From Conflict to Peace
Next, three guest speakers who had traveled to Fuji Sanctuary from abroad were introduced on stage. Each of these three has been a speaker or prayer leader in at least one previous SOPP ceremony, and each comes from a region of the world with ongoing conflicts. One by one, they addressed participants with their own messages of peace.
Dr. Peter Jiseok Jung, Director of Border Peace School in Cheorwon, South Korea
Good morning. My name is Jiseok Jung. I’m the Director of the Border Peace School in South Korea. I feel honored to be here and to speak to you about the April 27 DMZ People’s Hand-in-Hand movement in the border villages between North and South Korea. On April 27, many Korean people and international peacemakers came to the border villages and joined hands to form a human chain that extended for long distances along the 500-kilometer borderline road. We called it the “4.27 DMZ People’s Peace Chain Movement.”
Our international peacemaking friends from ten countries, along with Masami Saionji and other Japanese peacemakers, joined with us in celebrating this peace festival. It was a great gathering, confirming our belief that ordinary people can make peace. Peace is ours. Peace is possible. Peace is a reality. Peace is living energy and cosmic power.
On Saturday, April 27 at 2:27 pm (14:27), many Koreans held hands and sang peace songs. They looked across the border at North Korea and sang the Song of Unification. They prayed and shouted their hopes that the military border between North and South will soon open, and that the day will soon come when North Koreans and South Koreans can come and go freely.
The 4.27 peace movement was a people’s cultural festival. People sang and danced ‘peace.’ Korean musicians played drums and artists performed for peace. Religious people worshiped for peace. The border villages along the military demarcation line welcomed many visitors, and were filled with the energy of peace.
The 4.27 movement was a peace movement of the people. People were freely involved, not mobilized by political organizations, and not affected by political ideology. The movement was financially independent. The citizens voluntarily joined in the movement in cities and towns throughout the country. They hired buses themselves, and paid for their lunches.
On that day, office workers and housewives were there. Young children came with their parents. Schoolteachers and students got a direct experience of peace education. Members of families divided between North and South Korea came, as well as refugees. Protestant Christians, Buddhists, and Catholics held hands together. Residents, farmers, merchants, and restaurant owners in the border towns also participated. Military units provided parking. Police helped with traffic safety. Village officials provided local guards and temporary toilets.
That day, I went up to the top of Soi Mountain. Soi Mountain is a special place of prayer for peace. We have prayed there every day for eight years, since October 2011. We pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula and peace around the world. Soi Mountain is where the vision of the 4.27 peace movement began. I marched with the flags of the world on Soi Mountain. Those 193 national flags were brought by our Japanese friends. The peace prayers and spirituality of Soi Mountain and those of Mount Fuji are now connected. On the summit of Soi Mountain, we called out, “The people love peace! War—No! Peace—Yes!” Peace on the Korean Peninsula is peace in the world.
Now, we see a vision of world peace, where people will enjoy a life without national borders and barriers, without religious discrimination, and without racism. In this envisioned world, people will be free from all kinds of discrimination: poor/not-poor, educated/uneducated, male/female, disabled/non-disabled. It will be a world of equality where people respect, understand, trust, help and cooperate with each other. I see this vision of peace.
Peace is not a political ideology, not a cold military peace. Our peace is a warm peace, loving each other. Let us hold hands with each other. The Hand-in-Hand peace movement will rise again whenever there is discrimination, violence, war, or hatred.
Let us hold hands not only between nations, but also at home, at school, at work, in our villages—wherever warm peace is needed. Next year, in 2020, I have a strong hope to hold a Hand-in-Hand movement for peace at the Israel-Palestine separation wall, and at the border of India and Pakistan. Whenever and wherever division and separation exist, we will see a miracle of peace. Thank you very much.
Dr. Shlomo Alon, Former Head of Arabic Studies in the Israeli Ministry of Education
For 50 years, I have studied and taught Arabic and Islamic studies for the Israeli Jewish people in Israel. Through the language, I became active in the dialogue for peace in the Middle East and around the world.
I served as the Vice Chair of the URI (United Religions Initiative), and as the Vice President of IARF (International Association for Religious Freedom). I served for more than 30 years as the national supervisor of Arabic and Islamic studies in Israel, and I am currently a member of the task force for peace in the Middle East, meeting every year in Amman, Jordan.
I served for 20 years on the Board of Literacy and Reading Federation in Europe, which includes 28 countries. I am the author of many textbooks and dictionaries in Arabic, and I am a member of the Executive Committee of the Israel National Academy for Arabic Languages. I have visited Egypt 40 times, with Israeli teachers and students.
I believe that knowing the language of your neighbors builds the bridges for peace between young people. I believe very much in the vision of Masami Saionji and the Goi Peace Foundation, and I am sure that the SOPP is the realization of true prayers.
I love the grassroots movement of the Japanese people, and their desire for achieving peace in a world free from nuclear dangers. Now, I am working on translating the Holy Quran into Hebrew, with an association from Lahore, Pakistan. Thank you all for coming.
Fr. Dr. James Channan, OP,Director of Lahore Peace Center, and Regional Coordinator for the United Religions Initiative, Pakistan
I feel extremely happy to participate in this 15th Symphony of Peace Prayers at Fuji Sanctuary. Over here, we are celebrating the oneness of the human family, its cultural and religious diversity, through the Symphony of Peace Prayers. I feel like I am in paradise, where people of different religions, cultures, spiritual expressions, genders, spiritualities, and nations have come here to celebrate the SOPP. It is like a spiritual United Nations. All of you are peace-loving people—you are ambassadors of peace. You want to see peace, harmony and love flowing all around the globe.
And who is that great and extraordinary personality who has made this heavenly scene and vision possible? She is Mrs. Masami Saionji. She is a beacon of light, she is an ambassador of peace, and her heart beats for all human beings on earth. She has a great vision of peace, love, harmony and respect for every human being on earth. Let us give her a round of applause to show our appreciation. I express my heartfelt gratitude to her for introducing me to the participants.
It is really wonderful to see that thousands of people from different religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, and Sikhism, are gathered here to express their heartfelt longing for peace in their hearts, in their minds, in their families, in their country, and in the entire world. How great it is to witness that representatives of all these religions have offered prayers for peace. Here, respect for all nations is expressed by raising the national flags—in a ceremony that will be taking place shortly—and by praying for peace in every country in their national languages. I cannot express in words the feeling I have when I hear ‘May Peace Prevail on Earth’ and ‘May Peace Prevail in Pakistan’ in my national language, Urdu. That is a great joy for me.
I would like to share with joy that there is a SOPP ceremony going on at the Peace Centre in Lahore, Pakistan. In that ceremony, there are over 100 peace-loving people participating—religious leaders, promoters of justice and peace, and human rights activists—from four different religions in Pakistan—Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Baha’ism. There will be a few guests from the United States as well. All of these men, women, youth members, and children are supporters of the SOPP and for 12 years we have been celebrating the SOPP in Pakistan.
For four years, we have been celebrating the Fuji Declaration and Soul of WoMen. We feel proud to be a partner organization with Byakko Shinko Kai, May Peace Prevail On Earth International and the Goi Peace Foundation. We have translated the Fuji Declaration into our national language, Urdu, and have distributed it to thousands of people all over Pakistan. Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Grand Imam of the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, is a great supporter of these organizations. He and I are both signatories of the Fuji Declaration. We fully endorse the Soul of WoMen campaign. There are thousands of Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Baha’is in Pakistan who take great pride in celebrating the SOPP and act upon the Fuji Declaration.
I believe that our God, the Supreme Being, will answer our prayers for peace. The time will come when there will be lasting peace on earth. This is because peace is the message of all religions. There is a golden rule which is found in all religions. For example, as my Lord Jesus Christ said, “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” That is the golden rule that we find in all religions. The idea of “Hand-in-Hand,” which was shared today, is also great, and I fully agree with this idea.
There is a lot of tension in the world. There is violence, terrorism, suicide bombings, hatred, and discrimination in the world. In some countries, war is still going on. I would like to say that problems should not be solved by war, but through dialogue, by coming to the table and talking about our issues and finding solutions through peaceful means. There must be a ban on the arms race and on making or using atomic bombs. We have seen the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Let us pray that such destructive weapons must never be used in the future, and the whole world must be free of nuclear weapons.
Let us make a commitment to be bridge builders. Let us build bridges of love, peace, respect, and harmony. Once again, I express my heartfelt gratitude to Mrs. Masami Saionji and Mr. Hiroo Saionji for the great vision of the SOPP, the Fuji Declaration, Soul of WoMen, and May Peace Prevail on Earth! Thank you very much!
Byakko Chairperson Masami Saionji then followed up on these messages with her own address to the participants:
I am deeply moved and so appreciative of the wonderful messages offered by these three gentlemen.
Dr. Jung spoke about a wonderful event, in which the citizens of Korea are working very hard to create peace and harmony on the Korean peninsula. I am so happy and so proud to see that. Dr. Jung has proved that this kind of peace event is possible.
The reason why I invited Dr. Alon and Fr. Channan on stage at the same time is that I wanted to connect these core supporters to help promote peace in the world. Here at Fuji Sanctuary, leaders from different religions and sects are able to get along very well, which I think is quite rare. People often mention my name and praise me for this accomplishment, but that is not right. The reason why I can be here today, in good health, is because of the great efforts made by each and every one of you. Some of you have family members who are ill and cannot be here today, but it is because of their prayers that we are able to come here today and pray for world peace. Whether it’s raining, like today, or snowing, or whether the sun is beating down, people gather here and calmly continue praying for peace. That is the essence of prayer.
Dr. Jung envisioned a ‘Hand-in-Hand’ peace movement in Korea, and now our next step will be to make this happen in Israel—‘Israel and Palestine Hand-in-Hand.’ That will be something! Dr. Alon and another of our colleagues who works as a school principal in Israel are leading the charge in making this a reality in the near future. And in Pakistan, Fr. Channan is going to initiate ‘Pakistan and India Hand-in-Hand.’
We will be providing support to these efforts. We have already received an invitation from people in Palestine and Israel. Of course, the situation is very delicate, but our colleagues are not giving up—they have hope. Through Dr. Jung’s experience in Korea, we are going to go to Israel and Palestine, and when that succeeds, we will go to Pakistan and India.
That is the vision that you have created, and we are going to send out that message to the rest of the world. When that happens, it doesn’t matter what the political leaders say, or whether people promote nuclear weapons. When each and every one of us has a strong will for peace, that is going to spread throughout the world, and people will join hand-in-hand.
In three years’ time, we will have people joining hands all around the world at a certain time, and praying ‘May peace prevail on Earth.’ When people in each country are offering this prayer, regardless of their numbers, we will see their power, energy, and consciousness work for the well-being and peace of all humanity, rising above all differences of nationality, ethnicity, faith, language, and culture.
Thank you so much to Dr. Jung, to Dr. Alon, and to Fr. Dr. Channan for your messages. I hope we can continue our efforts together.