Ambassadors for Peace in Richmond, Virginia
Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
Ambassador For Peace (AFP) Meeting, Richmond, VA
April 25th, 2009
“A New Path to Peace: From Separation to ‘Unity under God’”
By Rev. F. George Russell
After all traditional avenues have been exhausted, the time has finally arrived for a revolutionary, yet tempered approach; a new path to peace, which can break the bonds of callous selfishness, narrow perspectives, and parochialism among the world’s cultures. The Universal Peace Federation, which stands on the global stage as an international peace movement with the heart of being the Parent United Nations (U.N.), is orchestrating a global vision for lasting world peace as: “One Family under God.”
This great call to unity and oneness under God, however, must not be mistaken as a compromise of the doctrines of the great world’s religions, or, an amalgam of the world’s cultures into one vast multicultural mush. Nor is it a steady-state acceptance of life on earth as it is, being embrace in a pretense of “why can’t we just get along?” It is certainly not peace by any means; not by power and pragmatism, but by purpose and principle rooted in the logic of love.
UPF, under the guidance of its founders, Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, is boldly going where no one has ever gone before. It has harnessed the universal power of God and His original ideal and is now channeling it into a warring and worn-out world in order to regenerate humankind. As a result, there is refreshing hope around the world that a new era in peace-making has arrived.
In Richmond, Virginia, we felt, and later experienced the reality of that hope and vision on April 25th. The main Richmond Public Library, Downtown Richmond, served as the well-venue for our Ambassador For Peace meeting. There was much exciting in the air, especially among those who were to be appointed and commissioned as new Ambassadors for Peace. The event commenced with a call to prayer by Rev. Reva Rhodes (AFP since 2005) of the Cedar St. Baptist Church, in Richmond. She brought everyone together and encouraged all to hold hands while standing in a circle of fellowship.
Inspired by the prayer and blessing, Venerable Cang Kim, Abbot of the Buddhist Monastery in Richmond, and a prominent speaker at our local events, highlighted three of the five tenets of AFP. He openly praised the idea of being ‘One Family under God’, ‘the family as the school of love’, and the one that he feels he has embodied: ‘live for the sake of others’. With the heart and mind of a Bodhi master, he touched on nuggets of the great wisdom of the Buddha (Siddhartha). “Nirvana,” he said, “is the state of lasting peace – the end of suffering. We tell children: ‘fighting is no good,’ for adults too, ‘fighting is no good’, we must live everlasting peace.” He further laid out some of the elements of the Eightfold Path; that of Right Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness and Concentration, which serve to guide the lives of all Buddhists.
After Venerable Kim, the doors opened for our keynote speaker, Ms. Rana Ahmed who spoke under the theme: “From Extremism to Moderation”. She had recently migrated to the U.S. from her homeland, Iraq, and had a heart-moving testimony of her life and experiences there.
Expressing great love for her country and people, she shared about the warring factions and great tension which existed throughout the divided neighborhoods of Baghdad where she lived. This, we later understood, became the umbrella of darkness under which many innocent Iraqi lost their lives. ‘The neighborhoods became extremely violent through the forced annexation by many militant groups loyal to opposing religious orders, after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Daily life was extremely risky, and everyone’s movement was under scrutiny.’ She explained.
Her courage, and that of many others, moved them to help bring positive reforms throughout the communities across Baghdad and to her country as a whole. She said: “I was ready to sacrifice my life for the sake of the new generation; (for them) to have a better life and to live in a peaceful and safe environment.” With this heart, she was able to assist in a program purposed to rehabilitate many detainees to appreciate “a better understanding of Islam and a different way to look at life….” She explained. (An edited version of her speech is available on request. Email: email@example.com)
Today, Ms. Ahmed is actively assisting many Arabic immigrants in her community to settle in the U.S. Her bilingual and bi-cultural expertise is a great asset that gives hope to many who often see themselves, on arrival here, as lonely strangers in a strange land, acerbated at times, by some who may have an adverse indifference to persons Arabic. Later, on reflection, she expressed that her feeling at the program was one of ‘being among her family’. “Being appointed as an AFP”, she said, “is something that I am most grateful for.”
Along with Ms. Ahmed, we had three more newly appointed AFPs: Ms. Mi Cho, Ms. Lay Htoo and Ms. Mya Kyi. All four have experienced and lived under life-threatening circumstances in their homelands of Thailand, Burma and Iraq. We welcome them to the great cloud of noble AFPs which is spread throughout the world, all dedicated to the great cause of advancing true and lasting world peace.
In our AFP powerpoint presentation, I focused on the supreme principle: “God is Creator and Parent of humankind.” The ubiquitous parent-child (offspring) model existing throughout all creation and epitomized in the human parent-child bond was cited as a substantial reality-link to appreciating the truth of this first principle. Also brought to light was the revelation of Abraham being called “a friend of God.” (2 Chr.20:7; Isa.41:8). This is a point well received in the Abrahamic religions. The question was then raised: “God, being omniscient, omnipotent and self-existing; why does He need a friend?” The response was (long story short): “He desires relationship with human beings.” The conclusion became evident that the parent-child relationship was the one most intimate and fulfilling, not only to some, through a particular belief system, but to all, through the over-arching divine purpose. It prevails over all humankind, without exception.
A central aspect of our program, enjoyed by all, is the ‘Reconciliation-Blessing of Peace Toast’. This brings everyone together in a spirit of true love to forgive each other of the mistakes of the past; to dissolve accumulated resentments; to open each person’s heart to others, transcending: race, religion, nationality and culture; and to participate in God’s Blessing for each person, couple and their family. The result of the overall ceremony transports us to a higher level of being reconciled as “One Family under God”. It’s always a great exhilarating feeling to see the joyful expression on each person’s face after participating in this ceremony and, to embrace the hope that is being realized through it.
AFP in Richmond is strongly motivated to keep moving forward, expanding as we go. There is much to be done, and we have only just begun.
*Please see pictures of event on webpage at: