My warmest greetings to everyone this morning. I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to Professor Holderegger for his support in preparing this event today and his vision for the Fribourg Peace Forum in the longer term. We all learned so much from the presentation of Professor Meyer-Bisch on the importance of Cultural Rights in tackling some of our severest human rights violations. Thank you also to our other prominent speakers, Mr. Ricardo Lumengo, Mr. Gary Domingo and others.
I wanted to take a step back and express a few thoughts about the attainment of peace- individually and globally.
*I’ve chosen the title, « New Hope for World Peace » because it describes a vision and a framework for the newly inaugurated Fribourg Peace Forum. Within this framework, important studies like those of Professor Meyer Bisch can hopefully gain momentum.
In the year 2000, at the turn of the millennium, there was an incredible sense of potential for change. We spoke of Culture of Peace and support came from so many governments, organizations, institutions, and individuals. Centering on UNESCO, we began preparing for shared prosperity and we could agree on some fundamental or core values that allowed us to combine our strengths. World peace seemed closer than ever.
*This year 2010 is another turning point, the outset of a new decade. History will not deny us our work towards a culture of peace- or the changes brought about through the resources invested into that pursuit. As with the Millennium Development Goals, the promises in the year 2000 need to be regularly reviewed and re-stimulated. Those making the most effort, fulfilling their pledges, should be recognized and seen as models; those not successful should be constructively guided to improve. The greatest deterrent to fulfillment would be to accuse one another, and use another’s failures to justify abandoning our responsibilities.
In this month of January, 2010, there are several very significant global events planned. The 10th annual World Social Forum will be held in Porto Allegro, Brazil. Their theme is related to change and solving the global crises. .This global forum was born to provide opportunity for greater participation and solidarity among civil society’s creative developmental initiatives. The World Social Forum was conceived as an alternative to the very exclusive globalization model of the Davos World Economic Forum, which is celebrating its 40 years anniversary at the end of this month. They too have chosen a similar title: "Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild".
Both events present models for change, yet neither is complete. That which prevents the realization of enduring peace is not just economy or structural-based, nor is it resolved by ensuring everyone a voice. We’ve had right wing or left wing trends throughout history, but what is needed is direction. The Universal Peace Federation’s founder describes this as the “Headwing” viewpoint. Headwing brings the two wings into balance, as a bird needs both wings to fly. Our current crisis may manifest itself as environmental, food, energy, civilization or humanitarian– but its causes are much deeper. The solution goes hand in hand with ethics. But where do we get the strength and motivation to apply our ethics? I appreciate Professor Holderegger’s courageous work, especially at a time that ethics doesn’t seem to be very popular.
Today we are inaugurating the Fribourg Peace Forum, although little known and just getting started, there is a tremendous potential. Why? We are all convinced about the need for ethics and religion or spirituality as the framework we need to build on.
* We also understand that just recognizing our interdependence is not enough to create peace; we have to be able to be deeply and daily motivated by that realization. We use the term global family or human family quite easily. Any hopes for fulfillment of the principles enshrined in the UN Charter rest upon that concept. But how can we learn to relate to one another as brothers and sisters? One answer is in our own families. All relationships necessary to create world peace should be learned and practiced in our families. Three kinds of hoizonal love and peace: Love between parents and children, love between husband and wife and love between brothers and sisters. The current state of the family is a larger problem than we realize because failure at any of these consecutive levels of development will affect our capacity to become responsible and truly caring citizens.
We know these facts already, but do not always foresee their repercussions: children need a secure and unconditional love from their parents to learn to trust, to learn to share and be generous. And gaps in those developmental steps may lead to learning disabilities, insecurities in forming healthy relationships and later, inabilities in reconciling marital misunderstandings. Clearly this will very much affect our contribution to society and our sense of “global family”.
And fortunately, there is not only the “horizontal” training program in place, but there is a more fundamental “vertical” axis in place seeks to be tapped into. There are three kinds of vertical love and peace love between God and human beings, love among human beings and then love between human beings and nature. These are the elements that religion and spirituality can provide.
Which do you think is more successful at building familial bonds- the UN or religion? Religion ties us together to a common benevolent source. Tapping into that essential vertical relationship has manifested an astounding capacity to build religious communities-and to understand our relationship to nature as a caretaker. Our current challenge is to ease those barriers between religions. It seems clear that leadership coming from the religious sphere should be able to demonstrate the capacity to serve, forgive and love beyond their closest- the fundamental elements of “family”. All major religions have as a basic tenet that we are ”one family under God”.
* It may seem far away from the debates at the UN, in our parliaments, or even in our academic institutions, nevertheless our capacity to give and receive love will define the outcome of our longing for lasting peace- within our families, our communities or among nations.
I recently read study by an American social scientist who was trying to characterize the right and left wing tendencies. His conclusion, based upon their responses to social needs, their concerns and priorities, was that right wing reflected a more paternal or fatherly view and left wing, a maternal or motherly one. It is interesting to reflect upon, yet our conclusion remains the same: we need both angles, but even more importantly, we need to understand the quality of true love as the unifying and coordinating force. The nature of « true love » is divine and unchanging love that naturally dedicates for others- as parent’s love.
* Most associations are founded to fulfill a specific need; hunger, poverty, refugees, environment, etc. Ours is different. Our Fribourg Peace Forum’s future will be defined as we respond to the current needs based upon our founding principles. We may choose any one of the six areas from the three vertical kinds of love and peace: Peace between God and human beings, peace among human beings, peace between human beings and nature. Or from the three horizontal kinds of love and peace; peace between parents and children, peace between husband and wife and peace between brothers and sisters.
We will draw upon the capacities and expertise of our members to promote social justice, civic participation, the better functioning of our institutions, better understanding and cooperation with our government or among religious communities. And we hope also to help define how Switzerland can best serve the world as a nation that is generous, building upon existing principles of integrity, honesty and volunteerism. God willing and with some hard work, this vision will attract other sincere and great minds, like those here today. Peace is more than just a trend or a motto, but a mission to be committed to. I hope we can work together for world peace.
Thank you very much for your attention!