Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze
Zhang-men-ren of Tai Ji Men
President of Federation of World Peace and Love
Honorary Vice-President and member of Advisory Board of
Association of World Citizens UN/NGO/DPI/ECOSOC
Chair, 2011 World Summit of Love and Peace on Sustainable Development
September 2, 2011
This year we have witnessed dramatic environmental changes across the globe. Mankind’s resiliency and adaptability in response to these changes have been phenomenal, and the theory of the survival of the fittest holds true. With cooperation and consolidation of efforts mankind will pave the path towards sustainable development in sync with the balanced way of nature; which is critical given the world’s state of dwindling resources and increasing risk of climate changes.
What will our future hold? The answer becomes clear when you explore Bonn, the city of sustainable development. Human beings have spent centuries trying to understand nature, and the topic of sustainable development has been widely debated in recent years. UN conferences on sustainable development have been held in every decade to review the progress we have made towards this worthy goal. Since its establishment 36 years ago, the Association of World Citizens has been honored to have dedicated significant efforts to the betterment of the Earth through concrete actions.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon remarked in Davos, Switzerland this past January, “We have to be prepared to make major changes...in our lifestyles, our economic models, our social organization, and our political life.” Even a small change could have great influence on the future of mankind. We are prompted to reflect upon the way we have lived our lives and how it has impacted the Earth. How we move from here to achieve sustainable development really is up to mankind’s collective resolve.
A world citizen must exercise his/her full potential in the face of the living crisis. The power of collective sustainability will be consolidated at the critical time when our life and the lives of future generations are at stake. This should not be the responsibilities of the United Nations or national governments. Instead, we should take it as personal endeavors to fulfill this goal. Turning organizational objectives into workable actions is the key to achieving sustainable development.
Our experiences over the decades of engaging in international activities have demonstrated that people are willing to give up disputes and differences in the short run. However, division and differences in thinking in the long run form obstacles to collective efforts. As a result, time has been wasted and breathing room shortened. It is anticipated that open-mindedness, multilateralism, productivity, cooperation and mutual understanding will be reached in the NGO annual conference. It is exciting to conduct the meeting in this city with lively arts and rich musical heritages. NGOs have gained much energy and exposure to diverse cultures by having the conferences held in different countries in past years.
Advanced technology and sophisticated facilities are the strengths of mankind in the 21st century. With the clock ticking down in human beings fight for survival and to stop the Earth from deteriorating at accelerating speed; energy conservation and resiliency will determine mankind’s collective destiny. Technological advancement also comes with negative effects; as there are both sides to every coin. Many opportunities are lost if we just focus on the good side without paying attention to the warning signs and environmental concerns. It pays to minimize, better yet to eliminate the avoidable injuries to the Earth.
Precaution is better than remedy. As such, we have to start our discussion of “Responsible World Citizens for Sustainable Action in 2011” by learning from the natural way of balanced wisdom. All things exist for a reason. Some may be necessary, some may be dispensable, some are for the growth of humanity and still others, through intricate linkages, are incomprehensible. Incomprehensible as it may be, we can still try to untangle the thread to solve long-term bewilderment. The Kyoto Protocol, for instance, aims to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emission and was proposed in 2001, yet not put into effect until 2005, which was a giant leap in history. In order for the Protocol to enter into legal effect, it was required that the Protocol be ratified by 55 Parties including 5% of 1990 emissions level. We waited for an additional 5 years to gain the required consensus during which time emissions has consistently gone up. In 2004, the International Conference for Renewable Energies in Bonn brought to attention to the insufficient and dwindling resources available for development. The topic of biodiversity is another critical issue to attract more people into the discussions at the NGO level.
Beginning in 2008 the NGO annual conferences began to be held in different continents around the world. When the annual conference was held in Paris in 2008, the theme was reaffirming human rights for all, followed by the agenda of disarmament for peace and development in Mexico 2009.
The global economy was mired in recession brought forth by financial crisis over the past two years; from emerging economies to developed countries, governments were grappling with the complications from economic and financial diseases. In the meantime, the H1N1 virus brought new threats as did SARS in 2003 and the world has embarked on fights against widespread epidemics. As a result, the conference in 2010 focused on advancing global health and achieving the MDGs, underscoring the important role that civil societies can play in fostering global health. The themes over the past 4 years ranging from human dignity and security, climate changes, human rights, and disarmament are all important aspects of global health; and the 64th NGO conference reiterating “Sustainable Societies; Responsive Citizens” is on the path of the global awakening that is necessary for future sustainability and forming effective partnerships to meet the MDGs by 2015.
Members of the Association of World Citizens (AWC), and the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL) have participated in annual NGO conferences for many years. With the help of many other volunteer workers, we do our best to generate real actions to stop the Earth from sliding into implosion through world summits held in concert with the conferences. In my presentation “Sharing Goals for Economic and Social Development：The Urgent Need for Global Solidarity” presented in the 53rd NGO annual conference in 2001, I highlighted that “The 20th century survived its turbulent years, and the 21st century is now upon us. It is necessary to unite the world without delay, a task which can only be reached by striking out along the path of global solidarity and peace.” Over the past decade, we have worked closely with representatives from the international community to achieve this vision.
Representatives of world citizens from NGOs are instrumental in building a beautiful new world in the coming millennium. I have led international organizations endeavoring for this worthy aim for decades. Anyone who knows of the Earth’s situation is worried about the long-term future of mankind. A man’s lifetime is not enough to turn around the world’s destiny. As such I am dedicated to passing on the messages of Tai Ji philosophy of yin and yang to the predestined ones and finding ways to help the Earth through consolidated efforts.
We are glad to know that some 170 UN affiliated non-governmental organizations, working predominantly in the fields of development, cooperation, environment, peace and conflict resolution, are based in Bonn. As responsible citizens in 2011, we have to take sustainable actions in line with the balanced way of nature. No plan can reach the goal without taking into account the balanced way of nature. Humans are not machines. If we take a deep look at the programs and use our hearts to feel, we will see how they interact with Nature. We will soon identify many minor modifications needed to make the programs more robust. Oftentimes, people do things which cancel each other out. For example, while environmental organizations are advocating conservation, there are people exploiting natural resources for their own economic benefits. The self-repair mechanism of Mother Earth thus becomes powerless.
The loss and bewilderment of people’s hearts becomes obvious when insatiable demand for resources have caused wars, chaos, economic recessions, social unrest, poor health and countless diseases. All living things are inter-related. A small crack will break the entire chain and leave corrective actions useless. As such, the way to be in balance with Nature is to live simply with a pure heart and few desires. The Earth will be saved if we reduce our desires to the minimum, and it is also the way to save ourselves. Saving resources for the future instead of greedy consumption is the best infrastructure we can develop for our offspring. This is what the old Chinese saying “There is no need to worry about running out firewood if we have already saved a mountain’s provisions” means. Instead to taking whatever we desire from nature, we will buy more space and time for the earth to breathe and restore its original state if people reach consensus to live a simple life with fewer demands and wants. Mother Earth will then replenish herself and provide opportunities for mankind’s survival; this is the key to maintain balance between limited resources and sustainable development.
In order to balance and achieve these multifaceted goals, every responsible citizen should live a simple life and abide by the following five action plans to facilitate the implementation of the four themes of the roundtable discussion during the 64th NGO Annual Conference.
- First is Wisdom. We have to encourage decision makers to exercise wisdom to inspire world citizens and generate a willingness to take responsibility to solve our problems.
- The next is Balance. Enhance the capability of leaders in various fields to manage all things in a balanced state. Forward-looking goal setting should be in balance with the current status quo.
- The third is Health. A healthy and resilient body, mind and soul are needed to gain more time and space to survive the severe tests to come.
- Love is the fourth element; as the origin of life as well as the underpinning of hope, it encourages earth-loving actions with a heart of appreciation and gratitude.
- Fifth is Peace. Peaceful resolution of conflicts is taken as the guiding principle for interacting with people and seeing things without bias will win the highest respect and recognition.
Resilience towards environmental changes starts from balance. Mankind’s economic activities have wreaked havoc on the natural environment and the deteriorating environment in turn affects economic activities by increasing operating costs. The rise of a green economy has prompted nations to find an analytical framework to study the inter-relations between economic activities and natural environments. This has become an emerging trend around the globe. On the other hand, eradication of poverty has always been on the agenda of global endeavors. The new economic paradigm caused by environmental impact has made sustainable development a task every world citizen has to undertake in order to save time and resources for future generations.
It is very difficult to manage people’s hearts. Heart Kung-fu is the highest form of Kung-fu. As time goes by, the change of people’s hearts is subtle and difficult to trace. At the first sign of the slightest threat to survival, human beings seek shelters without hesitation; as such, people’s hearts hold the key to the success of any program. Heaven is full of mercy. It has given mankind many inspirations and opportunities, hoping that human beings will be able to awaken to God’s will to exit out of chaos. The Apocalypse of John and many eastern proverbs are philosophical and full of wisdom. Since ancient times, scientists have spent lifetimes searching for answers to the beginning of life and the end of soul. We have to understand that making ourselves better by overcoming our own weaknesses is the key success factor. In this life, the heart is at the service of people, and people’s actions are directed by their heart. Even a slight change of people’s heart can be the key to changing the world’s destiny, especially when the change is in the heart of heads of state and government, world leaders and elite members.
In the 21st century, people’s hearts, like the Domino effect, lead to their own survival. The feelings and aspirations of the people are the objectives of many people’s endeavors. In the area of public governance, this means officers have to adjust and adapt strategies and directions so as not to lose the hearts of people. The same can be applied to other sectors as well. The United Nations, under the leadership of many former secretary generals, has been dedicated to the people of the world for years. However, voices of discontent can still be heard in different places because people’s needs are not being balanced.
I met with the Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on June 15, 2005, and exchanged with His Holiness the idea “No love, no peace. Peace needs love, and love needs to be balanced.” What is Yin and Yang? Yin and Yang are complementary to each other; they are mutually inclusive and mutually exclusive, right and wrong, true and false, real and fake. The two polarized ends are the Yin and the Yang. The reason of the universe lies in the two ends. Taking the middle way between the two ends avoids being extreme. It is possible for something to be not good and not bad, right and wrong, complementary and contradictory, depending upon the situation. This is the centered way of Yin and Yang philosophy. Like a scale, it is necessary at times to adjust the two sides to maintain balance. To sum up, what we have to strive for is the middle point, or the Tai-Ji point, which is balance.
I am very pleased that for decades the Cultural Goodwill Group of World Peace and Love formed by members of AWC, FOWPAL and Tai Ji Men has traveled around the world to meet with world leaders and share the messages of kind words and good intentions to change the world. It is important for education of love and peace to take root, and to connect with various NGOs in all possible aspects. Thus, the impact is deeply rooted in people’s daily life.
In 2010, I was again invited by Dr. Jagdish Gandhi to take part in the 11th International Conference of Chief Justices of the World and the 2010 Global Symposium “Awakening Planetary Consciousness” together with 358 chief justices, judges and world elites from 92 countries. I presented a thesis “Enforceable World Law is the Need of the Hour - Enforce the Rule of Law to Safeguard the Righteous Path.” Seminars were held with faculty members and close to 40,000 students in the City Montessori School to cultivate the rule of law, world citizenship, love and peace, and moral development. The importance of learning and taking actions to cultivate one’s virtue to become better was highlighted to encourage students for their own good.
It takes much longer to educate a person than to grow a tree. I have been delighted to see Dr. Gandhi advocate the concepts of love, respect, peace, human rights and safeguarding the earth in education. The cultural exchange of love and peace can affect people’s mood and form the protective casing of positive energies. We have no other home besides this planet. That is why we have to love it and protect it from sliding into extinction. This is the key to our collective survival. Every one of us has to learn to feel the rhythm of Nature, to think along with it, and to understand its needs and how to balance its needs with ours. Some of our actions will need a fundamental overhaul. World citizens taking actions in sync with the balanced way of nature is the only way to achieve sustainable development.
(Presented for the 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference, Bonn, Germany)