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Archive for March, 2009

UPF Recommendations for the G-20 Summit April 2nd 2009 – London

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 30, 2009

UPF Recommendations for the G-20 Summit April 2nd – London

When the leaders of the G-20 convened in Washington DC last November, they committed themselves to “lay the foundation for reform to help ensure that a global crisis…does not happen again.”

If there is to be lasting change, the G-20 must acknowledge that the current financial crisis did not happen by accident, and it was by no means inevitable. The root cause of the problem has as much to do with moral, indeed spiritual failure, as governmental or financial mismanagement. For this reason, improved fiscal, economic and trade policies alone are not enough. The attitudes and behaviour of people, institutions and even entire nations must change.

The social sphere that comprises business, trade, and finance is embedded in a wider culture and ethos that, during the best of times in human history, provide the moral and spiritual framework within which we, as human beings, live day to day. Thus, the G-20 must engage in deeper reflection on the moral and spiritual infrastructure that forms the foundation of life in the world. We take an enormous risk when we either ignore or de-value that reality.

Therefore, as the G-20 gathers in London, we offer the following recommendations:

Ethical Reform: In addition to consideration of critical factors such as energy, security and climate change, food security, the rule of law, and the fight against terrorism, poverty and disease, an even greater need is for ethical reform. This call for ethical reform should be accompanied by greater transparency and fairness whether in financial markets, trade or ‘tax havens’ or in standards of good governance both in developing and developed nations.

The Importance of Social Institutions: Wealth, prosperity and human security are dependent not only on the proper functioning of governments, banks and markets, but also the proper functioning of families, communities, schools, and faith-based institutions, where character is shaped and our core values are learned.

Sustainable Growth: We call on the G-20 to promote sustainable growth for developed and developing nations.

Marriage and Family: Strong, stable, loving families are profoundly relevant to the quality of economic life. The G-20 should give consideration to the relevance of family life to wider economic realities.

Character Education: Character education, not only in the family or faith-based institution, but also in our schools, will help assure a thriving moral culture that is necessary for a robust and stable economy. Hard work, thrift, honesty, responsibility, empathy are moral virtues that are essential to a good business and a good economy.

Unselfishness: At the heart of many of the world’s greatest religious and moral worldviews is an emphasis on the universal value of unselfishness, and the control of self-centeredness. While traditionally, free markets are guided by a profit incentive, that human inclination must be balanced by higher principles such as altruism and service to others. We call upon the G-20 nations to dedicate 0.7% of Gross National Income at least by 2013 (agreed upon by developed nations in 1970 by UN General Assembly Resolution and reaffirmed on several occasions since) to support overseas development assistance and the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals. We would encourage developed nations to forgive debts of the poorest nations of the world especially those accumulated by despotic regimes and that are now shackling succeeding democracies. This altruism demonstrates ‘living for the sake of others’ within the human family.

We are All Members of One Human Family: Humanity is one universal family. Despite the diversity of race, nationality, ethnicity and religion, we are all human and we all derive from a common source or origin, known by many as God, Allah, Jehovah, Brahman, the ultimate reality. We call for increased emphasis upon interfaith and intercultural dialogue between and beyond the nations of the G20 to promote understanding of our common root. Let us never forget that we are one family under God.

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G20 Put People First Demonstration – March 28th 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 28, 2009

G20 Put People First Demonstration: March 28th 2009

This was a good opportunity to highlight important issues regarding fairness, relieving poverty, injustice and climate change. Among the 35,000 people involved there were a wide ranging number of groups included in the demonstration. Where else could you share a walk with ‘Bananas for Justice’ who were emphasising fair trade issues and a paper mache dragon that was promoting the World Development Movement? The demo was preceded by a church service led by the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres in Westminster Central Hall. For much of the march from Westminster to Hyde Park I was helping to carry the Jubilee Debt Campaign banner or placards. We were following a group including one with a Mohican haircut and another with bright pink hair who took turns to power a speaker system through bicycle power and chanted or sang in a way that was well practiced and humourous.

The speakers promoted issues of fairness and justice not just within the financial system but throughout our entire human family. Those on stage or on video repeatedly illustrated the injustice of the current economic and trading system. Rather than the G20 being the goal and end of the campaign the feeling from speakers and activists was that this is only one step in a long campaign to rectify the current unfairness. The current crisis was repeatedly referred to by participants and speakers as a watershed that is provoking reflection and must not be followed by ‘business as usual’.

Photo Link: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/PeaceFederationUK/PutPeopleFirst#

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Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 17, 2009

Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue  – London, UK

On Saturday 28th February the UPF Interfaith Committee continued their series of events showcasing models of Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue. Mr Sukhbir Singh, the London representative of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, explained how the Sikh community in Birmingham supported the Hindu community during the Ram Katha Vedic Festival in the Birmingham NEC in 2001. After telling the story from the perspective of the Sikh community, Mr Singh was followed by the director of the festival, Mr Dinesh Chauhan, in sharing the perspective of the Hindu community. After a description of langar, the holy and humble sharing of food which is essential to the Sikh faith, Mr Singh described the scale of support being offered to the festival: A marquee was to be erected in the NEC car park where food for 10,000 people would be prepared daily. Both communities had encountered episodes of obstacles, which frequently threatened to jeopardise the entire festival. After some miraculous breakthroughs, the 9-day event was executed successfully. There were no emergencies, no health and safety issues. The event was highly praised by the then Birmingham Lord Mayor. The stories were so touching that many had tears in their eyes.

Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Dinesh Chauhan

Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Dinesh Chauhan

Many Sikh organisations actually could not comprehend or approve of this initiative. Many Hindus had second thoughts about working with Sikhs – however the perseverance of great leaders like Mr Chauhan, Mr Sukhbir Singh  and Mr. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh the Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, AND with the help of God, they could overcome all obstacles and bring about such a glorious result of such impact that many cannot forget this precious experience. To date, it gives them much joy and empowerment as the testimonies demonstrated. It was very pleasing to see that friendships have developed and strengthened over the years because of this experience of Inter religious Initiative Beyong Dialogue.

Miss Balhar Kaur, the daughter of Mr Singh, gave an account of her experience as an 11-year old volunteer within the kitchen, or langar. She could testify to the electric and deeply spiritual atmosphere created when Hindus and Sikhs cooperated in the preparation of food for the festival participants. In homage to her father, she announced that “anything is possible with my Dad.”

Mr Sukhbir Singh's family in the UPF Office

Mr Sukhbir Singh's family in the UPF Office

Hindus and Sikhs worked side-by-side in the preparation of food, chanting God’s name together, truly creating the spirit of one family under God.

After the presentations, discussion circles were organised in order to generate new ideas of how our respective faith communities could offer something to another faith community. Some of the ideas mentioned included: serving langar in the Middle East as part of the ongoing Middle East Peace Initiative; organising an Interfaith Festival of Forgiveness around the time of the UN International Day of Peace; empowering youth cooperation amongst faith communities; and celebrating the gift of service.

Krishna Chauhan, the son of Mr Dinesh Chauhan, took the opportunity to promote an upcoming event promoting unity between Sikhs and Hindus through the joint celebration of the festival of Holi: On Sunday 15th March the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College will host the Redbridge Nagar Holi Celebration. Everyone was invited to join in between midday and 4pm.

The next event will be a joint festival between the Abrahamic faiths celebrating the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Pesach & Easter. At 43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA, on Tuesday 14th of April at 6.00pm. For more information please contact 020 7262 0985 or http://www.uk.upf.org

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Disarmament for Development: Will we make it for the next 100 years?

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 14, 2009

Disarmament for Development:

‘Will humankind survive more than 100 years?’ was the leading question posed by Dr. Tony Kempster at Lancaster Gate on Monday night. Dr. Kempster, Vice President of the International Peace Bureau, presented an intelligent case for pacifism both in words and song.

Dr Tony Kempster talking to Ambassadors for Peace in Lancaster Gate

Dr Tony Kempster talking to Ambassadors for Peace in Lancaster Gate

He defined himself as a ‘rational’ or ‘natural’ pacifist, a position that has been opposed by other pacifists. He explained that ‘absolute’ pacifists may not ever shoot anyone to defend themselves but may drive a car that pollutes the environment. He saw a link between the pacifism that opposed wars and the policies that encouraged keeping to two children per family.

The main fears he suggested are:

1) Global Warming leading to less land, less food and a movement of people making a future war more possible.

2) The marginalisation of the majority world leading to widespread dissatisfaction with birth rates falling in the north and growing in the south.

3) Resources running out in major areas in the next 50 years

4) Growing militarism especially between rival powers. An estimated $1.34 trillion was spent on weapons in 2007. That money could have been invested in relieving poverty or fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals.

He expressed his disappointment at the wider peace movement that he did not see as successful except in those cases where there were limited and well-defined objectives such as the Campaign Against Landmines or the Campaign Against Arms Trade. He described the peace movement as too old, too left and too riven with internal conflicts.

Tony Kempster receiving an Ambassador for Peace award

Tony Kempster receiving an Ambassador for Peace award (From Left Prof Ian Hall, Dr Tony Kempster, Mr Mark Brann, Rev Dr Sumana Siri, Cllr Margaret Ali)

Dr Tony Kempster:

Vice President of the International Peace Bureau, Geneva

General Secretary of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship

Report by Robin Marsh

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Hero of Non-Violence Remembered

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 7, 2009

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