On the occasion of the UN International Day of Peace, which is celebrated annually on 21st September, UPF Munich invited to an interreligious peace meeting. This year’s motto of the UN was “Climate Action for Peace“.
We added the subtitle “Active for a Climate of Peace” and expanded the topic, so that not only climatic phenomena for peace were addressed. Twenty people from different religious communities accepted the invitation.
After the introductory words of the moderator, Robert Bentele of UPF Munich, the background of this memorial day was briefly presented and the speech of UN secretary general Antonio Guterres was read aloud. It seemed to all participants that environmental degradation and climate change could lead to serious global crises and conflicts, such as: fights for water or other important resources.
Dr. Alfons Wellenhofer, UPF, said that everyone can be a building block of peace in the family, in the environment, with friends, in society, at the workplace everywhere one can contribute to peace and thus contribute to a climate of peace. Many micro-climates of peace cause a corresponding large-scale weather situation.
Gottfried Hutter, Roman Catholic theologian and a great connoisseur of the situation in the Middle East, showed ways in which a lasting and above all honorable peace could be achieved in the region there.
Billie Wegman, a clergyman at the Church of Scientology in Munich, also pointed out how conflicts triggered by disturbances or interests of third parties can be resolved through communication.
Annette Bentele read passages from the autobiography of UPF founder, Rev. Moon, in which he made it clear that religions should never be there for themselves, but should always work for the benefit of the people and for peace.
Levi Wegmann and Nenad Butic on their guitars proved that music can also be a powerful tool for creating peace, one in the more modern style, the other in the classical style.
A peace prayer was also given much importance in the meeting. After the respective presentations and the final lovingly prepared snack, coffee and cake, there was still a very lively and fruitful exchange.
The first part of the UPF event in Bonn to commemorate the International Day of Peace 2019, dealt with the significance and influence of media reports and the development of conflicts and wars; the second part considered this year’s UN motto: Climate Action for Peace.
Rémy Mallet, a young blogger and journalist from the Ivory Coast who has a Master‘s degree in „International Media Studies“ from the Deutsche Welle Akademie (media training academy, in cooperation with the Universities of Bonn and Bonn-Rhein-Sieg), gave a presentation entitled „Peace or War Journalism?“.
He listed points representing peace journalism: peace-truth-humane-solution oriented, and contrasted them with characteristics of war journalism: violence-propaganda-elite-victory orientated.
A short video clearly illustrating these points was shown. Mr. Mallet then presented the results of an analysis he had made of twitter reports written by various international sources about the Boko Haram organisation, regularly labeled as „an Islamic terrorist group“ ( Wikipedia). Almost 60 % of the tweets which he analyzed fell into the category of „war journalism“, in that their focus was on violence and its consequences, did not mention the background and development of conflict, and described winner-loser scenarios rather than considering the possibility of peaceful „win-win“-strategies for all concerned. Only 6% of the tweets could be seen as reports in the spirit of peace journalism. The interest of the audience had clearly been stimulated by this topic which provoked numerous questions and comments. In the ensuing guided discussion, the financial and economic aspects of media organizations were considered, as well as the enormous changes, expected to greatly increase in the future, brought about by social media.
The afternoon program continued with information about the origins of the International Day of Peace, the 17 goals for sustainable development of the UN, and this year’s motto for the Day of Peace: climate action for peace, which is integral to development goal 13.