 leaflets. But who would distribute them?

At D-10, we convinced the HARP members coming back from Chung Pyung to become the spearhead of the militant power. These young boys and girls would convey the calling of Heaven to the Parisians living in the vicinity of the main venue. Armed with leaflets and questionnaires, our young soldiers went every day for one week, together with Korean and Japanese volunteers. Moreover, Olivier Gravrand, 19, coming back from Ysi, started to e-mail many NGOs and associations and could invite Jean Galfione, the Olympic champion of Atlanta in vaulting pole to attend the UNESCO meeting.

The UNESCO meeting

Hyun Jin Nimís airplane being delayed, the first event of the festival took place without him. H.E. Mrs. Yao Yao warmly welcomed the UPF delegation at the ground floor of the UNESCO headquarters at 7 p.m. and guided us to the 7th floor of the building where the panoramic restaurant is located.

As night was falling, the Eiffel tower started to be illuminated. The cocktail was followed by a brief speech of Mrs. Yao Yao. She and two other ladies who had attended the Seoul ILC seminar in July had organized the event and were very instrumental in briefing newcomers about the UPF. Around 20 ambassadors attended the event, plus diplomats and different activists. Dinner was served and two NGOs presented their activities. Mrs. Patricia Lalonde has conducted educational programs in Afghanistan with her NGO Mewa, and this was related to the MDG N2.

Moreover, she has invited 30 female parliamentarians of Afghanistan to visit Paris in 2006 and receive training in democracy. This is connected to gender equity (MDG N3) and global partnership (MDG N8).

Her speech was followed by a brief presentation of "Athletes of the World" the NGO presided by Jean Galfione. The Olympic champion and his assistant Mr. Trouv explained how sport can help children in post conflict nations to make a new start, especially if they had been soldiers for years. Stressing the importance of virtues and self-esteem, Galfione and Trouv spoke with a PowerPoint presentation and showed their books. Since their NGO is mostly working in African nations, the African diplomats were very pleased to listen to their presentation.

Dr. Walsh then took the floor and the audience was extremely receptive to his 7 "UPF recommendations" on the MDGs. Stressing that beyond economic, social and political development (which is horizontal and external) there is a vertical and internal dimension of development (which includes virtues, character education and so forth), he proposed some action steps which were actually simple and very practical. He received a very warm round of applause, and we felt that the UNESCO experts were officially recognizing the contribution of the UPF.

Service for Peace

On the 5th evening, some members of Service for Peace organized a soccer game with the Sikh community of Bobigny.

Meeting at the mosque

Hyun Jin Nim arrived from Alaska on September 6, at noon and was scheduled to meet the rector of Paris mosque at 2 p.m.; Dr. Dalil Boubakeur, a medical doctor from Algeria, has been in this position since 1992, and is the leading authority of the 6 million Muslims in France in relation to the government.

The UPF delegation which entered the office of rector Boubakeur consisted of Hyun Jin Nim, Dr. Thomas Walsh, Antonio Betancourt, President Song, Jean-François Moulinet, Rabbi Abittan from Nice and a few other people. Dr. Boubakeur welcomed everybody very warmly and expressed his surprise to see the rabbi with us. "We have been friends from childhood," he said. So you are with them?

"I am an ambassador for peace, my dear," Rabbi Abittan said with a smile. Boubakeur expressed his genuine desire that Islam could separate from violence and be perceived as a religion of peace. He was impressed by the brief report from Dr. Walsh, especially about the MEPI.

"We should be able to give first and to give genuinely, he said. I am confident that, if Palestinians were ready to give something, their Jewish brethren would be moved and would show good will and return." Hyun Jin Nim listened very attentively and said with a parental heart, "What you are talking about is what my father calls True Love, or the way of the Heavenly Father, which includes loving oneís enemies. Moreover, we need to practice a love which transcends our creeds, and is rooted in Godís original dream at the time of the Creation, before the fall.íí He spoke with great dignity, peacefully, looking straight into the eyes of the rector.

"You are the new John Chrysostom, (Golden mouthed) replied Boubakeur. Your words are like gold for all religious leaders. Not so long ago, the Dalai Lama was sitting here. I do believe that we have to learn from Asia and Asian people. We in the Western world, and I include the Abrahamic people who are somewhat excessively emotional and passionate, have to learn from Asia, where spirituality makes people more serene, peaceful and patient.

Pictures were taken and the rector reiterated his desire to work hand in hand with the UPF.

We then held our colloquium at the restaurant of the mosque, attended by around 60 people. We had chosen the topic "Spirituality and human development." In his very articulated speech, Rabbi Abittan expounded the relationship between God and man. "Why did God create human beings? Why would an absolute being such as God create man, whereas He already had the angels? The reason is that He wanted to have a partner, and a partner who is given free will and responsibility."

Rabbi Abittan spoke about the risk that God took upon creating such a partner, and he showed that man can develop only through a covenant with Godís will where free-will goes hand in hand with loyalty and obedience.

In a desire to embrace other faiths warmly, Rabbi Abittan also quoted the Qíran several times in Arab language. He was followed by HE ambassador Pierre Lafrance, speaking on behalf of Christianity. "Let me talk briefly about the difference between belief and faith. Belief in dogmas or rituals is different from the attitude of faith. In order for man to grow spiritually, faith is the most important thing. Our faith is expressed in certain dogmatic attitudes, which tend to be exclusive and peremptory. That is where religions can become pitted against one another. But if we are motivated by a true faith and a genuine spirituality, we cannot but acknowledge the value of other traditions. I do believe that Christians like me can learn a lot from Buddhism, from Judaism, from Islam." He also quoted the Qíran in Arab several times.

Finally, Dr Mohamed Mestiri, the director of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), expressed his views: "Today, we talk about spirituality. Well, we donít really share our spirituality so often, and it is a good news that we are doing it here at this moment. Spirituality is something intimate and personal. But many people make a confusion between spirituality and institutionalized religion. Nowadays, religion is being used and manipulated to defend oneís identity, which is a deviation. In Islam, the soul is to be elevated gradually from a simple belief to a higher form of mystical encounter with the divine. We definitely have to favor and encourage this sense of elevation."

Hyun Jin Nim listened very attentively to the three speakers and often nodded his head and made some comments to himself. In his impromptu speech, he once again referred to Godís original dream expressed in the book of Genesis, and commented about the three Blessings. He spoke very briefly and all the participants were then invited to go to the Marriott Hotel where the main venue was scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

Main event at the Marriott Hotel

Many associations, who were co-sponsoring the festival, were holding exhibitions in the main hall, and at 6:30, the hall was almost filled with about 500 people. Several NGO leaders came to the podium and presented their associations briefly. This was followed by musical performances and by three speeches: Dr Juan Federer, itinerary ambassador of Timor, expounded his views on universal values common to all religions, Rabbi Abittan spoke on "the family as the school of love," and Mr. Chamsamone Voravong gave a few guidelines on the notion of co-development.

Dr Thomas Walsh then presented the goals of the UPF and a video projection explained the purpose of the Global Peace Festival. Hyun Jin Nim gave a 10 minute speech where he explained his favorite topics: Godís original dream, living for the sake of others, making successful families and creating one family under God.

Referring to the French tradition of being rather rationalist and skeptical, he said, "I believe that the French people can embrace this message and take the lead, and seeing your bright faces tonight and your warm response, I can confidently say: je suis un parisien." The evening ended with dances and songs, whereas Hyun Jin Nim invited the staff to a dinner in a restaurant.

Hoon Dok Hae

On the 7th, the Hoon Dok Hae has been organized until 6:30 am before the departure of Hyun Jin Nim and his party for the airport.

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