The Words of Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak

Assembly 2001 - Keynote Address

Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak
Assembly 2001
October 21, 2001 -- New York, NY

Most honorable and distinguished world leaders. Ambassadors for Peace. Participants from more than 100 nations. Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a distinct honor and privilege to address you at the beginning of Assembly 2001, sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, along with the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations. You have taken time from your work and important schedules. I believe, however, that there is no more important or urgent task than the one set before us today. Our world is in crisis, and we have gathered from every corner of the earth, with a common concern and a shared sense of responsibility to search for solutions to the critical problems we face today.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, our world has been thrust into a crisis of significant proportion. People are dying, hearts are breaking, enmity is evident. Minds are at work, lives are on the line, and resources are being allocated in pursuit of a solution. But as I believe we all know, the roots of this crisis are deep, and the solutions are not simply of a political or military nature.

We often judge the most critical problems of a nation, or our world, to be of a political or economic nature. However, while these may be among the most obvious problems they are not necessarily the most primary.

The IIFWP upholds the view that the family is the most fundamental social institution. That is, the well-being of the nation, has its root in the well-being of a nationís families. When the families of a nation are stable and strong, the nation is stable and strong.

As I am sure you know, family breakdown leads to a wide range of social problems. That is, there is statistical evidence showing a strong link between family breakdown and an increase in violence, crime, homelessness, unemployment, poverty, and mental and physical health problems. Family breakdown also leads to a decrease in a nationís productivity. While we may treat social problems without addressing the family factor, our efforts will never result in the success for which we hope.

Although some nations may have great material resources, and great military or economic power, true power and authority is of a moral and spiritual nature. Ordinarily, when we refer to the power of a nation, we point to its military and economic power. However, true power and global authority will depend on moral and spiritual power. For example, if a nation can provide or exemplify a solution to the family and youth problems that afflict many nations today, it will become a moral and social leader to be respected and followed.

As you know, world peace and the renewal of nations is the fundamental goal of the IIFWP, and has been the lifelong mission of the Founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon. Throughout his entire life he has devoted himself to the objective of achieving lasting peace. His strategy has been straightforward and unchanging. First, world peace begins with personal transformation of individuals who are renewed in their personal relationship with God. Second, world peace has its foundation in the family where the most basic personal and public virtues are learned. The family is the school of love and of morality. Third, peace will only emerge as people learn to live for the sake of others, overcoming selfishness and practicing the ideal of true love. Fourth, the barriers that divide people must be overcome, that is, barriers created by race, nationality, religion, language and culture. These basic principles lie at the heart of the IIFWP vision, guide its worldwide programs, and shape its approach to our current crisis.

Ultimately peace cannot be secured by force, or by any form of external policing alone. True security comes from the resolution of historical hatred and the increase of mutual care and love. The only sure path to peace requires that we work to end the misunderstandings and resentments which afflict individuals, families, tribes, and nations. In particular, religions and religious leaders must reflect if they have preached Godís love for all people universally, beyond nation, religions, and race. If not we must repent.

At the present time we have been driven by misfortune to wake up to the mission of peace through interreligious harmony. The worldís spiritual leaders, from all faiths, should lead the world in this mission of respect, harmony, and cooperation for all believers and all races. Only in this way can we dissolve hatred, and live in peace and security. Not through force alone.

As most of you know, for nearly 50 years Rev. Moon has been a leader in promoting interreligious dialogue, and he consistently teaches and guides others to adopt the same practice. The promotion of interreligious harmony and cooperation is, for him, a basic imperative for any religious leader or believer. This is his tradition. Peace among nations requires peace within and among religions.

Prior to the establishment of the IIFWP, beginning in the 1950's, Rev. Moon devoted himself to overcoming the tragic barriers that divided religious believers, and not only those of different religions, but even believers of the same religion. The first association he formed officially, in 1954, was aimed at overcoming the bitter hostilities and competition that existed between various Christian sects and denominations. When he established a graduate school in New York to train the leaders of his movement, he called leaders of all religions to teach the students. Long before interreligious dialogue had become commonplace, he pioneered a variety of programs and initiatives to break down barriers that exist between religions. He knew very well that religion lay at the heart of human identity, and that in many respects it is more fundamental than race, nationality or culture in shaping human attitudes and actions.

He also recognized that the many conflicts that exist in our world have religious dimensions. If we cannot solve interreligious conflict and establish genuine interreligious respect and cooperation, then a lasting peace will not be possible. Given the significance of interreligious dialogue and harmony, the IIFWP advocates greater interreligious cooperation.

This same ideal applies to nations, races, ethnic groups, and cultures. The history of divisions and conflicts rooted in differences of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality and culture is most tragic. This era must be put to an end. It is imperative at this time that we develop a global consciousness, an awareness of the values and the value of other cultures, nationalities, races and ethnic groups. We should know that all people, in their heart, seek peace, love and goodness.

Furthermore, as important as interreligious harmony and international cooperation are, there is still a realm of even more ultimate significance in the quest for a true and lasting peace. Namely, the realm we can refer to as the spirit world. Although largely overlooked in this scientific and often materialistic age, religious prophets and sages throughout history have taught of a world that is beyond the material world we experience with our five physical senses. Religions teach of a life after death, and emphasize that there is a connection between the quality of our life in the spirit world and the quality of life in this world. If we live selfishly and corruptly, denying the dictates of God or our conscience, we will meet an unfortunate fate in the spirit world. On the other hand, if we live an unselfish life, following the dictates of our conscience, we will live in peace in the other world.

Rev. Moon has consistently emphasized the importance of knowing about the spirit world, and its relevance to all human affairs. He teaches that a comprehensive understanding of reality, or the entire cosmos, must include the spirit world. Reflecting this emphasis on the spirit world, last year in Korea he established the Federation for Cosmic Peace and Unification, encouraging all world leaders to appreciate the reality of the after-life, and not only at the time when death comes near. No one of us knows the time of our passing to the next world. Therefore, we should always live in righteousness and humility.

The IIFWP encourages leaders in all fields, religion, politics, academics, the media, and public service through non-governmental organizations to develop and promote attitudes of living for the sake of others, breaking down the barriers that divide peoples. This includes going beyond barriers created by race, nationality and religion.

Around the world there are leaders who have embraced these ideals and who put them into practice in their daily lives, serving their nations, their professional institutions, their communities and their families. These are the IIFWPís Ambassadors for Peace, many of whom have gathered here, along with many other world leaders, at Assembly 2001 as delegates from their nations.

I hope and pray that truly all of you will be enriched and inspired by your experience at Assembly 2001.

Once again, thank you for your sincere participation in this search for solutions to our worldís crisis. Thank you for your commitment to establishing world peace. The world needs your wisdom and your dedication.

May God bless you and all the peoples of the world.

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