Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze Was Honored with Drug Free Hero Award
Drug free heroes and heroes of conscience working together for a world of love and peace
Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze, president of the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL), was honored with the “Drug Free Hero Award” by the Foundation for a Drug Free World of The Americas during its 13th Annual Drug Free Hero Awards Gala on April 22, 2021 in honor of the United Nations' International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
Dr. Bernard Fialkoff and Meghan Fialkoff, president and executive director of the Foundation for a Drug Free World of The Americas, respectively, gave a warm welcome to all participants. Each spring, they hosted the annual Drug Free Hero Awards Gala to acknowledge leaders at the local, national, and international levels, who have made great contributions to drug education, drug prevention, awareness, and overall community engagement. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was conducted online, and there were 18 awardees, including students, educators, school counselors, law enforcers, community leaders, and international NGO leaders who have been dedicated to promoting a drug free world.
Dr. Fialkoff commended Dr. Hong for his peace efforts. Dr. Hong has led FOWPAL, a non-profit, non-political, and non-governmental organization established in California, to visit 101 nations, actively promoting the philosophy of yin and yang, the wisdom of balance, as well as a culture of conscience, love, and peace through various means, such as having dialogue with heads of state and visionaries, conducting cultural exchanges, hosting the ceremonies of ringing the Bell of World Peace and Love, holding World Leader Summits of Love and Peace, and initiating and promoting various declarations for peace.
Due to a prior engagement, Dr. Hong was unable to attend the gala. In his pre-recorded acceptance speech, Dr. Hong expressed his appreciation to the organizer for its long-standing commitment to promoting anti-drug education and raising public awareness as the Foundation for a Drug Free World has distributed 62 million educational booklets, held tens of thousands of drug awareness events, and reached more than 260 million people in 123 countries. Dr. Hong urged more organizations and individuals to support this very important and meaningful cause and expressed his wish that “drug-free heroes” and “heroes of conscience” can work together to “make everyone a superhero to light up the world, to activate a global virtuous cycle with conscience and love, and to create a culture of love and peace for the next generation, as well as a happy and sustainable future of hope.”
The devastating effects of drug abuse harm the drug users’ bodies and minds, their families and society. Dr. Hong pointed out, “The key driver of this behavior is the ‘heart’ hidden inside. The function of the heart is far-reaching, and the purity of the heart is easily affected by greed, anger, obsession, arrogance, and skepticism, which we call 'the poisons of the heart.' If the five poisons are not removed, medicine will be ineffective, and it will be even more difficult to quit drugs.”
“The poisons of the heart require 'the antidote for the heart,' which is conscience," said Dr. Hong, explaining the role conscience plays in solving the problem of drug abuse: "With conscience, we can guide our love and realize 'love.' With 'love,' we can overcome all kinds of challenges. It is because of our love for family, friends, and all humanity that we work together to promote a drug free world. Only by inspiring more people's conscience can we fundamentally solve the problems of drug abuse and raise society’s moral standards. People will also realize the true meaning of love and the value of life in the process of practicing conscience."
Many awardees shared their experiences in combating the harmful drug pandemic. Rhea Mendoca, a young writer, blogger, and YouTuber, and her twin sister Renee started to get involved in the anti-drug movement when they were 10. They founded "Wings of Hope'' to spread awareness about the danger of drug abuse. Rhea said, “Even a young voice can be heard across the world. You do not have to wait to be an adult to be an angel in this world." Renee reminded everyone that "One pen and one voice can bring about a whirlwind of change in society globally. If you don't agree with something, speak up, it can create a Tsunami effect." Their organization has helped 2 million people in 100 nations.
Nancy Sanders, who is a certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor and has been actively involved in the fight against drug abuse in her community, expressed her heart-felt appreciation for the amazing educational tools provided by the Foundation for a Drug Free World and noted that the key to a drug free world is education, prevention, awareness, and communication. She lamented that, based on her experience of 20 plus years working in a public school setting, many drug addicts started using drugs when they were in elementary school; therefore, she stressed that an anti-drug education needs to take root from a young age.
Lee Kassler lost his son to an overdose. Kassler sincerely reminded everyone to break the stigma of addiction because a tragedy like this had happened to a normal child and to a normal and educated family like theirs. He and his wife established a foundation in his son’s honor and dedicated their time and efforts to raise awareness by training and distributing a useful tool to reverse the effects of an overdose.
Matthew Martinez, a science teacher who just successfully defended his dissertation and is going to get his doctoral degree, said that he encouraged his students to sign a pledge online and put a copy of that pledge on their refrigerators and in their lockers to remind them that Matthew and their loved ones care about them. “We don’t want to lose them to this poison,” said Mathew.
At this virtual gala, the “drug free heroes” and “heroes of conscience” gathered to share their heartfelt reflections on the battle against drug abuse. The notion that “it takes a village to raise a kid” and that “we are in this fight together” were expressed by some honorees, emphasizing that the collective efforts from everyone is necessary to win this war.
To encourage people to lead a better life, Meghan Fialkoff invited people to join her organization’s campaign “In Real Life” (hashtag #IRL) by filming one-minute selfies about what they like to do to stay active, healthy, interested, achieving their goals without the use of drugs and sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured on the organization’s Instagram.
At the end of the program, Judy Lee, the representative of FOWPAL, on behalf of Dr. Hong, commended the organizer for hosting this successful event, saying, “This one is so much full of love, of support that I am just so overwhelmed." She invited everyone to utilize the maxims of conscience on FOWPAL's website as well as the educational tools on the ICDAY website. Judy also encouraged all participants to continue to work together for this worthy cause by singing, “We can change the world as one.”
In response to Judy’s remarks, Dr. Fialkoff concluded by saying that his organization is definitely going to partner with FOWPAL, adding, “When we have love, when we have consciousness, we have a drug-free world!”