The Words of Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak

The World at a Turning Point: A Global Vision of Peace and Good Governance

Chung Hwan Kwak
August 12, 2003
Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace Summit of World Leaders
Chairman, IIFWP
Opening Plenary
Seoul Korea

Your Excellencies. Distinguished leaders from all fields. Ladies and Gentlemen. It is my honor and pleasure to welcome you to this Summit of World Leaders on "The World at a Turning Point: A Global Vision of Peace and Good Governance," sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace Gathered here for this Summit are many very distinguished religious leaders, political leaders, scholars, educators, representatives of the media, and leaders of non-governmental organizations.

You may ask why this Summit of World Leaders is focusing on the theme of "the world at a turning point." Why is this theme also being associated with the topic of good governance?

One could argue that the world is always at a turning point, and in some sense this is true. However, we also know that there are times in history that present unique opportunities for change and transformation. History records these remarkable moments from the past. From the rise of religions rooted often in the vision of a lone prophet or founder, to the emergence of social and revolutionary movements, an informed student of history knows that there are unique times and places and people who shape history in dramatic ways at specific times¡¦¡¦turning ordinary history, as the passage of time, into a time of transformation.

That the present moment is a "turning point" is represented in several ways. On the one hand, we can point to the broad process of globalization, wherein trade, communications, transportation, and the transnational economy are developing rapidly, and having great impact on peoples and nations the world over. We can also refer to the digital revolution, which might be as dramatic a development as the invention of a printing press was some centuries ago. Then there is the shift from the Cold War era of global ideological struggle between the communist vision or world order and the democratic capitalist vision to a new post-Cold War era.

This era is characterized by a growing series of conflict situations that have roots not only in competition over land and resources but in divergent worldviews, cultural traditions, and religious identities. As such, we find ourselves in an era that cannot be controlled simply by political, economic or military power. For ours is an age which sees political and national loyalties being challenged by the rise of cultural, religious, and moral loyalties, along with strong non-governmental affiliations. Moral and spiritual authority, to some extent, are becoming more important than, political and military authority.

Our understanding of good governance is affected by these changes, and, therefore, should be adjusted in light of these trends. And, of particular importance I believe, at least to the IIFWP, is to underscore the point that moral and spiritual authority is as important as military, political and economic authority.

The foundation of lasting peace and good governance lies in the quality of the hearts and minds of human beings. IIFWP's founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon has always taught of the need to understand peace as a continuum that develops from the individual level, to the family level, to the society, the nation and the world. At each level, there must be a development and a spiritual, moral maturity that allows us to proceed to the next level. A selfish person cannot create a good marriage or be a good parent.

Likewise if families are lacking in any public awareness, the society suffers. Moreover, if nations are centered only on themselves, there is little hope for a system of global governance that serves the interest of all people. How do we go about establishing a true and lasting peace?

Can it be imposed by a government, or through the enactment of new laws? If the United Nations General Assembly or the Security Council declares the beginning of a new culture of peace will everyone automatically follow? What kind of change will be necessary for a new culture to be established, and how would this change be carried out?

It requires the transformation of human minds, hearts and concepts. This is our challenge. This is also the challenge of establishing a new or renewed model of global governance.

At the center of the IIFWP's vision, indeed, at the center of our vision of governance, is the recognition that human beings have been created by God in accordance with certain basic principles and laws. Unless we are rightly related to God, and unless human beings come to reflect the harmony and goodness that is within God, we will not be able to achieve peace.

I make this claim not simply as a doctrine that I want others to accept on blind faith. Rather, it seems to me logical that if God, or whatever we call the ultimate Being, exists as the origin, the standard and the source of love, peace and goodness, then it makes sense that we must be rightly related to God if we are to manifest true love, peace and goodness. This applies as much in thinking of an ideal of human moral development, as it does to an ideal of global governance.

One of God's most fundamental attributes is love, or we can say, true love, to distinguish God's heart of love from the kinds of superficial and selfish love we see presented in this world. True love is characterized by virtues such as compassion, humility, mercy, righteousness, and peace. True love is fundamentally other-centered. It calls us to live for the sake of others, to always serve the well being of greater spheres of existence.

Rev. Moon has always taught us that God is the True Parent, or the invisible True Parents of humanity. That is, God's heart and hope or will for the world is like the heart of a loving, caring, unselfish parent who produces children out of a heart of love, and who then loves and cares for those children, and educates those children to live rightly and in accordance with principle. Moreover, God created us as human beings to inherit this kind of heart and character of True Parents. This has been Rev. Moon's most fundamental teaching. It can be said that this concept is the essence of God's revelation to him more than 65 years ago. Even his position, sometimes referred to as anointed one, savior, messiah, or prophet, is more properly understood as that of True Parents. Further, his conviction and teaching is that each of us is to become a True Parent ourselves.

What is a True Parent? Does a True Parent work miracles? Is it someone who never gets sick or who lives forever in this physical world? Is it someone who should receive gifts and treasures? No, a True Parent is one who embodies the ideal of living for the sake of others.

A True Parent also seeks to be a True Teacher. That is, someone who always affirms what is true, over what is popular or fashionable. Someone who will face persecution, rather than compromise basic principles. Someone who cares about the next generation and who wants to guide them on the right path to true human fulfillment.

According to God's original ideal, human beings are to benefit from and have dominion over all things with a heart of true love.

Finally, a True Parent is a True Owner. Therefore a true owner is one who always uses public goods responsibly, and who refuses to be corrupted by materials goods. A True Owner never misuses public money or mistreats the environment, and always uses resources for the common good.

I believe these three attitudes and virtues, if incorporated into our character will provide the foundation for truly good governance. In other words, ultimately, to meet the challenge of our day, and to achieve world peace, we must first undergo some form of internal transformation of consciousness and heart, and not merely an external transformation. We must change our hearts and minds, sometimes even our cherished beliefs, and, on that foundation, change the way we view the world and those around us.

Thus, if we consider some of our core topics for this Summit-----namely, United Nations renewal, peace in the Middle East, resolving the 50 year old crisis on the Korean Peninsula, or Human Development-----these principles are applicable.

How are we to develop this kind of heart, attitude and character? According to God's original ideal, we are to learn true love within the family. The family is the school of true love. Our heart grows through the experience of true love within the stages of family life from birth, to marriage, to parenting and grand parenting. The quality of our core relationships within the family forms the basis for our character and serves as the foundation for our human relationships outside the family. This is God's original ideal. Thus, when we think of true human development, we should begin with the family, for that is truly the foundation of human development.

This is the vision and purpose of the World Peace Blessing movement that Rev. Moon has led for more than 40 years. That is, the transformation of society and the world, indeed world peace itself, cannot be established if do not first establish a vision and a model of an ideal family. There is a direct link between the virtues of a good grandparent, parent, husband, wife, etc., and the ideal and practice of good governance.

One of the central areas of focus during this summit, related to good governance, will be the Intereligious Council at the United Nations, initially proposed by the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon in 1998, and with subsequent elaborations in the succeeding years. The IIFWP has been promoting this vision for nearly five years, seeking to build awareness of its importance, and to secure wide support and activism on its behalf.

In the past few months a significant "turning point" in the development of this initiative has come about through the government of the Philippines, and particularly through that nation's courageous and visionary Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Jose de Venecia. Speaker de Venecia, has secured the support of his esteemed President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and in May, they presented the idea to George Bush, Condaleeza Rice, Colin Powell and others during a State Visit. President Bush stated that this was "a great idea."

I want to add a word here about President Arroyo. President Arroyo is a daughter of former Philippine President Magapacal. She is a women of great character, substance and vision. I realize there are forces in her own country that have tried, in vain, to undermine her administration through the recent coup. She has remained steadfast, measured and committed to enforcing the rule of law. I believe President Arroyo represents many of the virtues described above and I just want to say that she has my complete support and respect, and I believe I speak for the IIFWP in this regard.

In the past few days, the Philippine government has directed their distinguished Ambassador, Lauro Baja, to submit a resolution to the 58th General Assembly for the establishment of a Special Committee to develop a proposal for the Interreligious Council as an organ of the United Nations. Speaker De Venecia has even suggested that this Interreligious Council could replace the largely defunct Trusteeship Council. In either case, the resolution, if approved, would require a charter change at the United Nations.

During the past few weeks, the IIFWP has been active worldwide convening seminars running from July to mid-September in nearly every nation around the globe. These seminars have at their center the explanation of the vision behind the council, as well as strategies for promotion of the interreligious council.

Having just returned from a world tour to attend Regional IIFWP Seminars in Albania, Russia, Uruguay, Kenya, New Zealand, and Philippines, I can say that there is widespread, enthusiastic support for this initiative. It is an idea whose time has come. This vision----and again I want to use the language of a turning point-----represents a dramatic shift in human consciousness away from the severe separation of political and diplomatic efforts for peace, on the one hand, from moral and spiritual efforts, on the other hand. These must be blended in a cooperative partnership.

While such a partnership is so needed, it can only succeed if we witness an awakening that includes changes of heart and changes of practice on the parts of both religious and political leaders. Religious leaders may respect sacred truth, but they often fall prey to sectarianism and narrow-mindedness. This must change. There is no contradiction between a respect for truth and a respect for others.

Political leaders, on the other hand, may respect power, achieved through compromise and consensus, but sometimes they lose sight of core principles and values. This must change. There is no contradiction between respect for consensus and respect for principles.

If we are serious about peace, and if we are truly conscientious and sincere, we should engage in both personal and institutional self-examination. That is, both religions and the United Nations, both nation states and NGOs should engage in serious and critical self-reflection in hopes of identifying both our weaknesses and our strengths. Together we should explore and take steps toward, innovative practices and reforms with even greater urgency, selflessness and enthusiasm than those who now daily pursue change through terrorism and destruction. Working together, we will tip the scales toward world peace, and toward the end of so much needless human suffering.

At the present time the world is uniquely poised for, and in need of strong, courageous, unselfish, and loving leadership coming from each or us and from the member states of the United Nations

The United Nations, as currently structured, cannot fully benefit from the spiritual, moral and social vision that comes from people who are linked to religious traditions. This situation weakens the United Nations as it seeks to carry out its most crucial mission. To correct this imbalance, the United Nations should develop a council of men and women who are uniquely and specially appointed to the task of representing universal, spiritual and moral principles that are related to the issues under consideration by the General Assembly.

Many of these representatives can be religious leaders, and others may be lay professionals in various fields, but who are known for their spiritual wisdom and exemplary character. Some could be nominated for a position on the Council by United Nations member states and others by their religions. The selection process should be untainted by narrow or special interests, and, if necessary, the final selection should be carried out by a lottery system of some kind. The process should stand above any nationalistic or sectarian self-interest. For we stand at a turning point in history, and, if we are serious about peace, we must move to a new level in terms of both our vision and our practices.

During this summit I hope you will consider these points. In each committee I hope you can consider the way in which this vision of global governance, and particularly the interreligious council, can contribute to your area of concern. I think it has tremendous relevance to the situation in the Middle East, but also to South Asia, Southeast Asia, and other parts of the world. It also has great relevance to human development issues. Don't you think that religious leaders and believers could and indeed should contribute to solving the HIV/AIDS pandemic, to solving illiteracy, and poverty?

I hope many of you will support this very important initiative. The time is right and the need is great. There is too much at stake to allow for delay. This is an historic moment ... a turning point.

The IIFWP has launched a major, worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the need for this interreligious council. In the course of this summit we will share with you our plan of action for reaching out to heads of state and government, to parliamentarians worldwide, to religious leaders, scholars and NGOs, raising awareness and garnering support and co-sponsors for the Philippine initiative. As we depart from this summit I hope we will go with a clear vision, and a personal plan for action grounded in a powerful sense of purpose and mission. Let us turn ordinary history into a transformed history. Let us turn conflict into peace. Let us commit our time, our talent, our resources and our lives to this noble task. Let us live lives that those who follow us … our children, grandchildren, and people 50 or 100 years from now … will look back and say, "these were truly great men and women. That was my grandpa. That was my grandma."

IIFWP, on the foundation of its vision and the investment of decades, is truly becoming a global movement for peace. If you have not already begun to recognize this point, I am sure you will. The Ambassadors for Peace worldwide are providing responsible and visionary leadership to the peoples and nations of the world.

God's eternal longing is for one worldwide family of true love, where all men and women live together in mutual respect, harmony and cooperation: one world under God. The era of interreligious conflict and disharmony must come to an end, just as the quarrels among nations must come to an end. In this respect, all religions and all nations should repent for past mistakes, and make a new determination for peace. It is precisely through the establishment of an interreligious council at the United Nations that the entire world can show its resolve in starting a new history of peace, and in ending the suffering caused by war, disease, poverty.

Let us lead the way to a new era centered on God's will for a unified cosmos of universal true love and joy.

In God's ideal, wealth, technology, and quality of life should be enjoyed by all people. There should be no discrimination based on race, religion, economic status or nationality.

We are at a turning point in history. Let us work together for peace. Let us work together to fulfill God's will for all humanity, and let us work together to establish an interreligious council at the United Nations. In this way we can help solve the world's most critical global problems, and end the suffering of millions around the world.

As we begin this Summit, let us be reminded that the success of this event depends not only on the external arrangements, but, rather, on the attitude and practices of each of us. Do not lose sight of the fact that the world needs us. The world needs each one of us at this time. The world needs us, working together, hand in hand and heart to heart, with a vision, and the commitment to carry out that vision.

Although we all have much in our lives that we have accomplished, I want to say to you today, that there's much more that lies ahead. We are going to see dramatic and profound changes in our world. I firmly believe that the IIFWP and many of you are going to be at the center of these changes. Please have hope, have confidence. God is truly alive and wants to be active in our lives, and God's hopes and aspirations are far, far greater than our own. We are at a time of harvest and a time of hope. We are at a turning point in history, and we have been called at this time to provide leadership, guidance and a path to peace. Let us take our mission with great seriousness and with enthusiasm. Time is short and the need is great. Let us work together.

Thank you for your attention. May God bless each one of you, your family and your nation.

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