The Words of Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak

Political And Spiritual Constructive Partnership

Chung Hwan Kwak
June 18, 2002
Keynote Address

This address was given at the International Symposium on the United States and the United Nations, June 18, 2002, Kellogg Conference Center, Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.

On behalf of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace it is my pleasure to address you today on our Symposium theme, "The United States and the United Nations: Governance and the Challenge of Contemporary Crises."

As we entered the 21st century, I believe we all hoped to see the dawning of an era of peace, cooperation and universal prosperity. That is, we hoped that the present and future would not repeat the patterns of the past. There were similar hopes, we all know, at the turn of the last century. Idealism prevailed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, only to witness the outbreak of WW I, the Bolshevik Revolution, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and so on.

In the middle of a century marked by conflict and suffering, the founding of the United Nations in 1945 represented the power of the human spirit which ever hopes for and seeks for peace. That the United Nations had its birth, and took up residence in the United States speaks loudly of the idealism that characterizes the American spirit. And while the UN and the US often do not see eye to eye on a number of issues, on matters of vision and general principle there is much common ground.

This symposium series is intended not simply as a neutral academic exercise. It has a normative interest in fostering better understanding, and on that foundation, enhancing the prospects for improved appreciation and cooperation between the United Nations and the United States. Moreover, the purpose is not to promote either the US or the UN as ends in themselves, but rather to underscore the ultimate goal of world peace, universal human well being, and the harmony of all humanity as one family. In addition, we want to emphasize the importance of constructive and respectful engagement as a means to the goal of creating a 21st century that truly is qualitatively different from the past.

If we are to create a 21st century that represents a 180 degree turning point toward peace, then we need to review and rethink current models and practices of governance. This applies both to the United States and the United Nations.

At IIFWPs Assembly in the year 2000, the Founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, speaking at the United Nations, articulated a vision of governance which had political leadership and spiritual leadership engaged in constructive partnership in the effort to assess and solve critical problems. Meeting the challenges of our day requires the participation of not only experienced and trained political leaders, but also leaders representing the religions, as well as academia, the media, corporations, and civil society. Our models and structures of governance should be re-evaluated in light of the need to include other significant stakeholders and problem-solvers.

Dr. Moon straightforwardly advanced the proposal that the United Nations establish a council of religious and spiritual leaders within the structure of the United Nations. In this way, those who represent governments and who have governmental experience in assessing and resolving problems, can sit with non-governmental representatives of the religions. Religious and spiritual leaders can often look more deeply at the roots of our problems and can guide their followers to uphold high spiritual and moral principles.

While this kind of innovation can improve the effectiveness of governance, there is still something more fundamental, which has to do with the moral foundations of governance. The moral foundations of governance are rooted in human character. While we may attempt to create laws, structures and procedures that function even though we may be corrupt and machiavellian, leadership must be rooted in good character. And the highest virtue in leadership is unselfishness. An unselfish person is one who lives for the sake of others. True innovation in governance requires personal transformation, from selfishness to unselfishness. Perhaps the greatest contribution that religion can make, when understood and practiced rightly, is in motivating believers to be unselfish, to live for the sake of others.

A new model of governance requires leaders who have a global consciousness, a consciousness which is well-informed, respectful and appreciative of others. Education is important here. Leaders must not only study international law, economics and political science, but also the worlds religions, the worlds civilizations and their histories, and the moral worldviews of peoples around the globe.

In this respect, I believe some Americans tend to be inadequately educated. Owing to the global significance of America, to its melting pot history, and the dominance of English language worldwide, some Americans can be naive and at times ignorant of world affairs.

But, at the same time, global awareness, which may come natural, if not necessarily, to those of nationalities which are not as blessed as the United States has been, is not all that is needed. We must all look for the values, virtues and practices that bring out the best in human beings. In this respect, America is not successful and powerful simply by accident. There are some aspects of the American way which are worthy of study, if not imitation by other nations. We should look to learn from one another.

At this symposium, we will address a variety of critical issues such as terrorism, development, HIVAIDS, the family, the international criminal court, etc. I truly hope we can engage these topics intensely and constructively, with a vision for a better future.

Thank you for attending this Symposium. I want to thank the co-sponsors, the Washington Times Foundation, the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, and the University of Bridgeport. God bless each of you. I hope the experience of each participant at this conference will be most rewarding and that, together, we can continue to take significant steps forward to bring about a world of peace for all humanity.

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