The Words of Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak

Assembly 2003, Opening Plenary: Keynote Address - Global Governance at a Turning Point: Innovative Approaches to Peace in a Changing World

Chung Hwan Kwak
August 13, 2003

Distinguished world leaders. It is my honor and pleasure to welcome you to Assembly 2003, part of the 9th World Culture and Sports Festival, and sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace Gathered here for this Assembly are representatives from around the world, including religious leaders, political leaders, young men and women, scholars, educators, representatives of the media, and leaders of non-governmental organizations.

The World Culture and Sports Festival was first announced in 1988 at the time of the Seoul Olympics. At that time, the founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, saw the need for a global gathering for peace, that included not only sports competition among athletes representing the world's nations, but a gathering which celebrated the wider, and more internal, cultural ideals and best practices of humanity. At the time of its founding, Dr. Moon described its purpose as that of establishing a "new culture of peace." Moreover, this new culture of peace is to be grounded in a new culture of heart and true love.

How do we go about establishing a new culture of heart, or true love and peace? Can it be imposed by a government, or through the enactment of new laws? Can the United Nations declare the beginning of a new culture of peace and everyone will 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.

The world situation at the present time is filled with both danger and opportunity. On the one hand, the shocking and tragic events of September 11, 2001 rudely awakened us from any illusion that the world is at peace in the post-Cold War era. It also made us very aware that we cannot understand the security of a given nation outside the framework of the international situation. Both global terrorism and nuclear proliferation are serious matters that threaten our security. Recent tensions in both the Middle East and the Korean peninsula evidence the dangers we face at this time.

But while there are profound challenges and threats, our time is also one in which we can hope for a brighter tomorrow for our children. Human history does not follow a course laid out by fate or total predestination, but, rather, human history unfolds according to the ideas and actions of human beings. When good people, who live according to wisdom and principle, act courageously and righteously, the course of history can be set on the correct path to peace and universal well-being. In this way, goodness and peace may prevail, where evil and tyranny might otherwise have ruled.

Within human history, even after decades and centuries of noble accomplishment, there can be no time of moral relaxation. Surely this principle applies at the present moment.

Historically, most civilizations have embraced worldviews that affirm a divine and guiding force in human history. This divine power does not seek to totally control the outcomes of human history, but does seek to fulfill the divine will.

At the center of the IIFWP's vision, indeed, at the center of our vision of governance, is the recognition that human beings are most fundamentally living in a cosmos that has been created by God, and that God has created this world and each of us in accordance with certain basic 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.

God's most fundamental characteristic is love, or we can say true love. True love is unselfish and thinks always of serving the well being of greater spheres of existence. In a word, true love is characterized by "living for the sake of others." This is God's nature, like loving parents who think and act always for the well being of their children. Moreover, God created human beings to inherit this kind of character. That is our responsibility. It is also what is required if we are to achieve world peace.

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 or 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.

How are we to develop a heart of true love? 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 family. We develop our hearts, as children, through the love we receive vertically from our parents. In this way, we begin to learn to love. Then, as we relate to our brothers and sisters in our family, we begin to develop a heart of horizontal love. Such horizontal love of brothers and sisters can be extended to our love for friends, neighbors, colleagues, fellow citizens, etc., but most importantly, it eventually is to be consummated in the love of our future spouse.

When we marry we experience a totally new level of heart, through conjugal love. And, when we then have our own children, our hearts are moved to a new and deeper level of love known as parental love. These four realms of heart are the basis for our character and serve as the foundation for all our human relationships. 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.

Due to our common ancestors' Fall from God's ideal, this family system broke down. All four realms of love are therefore in need of restoration. This is the purpose of the World Peace Blessing movement that Rev. Moon has led for more than 40 years. He has always asked young people to think of marriage as an act for the sake of peace. For this reason, he has guided young people to consider a marriage with a person who represents a race, religion, or nationality that differs from their own.

For example, due to the history of Japanese colonization of Korea, many Koreans have a very bitter feeling toward the Japanese people. Rev. Moon, however, has encouraged young Japanese and young Korean men and women to consider an international marriage. This proposal and practice originally met with great resistance, not so much from young people as from their parents and older relatives. Over time, however, most began to see the wisdom of such an act of true love.

Rev. Moon has also guided religious leaders to place more emphasis on the Blessing and on restoring the family. He has always urged religious leaders to teach young people about the proper use of the sexual organ, God's greatest gift to men and women, and of the need for purity and fidelity. Free sex and the misuse of the sexual organ destroy the foundation of society.

In addition, religious leaders should even encourage interreligious marriages, to promote interreligious harmony and cooperation.

For this reason, the World Peace Blessing is at the center of every World Culture and Sports Festival. At this WCSF we are giving special focus to interreligious marriages. You will see that, in the future, more and more people will acknowledge the value of this practice and the vision that underlies it.

In addition to the Blessing, WCSF 2003 is initiating the Interreligious Peace Sports Festival. More than 1000 young athletes from more than 80 nations have gathered for this purpose. They have come here not to boast about their own ability or talent, but rather to affirm the unity and harmony of all people, and to stand up for the importance of interreligious solidarity, harmony and cooperation. In the coming days, these athletes will not only be competing on the sports field, but they will be showing the world the possibility of peace.

IIFWP's Assembly 2003 is the annual meeting of the IIFWP that brings together all its core leadership worldwide, including the Regional Chairs, the Regional Secretary Generals, the Directors of Affiliated Organizations, Ambassadors for Peace worldwide, International Advisors, and a wide range of others who are involved in the work for peace. This year's theme is, "Global Governance at a Turning Point: Innovative Approaches to Peace in a Changing World." For this Assembly we have gathered approximately 250 participants, from more than 100 nations.

Among the topics to be considered are "Global Governance," "United Nations Renewal," "Middle East Peace," "Peace on the Korean Peninsula," "Human Development," and "Prospects for an Interreligious Council at the UN." Each of these issues merits our serious consideration, and not simply for this single conference, but in an ongoing way. Our deliberations are aimed not merely at creating a single moment of cooperation, insight and inspiration, but at charting a path that leads beyond our time here and toward ongoing effort to bring peace to this world.

Our world truly is at a turning point, and theories and practices of governance are in need of serious re-examination. Recent crises have intensified our interest in re-thinking our approaches to critical problems. This interest has been born from the crises of the present time, and, from the halls of the United Nations, to regional alliances such as the European Union, to nation states, to religions and non-governmental organizations. Humanity is embarking on a new search for solutions to our most pressing problems. This search, at least among those who are most conscientious and sincere, includes 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 not only weaknesses, but innovative practices and reforms which will allow us to move more effectively toward the goal of world peace, and the end of so much needless human suffering.

Often, today, we hear the expression to "think outside the box." This expression means that we should not be opposed to innovation, creativity, or new ideas that originate from non-conventional sources. It is precisely and often the non-conventional sources that can generate new thinking. Hence, for this Assembly we are inviting your recommendations for innovative approaches to peace.

At the present time the world is uniquely poised for, and in need of strong, courageous, unselfish, and loving leadership coming from each of us, and from the member states of the United Nations. It is for this reason that the IIFWP has proposed the establishment of an interreligious council at the United Nations. In his address at the United Nations in 2000, IIFWP's Founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon stated that, "The existing United Nations structure, composed of national representatives, may be regarded as a congress where the interests of each member state are represented. However, I submit that serious consideration should be given to forming a religious assembly, or council of religious representatives within the structure of the United Nations."

The United Nations, as currently structured, cannot fully benefit from the spiritual, moral and social vision that comes from religion. 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.

It is with this in mind that the IIFWP has been working since 1998 to share its vision and build support in every nation around the world for Rev. Moon's proposal to establish an interreligious council at the United Nations. Recently, the Republic of the Philippines has indicated that it is preparing to submit a formal resolution to the 58th General Assembly of the United Nations this September 2003, advocating the establishment of an interreligious council at the United Nations. I hope that the United States, and 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.

This summer the IIFWP is launching a major, worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the need for this interreligious council, and for new models and practices for peace. Seminars will be held through July and August in every nation around the world, devoted to the theme, "The World at a Turning Point: A Global Vision of Peace and Good Governance." The results of this Assembly will be presented in each of these seminars. 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 desire is much broader than for "one nation under God." 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, nationality, geographical location, etc.

In order to realize this ideal, an institution such as the United Nations is essential. As technology, communications, transportation, and international trade develop, unification will occur more and more around the world. We see evidence of this in the increasing tendency toward regional cooperation, for example, in the development of the European Union. This trend will continue. It is unrealistic for developed nations to think they can continue to prosper in isolation from teeming masses that suffer from disease, famine and poverty. The United Nations can be the instrument to facilitate this change. However, and this is so very important, any institution dedicated to peace and global governance, such as the United Nations, must inherit the vision, heart and love of God if it is to successfully carry out its mission. Hence, the interreligious council is imperative at this time in history.

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 Assembly, 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. If we truly embrace and practice unselfishness, openness, service and warm-heartedness, we will make the kinds of breakthroughs that the world needs at this time. We can demonstrate leadership by our actions over the next few days, and we can return to our nations, families, places of worship, renewed and filled with enthusiasm for the possibilities for peace in our world. The world needs us. The world needs each one of us.

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 is going to be at the center of many 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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