Op 15 maart vond op de Pier in Scheveningen in het kader van UPF’s ‘Global Peace Tour 2009’ een internationale vredesconferentie plaats, alsmede een ‘Peace Gathering’, beiden met als motto: ‘One Family under God’. Onder de sprekers bevonden zich Mark Brann, secretaris generaal van UPF Europa, die sprak over “A vision for peace in the 21st century”. Ook aan het woord kwam dr. Willem van Eekelen met: “The European Union, a model for peace and prosperity”. Drs. Lucile baroness van Tuyll van Serooskerken, kinderpsycholoog en senior adoption consultant, sprak over: “Education of Character and Family Values”.
Miss Maartje Bos (Stichting Ghana Haarlem) talked about ‘Service Projects in Ghana’ and Japanese Ambassadors for Peace, visiting the Netherlands to support the Peace Tour, performed a Japanese ‘Dragonfly Dance.’
The evening ‘peace gathering’ was opened by an interreligious little group of three men, each giving an invocation according to the tradition of their faith: Prof. M.K. Gautam of the Hindu faith tradition was followed by Abdul Haselhoef, representing the Muslim faith and by rev. Jacob Korff who represented Christianity. They all asked for God’s blessing and presence during the evening’s gathering for peace. Then the AISA Sufi choir from Almere performed a stylish and melodious religious song, praising the name of Allah.
Before the main speaker appeared on the stage, three eloquent experts in their field each gave a talk relating to building a world of peace. Mrs. Hanneke van Eekelen-Wentink spoke on ‘Three Dimensional Thinking’ while Prof. Gautam reflected on UPF's core values. Dr. Beelaerts van Blokland, the evening's 'host' then again welcomed Mr. Mark Brann from England who gave the keynote speech “One Family under God: A New Vision for Peace in the 21st Century’.
Mr. Brann: ‘Almost everyone in the world would agree that we are living at time of global crisis. The attention of most governments, the G-20 and the United Nations is currently focused on the ongoing worldwide financial chaos. On top of that, there is the continuing challenge of ongoing conflict and violence flaring up all over the world. Even more fundamentally, we face a growing moral and spiritual crisis, evidenced in the rise of family and marriage breakdown, divorce, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and the growing number of young people alienated from society and prone to violent and anarchic impulses’.
‘Another serious concern for people of every nation is the issue of human care and protection of the environment. We need to respond more quickly and more consistently to the global challenges of climate change, deforestation, deteriorating air quality, water and soil contamination, to name but a few’.
‘Despite these challenges, I believe that the universal appeal of the vision to create 'One Family under God' testifies to the fact that we do live at a time when lasting change is truly possible, if we are able to understand the root causes of our problems. This is the main purpose of the Global Peace Tour and the Global Peace Festivals, which are promoting a platform of interfaith cooperation, strengthening the family, and a culture of service for the sake of renewing our communities and nations. We are looking for nothing less than a moral and spiritual awakening rooted in the universal vision of 'One Family under God.'
He talked of ‘the Dream of God,’ the importance of an interfaith effort for peace, and the need for a “culture of service.” After giving examples of some of UPF's activities around the world, he finished, “Together, let us dare to dream the greatest dream of all! Let us own the dream to create 'One Family under God.'”
After the speeches, Dutch singing legend Milly Scott sang a special Peace Anthem and the sublime “From a Distance” (first made famous by Bette Midler). She then galvanized everyone with “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord,” so that everyone was on their feet and dancing by the time she started singing “When the Saints go Marching In.”
In conclusion, Dr. Beelaerts presented miss Maartje Bos with an Ambassador for Peace certificate, waxing lyrical in fulsome praise of her presentation and work, and continuing with a bardic, even theatrical appreciation of everyone's contribution to the day
It was an extraordinary occasion, which drew together people of a multitude of social, cultural, national, racial, and religious backgrounds, including those of differing convictions within the same religious tradition, for example, traditional Muslims, Sufis and Ahmadis, all united in the determination to do what they could to fulfill the “greatest dream of all, One Family under God.”
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