The Words of the Kagawa Family

Week of Spirituality at the UN Explores Visionary Leadership

Genie Kagawa
October 28, 2011
UPF International

New York, USA -- The 2011 Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, a project of the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns (CSVGC-NY) at the United Nations, under the Chairmanship of Mrs. Sharon Hamilton-Getz, took place under the banner of the importance of Visionary Leadership as a key element in solving the issues and challenges facing the United Nations and the world today. A week-long program of events, from October 20 to 28, explored the very essence of the UN's commitment to the peaceful resolution of international issues and global challenges. The events ranged from a series of focused meditations, workshops, and panel discussions to group interchanges and cultural performances.

Through the lens of "Visionary Leadership that makes a difference at the United Nations," the various CSVGC-NY Working Groups and events explored the challenges and successes in making the principles contained in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights come alive today and in the future. On October 20, during the Opening Ceremony, the "Spirit of the UN" Award Ceremony honored the following four 2011 awardees who were outstanding examples of individuals whose professional careers have been the expression of the principles upon which the United Nations was founded: H.E. Mrs. Byrganym Aitimova, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the UN; Sr. Joan Kirby, NGO Representative of the Temple of Understanding; Ms. Susana Bastarrica, UN Staff Member, Office of Human Resources Management; and Ms. Diane Williams, Chair Emeritus and Founder, CSVGC-NY.

For the first day's session, Mrs. Sharon Hamilton-Getz organized a stimulating program which attracted well-known speakers on Visionary Leadership, organized under the title of "Successful Visionary Business Leadership: Drawing on Ageless Wisdom to Meet the Needs of Today." Through new insights, we learned that a person must have a balance of intellect, heart, and will to be a visionary leader. Intellect provides a clear and comprehensive plan. However, without will, there is no purpose. And, heart provides the passion and drive to carry out the plan. If one is element is missing, the vision cannot be implemented. The visionary speakers were Mr. Shomik Chaudhuri, UN Representative of the Institute of International Social Development; Mrs. Virginia Swain, Director of the Institute for Global Leadership; and Mrs. Corinne McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Center for Visionary Leadership.

The Universal Peace Federation contributed to the Week of Spirituality as Co-Chair of the Eco-Spirituality Working Group and Co-Facilitator of the Spiritual Council for Global Concerns Working Group. For Eco-Spirituality, Mrs. Genie Kagawa, Deputy Director of the UPF Office for UN Relations, moderated the session on "Environmental Protection as a Spiritual Practice for Visionary Leadership." Speakers included Swami Parameshananda, UN Representative of Bharat Sevashram Sangha; Dr. Kurt Johnson, Co-Founder of the InterSpiritual Dialogue; Dr. James A.F. Stoner, Chair for Global Sustainability at Fordham University; Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Co-Chair of Interfaith Partnership for the Environment of UNEP; and Patrick Nickisch, International Coordinator of Shri Ramanuja Mission Trust and expert on world religions. The session pointed out the necessity of including spirituality in the discussion on global sustainability and of training religious leaders to be leaders in environmental concerns. History has taught us that religions emphasize purification of the heart in order to best become sustainers of the planet, instead of mere stewards.

The Spiritual Council for Global Concerns, chaired by Mrs. Hamilton-Getz, and co-facilitated by Mrs. Genie Kagawa and Mr. Patrick Nickisch, organized an interactive workshop where in-depth discussion took place on the distinctive qualities of visionary leadership that can augment general leadership practices as well as spirituality's contribution in the assessment of conflicts and social ills, and in proposing solutions. For a practical view, there was also discussion about the building blocks needed to encourage global consciousness which transcends nations and on the best strategies for proactively introducing spirituality to enhance best practices in peace-building, social development, poverty alleviation, and environmental protection.

The program on the "Spiritual History at the UN as a Spiritual Practice for Visionary Leadership," spearheaded by Rev. Dr. Thomas Downes, Mrs. Ellen Chesler, Senior Fellow of the Roosevelt Institute, and Elizabeth A. Young of the Feather Project, recounted several transformational events that took place at the United Nations which brought to the fore programs on spirituality and related concerns.

A rich and innovative program on education and spirituality by the Universal Ethics and Global Concerns Working Group, chaired by Rev. Juliana Lira, Rabbi Roger Ross, and Rev. Rose-Mary Engle, entitled: "Implementing Responsible Change: Active Visionary Educators, Political and Religious Leaders Explore the Ethical Impact of the UN Millennium Development Goals with Today's Youth," used music, dance, and selected panelists from UN staff, diplomats, NGO representatives, members of religious, political, educational and youth communities to review the MDGs. Break-out sessions led by the experts explored the ethical impact of MDGs, ethical challenges, and new ways of moving forward.

The Spiritual Dimensions of Science and Consciousness Working Group, chaired by Mrs. Ida Urso, President of the Aquarian Age Community, and Danilo Parmegiani, Executive Director of the Legion of Goodwill, discussed "Developing Global Citizens for a Sustainable Society: Why Is the Spiritual Dimension an Essential Component of Education for the 21st Century?" Keynote speakers included H.E. Mr. Lhatu Wangchuk, Ambassador of Bhutan to the UN; Mr. John Wulsin, Teacher at the Green Meadow Waldorf School in New York; and Mr. William Yotive, UN/CyberSchool-Bus. H.E. Lhatu Wangchuk gave a very impressive presentation on his initiative at the United Nations to introduce a resolution recommending basing the prosperity of a country on "GMH" (Gross National Happiness), rather the GNP.

The Healing, Transformation and Spirituality Working Group, chaired by Dr. Ani Kalayjian, UN representative for Trauma Outreach and Prevention, had the following distinguished speakers: Mr. Peter Occhiogrosso, co-author of three New York Times bestsellers, including The Joy of Sects; Margaret Ajemian-Ahnert, author of New York Times bestseller The Knock at the Door; and Ms. Dayla Maisey, author of The Never Ending Journey. The panel identified pressing epidemics that face us globally, examined the underlying causes, earmarked qualities of enlightened leadership, and listed remedies and recommendations focusing on the individual as well as the collective realms. Musical presentations included healing Tibetan songs, with inspirational dancing. 

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