Intervention by Mr. Jacques Marion at the Global Day of Parents event on 1 June 2023

Commemorating the Global Day of Parents

“The Role of Parents in Creating a Peaceful and More Secure Society and World”

The empowerment of parents as key educators of children and youth

Respected panelists, dear participants

Thank you for inviting me to share some reflections on this important topic. I will share with you some thoughts based on life experience in the Universal Peace Federation.

It is significant that the UN is celebrating a Global Day of Parents because, as the theme suggests, the role of parents is central to building peaceful families and societies, and to building a peaceful world.

When he founded the Universal Peace Federation in 2005 in New York, our Founder Dr. Moon, who was a master calligrapher, wrote the following words in Chinese characters to celebrate the birth of this new organization: “True Love is the fundamental philosophy and principle of the Universal Peace Federation”. Indeed, the most mature expression of True Love is parental Love, namely, the love that focuses on the common good, and guides us to live for the sake of others.

Why is parental love so closely connected to peace? Because, simply speaking, parents can embrace equally all children with unconditional and sacrificial love. Besides, they take responsibility for the environment in which their family lives.

In the family, people go through a process of moral development, cultivating their hearts and capacity to love. Thus, family life becomes a “school of love”, where people’s hearts grow from the immaturity of children to the unconditional love of parents, who care for their families with a great sense of responsibility.

Indeed, parents not only love their children; they are also their first teachers. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in its Article 26-3, states that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” This principle is essential, because, more than anyone else, parents have the deepest concern for their children’s future. With love, they teach them the values that will guide them throughout their lives.

Parents also invest sincerely and creatively to make sure their children succeed in life and in turn become responsible parents and successful achievers. They want their children to become better, and reach higher, than themselves. Parental leadership is based on love, but it really is servant leadership.

Certainly, not everyone has a successful family life. There are many unhappy families, and many unworthy parents. But we can agree that the desire for loving parents and happy families is deeply rooted in the hearts of all human beings. I believe that Tolstoy, who was greatly influential as a writer and peace advocate in the last century, pointed to this when he wrote the famous opening of his great novel Anna Karenina: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." In other words, we share a common ideal, but to reach the top of the mountain, individuals have their own path and challenges to overcome.

We share in UPF the view that parental love, parental education, and parental leadership, are fundamental conditions for building peaceful families, peaceful societies, and a peaceful world.

The 20th century was a century of war. But the great peacemakers, who stood out and profoundly influenced societies, including politically, were those who acted with a parental heart. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and many others who are less well-known, were people who transcended the conflicts of race, ideology, religion, or ethnicity. They not only embraced their people with a parental heart, but they educated them, and they led them to transform an environment of conflict into a more peaceful one.

Today, we are surrounded again by intense conflict. The war in Ukraine is causing tens of thousands of deaths, which we can see on our screens every day – and there are many other conflicts that we don’t see on our screens, but we know they are there, causing immense suffering.

Therefore, shall we not consider this Global Day of Parents as a day to be dedicated to peacebuilding, to peace education, and to peace responsibility? It is a day that reminds us about the heart of parents who do not want their children to die in war. Leaders with parental hearts can never hear lightly the daily news reports that hundreds have died from a bomb, or from a terrorist attack, and they are restless in finding solutions to the world’s problems.

We have deep respect for the UPF Founders, Dr. and Mrs Moon, because even as they went through a very challenging and suffering course, they always strove to live, to educate, and to lead with a parental heart. And they always called on leaders, particularly religious leaders and political leaders, to stand on the front line with a mindset of parental leadership.

Such is the motivation behind their project of creating an Interreligious Council at the United Nations, which they proposed in a speech at the UN building in New York in 2000. That council would bring together, in the United Nations, ambassadors from the fields of religion, culture and education, so that they collaborate with political leaders representing member states at the Security Council, and together apply a vision transcending narrow religious and national interests. Wouldn’t such a system empower the UN to prevent many of the conflicts that gravely damage our world today? It would certainly empower the UN with a supplement of soul, which is so badly needed in this time of conflict and moral confusion.

We cannot solve problems in the long term with the logic of power based on pure reason. We need to learn the logic of love and cooperation, based on heart, which is the only way to create sustainable development and sustainable peace in our societies where all religions and ethnic groups intermingle today. And where do we learn this logic of love? Isn’t that meant to be in the family?

Maybe the word “love” is not much in use at the United Nations and in geopolitical discussions. Yet I thought it is appropriate to honor this principle on the Global Day of Parents. Thank you.

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