Europe: International Leadership Conference

Europe: International Leadership Conference

MAY 31, 2018  

Toward Interdependence and Mutual Prosperity: The Role of Religious Leaders and Parliamentarians

WFWP Europe lead Session IV of the International Leadership Conference held at the Parkhotel Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria, from April 28 to 29, 2018. The theme of the conference was "Beyond Coexistence: Dealing with the Challenges of Interdependence."

Session IV: Values, Education, and Healthy Families - Fostering an Environment for Prosperity, Citizenship and Inter-religious Harmony 

Building a peaceful world of co-prosperity and shared values has long been the goal of religion, politics and educational institutions. In a stable, loving family, individuals may naturally develop capacities for love, respect, communication, cooperation, service, conflict resolution, forgiveness and other social skills that are relevant to life in broader society. How can this universal principle be applied and extended to encourage harmonious social relations and partnerships for peace in our communities and in the family of nations?

The moderator, Ms. Carolyn Handschin, Director of WFWP International's (WFWPI) UN Offices worldwide, welcomed a full room, describing the session's theme as being the critical component in all discussions on peace. Professor Yeon Ah  Moon, WFWPI President, spoke of creating a culture of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values, as espoused by the founders of WFWPI. She stated that to make our peace culture sustainable at a time when the selfishness of nations pushes harmony away, we must look to family as the basic unit of all human organizations. Prof. Moon declared that while the participation of women is needed everywhere, the highest priority is educating our society with a righteous value system and love as our primary motivation.

Hon. Dr. Vasilika Hysi, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Albania, focused her statement on the responsibility of parliamentarians in strengthening inter-religious harmony. Albania has a tradition of religious coexistence. In these times of radicalization, preserving it requires continuous effort. Dr. Hysi defined six areas where member of parliament must be vigilant.

These include, defending non- discrimination laws, promote inter religious /cultural understanding and cooperation, adopt measure that reduce inequalities and poor education, encourage self regulation to prevent hate language in media, lawmakers and faith leaders need to work together to prevent extremism and promote good models.

Hon. Nina Nováková, Member of Parliament (2013-2017) of the Czech Republic, is currently working with civil society in search of solutions to current threats. She emphasized three worlds: "pragmatism," with its uncritical belief in technology; "hedonism," as a denial of time-honored values and instant gratification; and "bureaucracy," a dehumanized system of regulation. She went on to say that if society is an ecosystem, family is the basic structure and is a place to learn virtue. "Our society lacks fidelity," says Hon. Nováková, "which cultivates empathy.

Rev. Ivo Sasek, President of Organische Christus Generation (OCG) in Switzerland, is a pastor, writer and founder of a media network. He values family and the role of women. It was women who remained with Jesus to the end, he said. Speaking in metaphor and parable, he referred to humanity's need to live together in harmony referring to the life cycle of ants and their need for community for survival. He affirms that when people change from self-absorption to concern for others, quality of life and breadth of accomplishment changes dramatically.

Ms. Tahirih Danesh, Senior Programme Consultant of the Ward and Brown Foundation in the United Kingdom, is also a human rights researcher, activist, and member of the Bahai faith. This day is the celebration of the founding of her religion. Having suffered torture as a child and smuggled to freedom, she turned to human rights. While education is critical to human rights, says Ms. Danesh, legislation is equally so. "We need to form families that last."

The program concluded with a long sharing portion between participants to share and exchange their views on the presentations.