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IIFWPís Crown of Peace Award: An Introduction
August 11, 2004
IIFWPís Crown of Peace Award: An Introduction
Rev. Sun Myung Moon has devoted himself to the pursuit of world peace for over 50 years through programs aimed at building God-centered families, as well as through interreligious and international peace initiatives at both the grassroots level and among world leaders. This mission of opening the way to peace began in war-torn Korea in the early 1950s and continues to this day
There are some who see reality in political terms, reducing human actions and interests to motives of power and control. Most however, intuit the common sense that life and history are both far nobler and more complex. Without exception, individuals who change and uplift the world in enduring ways derive their deepest inspiration from within the realm of human spirit, where true transformation begins. Religious founders, prophets and leaders have led the way in this regard, even in the face of resistance, hatred and persecution, even from multitudes. In our times the achievements of Gandhi and King still march inexorably toward their shared dream of human liberation and equality.
The following touches upon the work from one of todayís great voices, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, as he calls people beyond the boundaries of race and culture, politics, nationality, religion and even beyond the bounds of our mortality to realize a world of peace and beauty. Notably, as he reaches the twilight of his ministry and lifelong work for peace, many are now assessing his significance and his accomplishments. Many feel called to give credit where credit is due, and therefore have initiated the "crown of peace" awards. Recently the Rev. Moon himself was honored for his lifetime achievement. What follows is an overview of the recent history and development of the "crown of peace" award.
On December 22, 2003, the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) and its Interreligious and International Peace Council (IIPC), together with local co-sponsors, sponsored the Heart to Heart Rally for Peace, in Independence Park in Jerusalem. A part of this delightful program of celebration and reconciliation was a ceremony to honor the founders of some of the great religions of the region. A symbolic gift and offering was made to each religion and its founders, offered by brothers and sisters from a different religion. To honor the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) a "robe of Prophesy" was offered a Muslim representative by Christian religious leaders. To honor Moses a Menorah was offered Jewish representatives from Muslims. Jesus, the founder of Christianity was offered a crown and a robe by Jewish leaders. The master of ceremonies joyfully sang out "welcome home Jesus. We love you. All is reconciled." Did anyone stop being Jews on that day? Not one. Did anyone convert from the faith of his or her fathers on that day? Not one. Did religious leaders do something path breaking and exemplary for the sake of peace that day? Yes, many did.
On February 4, 2004 (just months later), the principals and leaders from this great event brought their Holy Land message to Capital Hill, Washington D.C. Following an awards ceremony honoring American heroes of religious and racial reconciliation, religious leaders from the Holy Land and America reenacted the ceremony for reconciliation and harmony among the three great religions. Once again sacred symbols of each tradition were offered to one another across religious lines, and once again, Jesus was offered a crown and a robe. The purpose for this event was to complete the cycle of Jesusí life and historical world influence. From his homeland where he was persecuted and ultimately executed, to the United States, where the full fruits of Christian history flourish in a context which idealizes religious freedom, and equality for all.
The Spiritual World
These ceremonies are not only symbolic. Reverend Moon (in keeping with the vast majority of world religions) understands the spiritual world to be real, and personalities of history to continue life after physical demise. Thus Jesus himself could actually rejoice to be welcomed by his people in his own land, and again to feel gratitude and pride to be recognized so regally in the great land of America, not only by his own followers (Christians), but also by believers from all traditions. These important public acts provide a genuine foundation for the spiritual and practical transformation of history toward peace. These are serious. They are not a show or a game.
March 23, 2004
On March 23rd, just over a month later, an event was held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building to honor champions of peace from every state in the United States. Many Senators and Congressmen came to honor and recognize their constituents, and graced these peopleís special moment by giving the Crown of Peace Award and posing for pictures. People were happy, happy for the chance to stand boldly for peace, and happy to be a part of the ever improving relationships among visionary religious leaders. With the religious leaders publicly putting aside ancient tensions, (especially leaders from the war ridden Middle East), and civic and secular leaders holding moving ceremonies for reconciliation between European and Native Americans, and between Black and White Americans, both religious and political leaders were proud for the opportunity to honor the Reverend and Mrs. Moon for their role in this great movement for peace, and their 40 years of sacrifice and devotion on American soil. The Moonís this time were given actual crowns and robes for their status as "King and Queen of Peace." Father Moon wept as he offered his thoughts in his acceptance speech, recalling, teaching, and speaking openly.
An unsympathetic press often writes derisively taking the most sensational remarks from that speech out of context. "Reverend Moon claims to be the Messiah. Reverend Moon claims that historical villains such as Hitler and Stalin have been brought to repentance through his teachings." Such claims require the reader to reflect, not mock. 1. Could these two statements be true? Of course they could. Are they consistent with Reverend Moonís lifelong teachings and exemplary way of life? Yes they are. 2. Even if true, does including such claims in public speeches make Reverend Moonís life and mission any easier? Would it not be simpler to offer a brief, self-effacing speech, finely honed for political effectiveness? Of course it would. So why would a man of towering achievements, and a long life of sacrifice and spiritual devotion, at the age of 85, squander such an opportunity at a time of recognition with such radical claims? The reader must consider why the accomplished leader of a complex international movement would choose to include these claims in his speech? The facile suggestion that this is simple delusion or megalomania is unreasonable, and ill-willed reporters should not impose upon their readers with such unimaginative recommendations. 3. Finally how does one set out to evaluate the verity of such claims? Fortunately, or unfortunately one must go to God or prayer to seek a confirmation or rejection of the claims. Reason can bring one a far way in oneís search. For example: "Let us look at Reverend Moonís historical record of lifeís works and achievements to see if these are consistent with a "Messianic" mission." From this one can lean (however strongly) in one direction or another. Beyond that however increasing certitude can be sought only by spiritual means, each person quietly within him or herself.
Seoul, Korea, August 20, 2004
On August 20, 2004 as part of the forthcoming IIFWP Convocation on the theme "Ambassadors for Peace in the 21st Century: Establishing a World Culture of Heart and Providing Leadership for a World in Need," there will be a similar ceremony honoring and recognizing the life and work of Reverend and Mrs. Moon following the same model as the March 23, Washington D.C. event. While the convocation stands in its own right as an important, international program of world leaders, there are several reasons for the ceremony honoring Reverend Moon in the "crown series" begun in Jerusalem, and in the fashion carried out for Reverend and Mrs. Moon in Washington D.C., March 23rd:
In all cases, Reverend Moon is drawing international attention, and bringing the worldís greatest leaders devoted to peace to these areas on which the future of a peaceful and stable world lie. He is doing so with an agenda eminently clear and practical, which includes a full and open acknowledgement of the spiritual vicissitudes at play. This is the natural mission of religious leaders, a great many of whom have aligned themselves to these urgent and time-sensitive pursuits that Reverend Moon carries out in plain sight, and with clear explanation and expression.
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