GPF President James Flynn Cites the Need for Moral and Innovative Leadership in Brazil

Global Peace Foundation
November 24, 2015

Solemn Ceremony – National Congress of Brazil

November 13, 2015

Remarks by James P. Flynn

International President, Global Peace Foundation

To listen to the audio click here and go to the two minute mark.

Your Excellencies, distinguished leaders of the Congress, special guests:

I am honored to address this prestigious solemn ceremony in the Great Hall of the Congress of Brazil. On behalf of the Global Peace Foundation and our Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin P. Moon, let me express our sincere thanks and deep appreciation to Congressman Marquezelli and the distinguished Deputies who have made this occasion possible.

I also would like to especially appreciate the esteemed statesmen of the Latin American Presidential Mission who are being recognized today: H.E. Vinicio Cerezo of Guatemala; H.E. Nicolas Ardito of Panama; H.E. Luis Alberto Lacalle, and H.E. Jaime Paz Zamora of Bolivia.

This is a time of great opportunity but also of significant challenge for the global community. This year of 2015 marks significant milestones – 70 years since the end of World War II, as well as the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.  Over the past seven decades, the UN has expended tremendous effort and resources to promote peace and security. Yet despite such dedicated efforts and enormous investment, wars, conflicts, terrorism and violent extremism continue to plague our world today.

Technology and globalization are impacting the lives of people everywhere, driving change at a breathtaking pace. We can communicate, transact and travel with an ease previously unimaginable.  We’ve seen many amazing advances, yet on every continent conflict and corruption still cripple human progress. If we consider just the financial impact, the costs are staggering:

  • For example, the Institute for Economics and Peace estimates the global cost of violence containment at nearly $9.5 trillion.
  • The World Bank estimates that globally over $1 trillion are paid in bribes each year.

Our most pressing challenge today is an ethical one.  Our technology can gather massive data on our browsing habits and consumer preferences, but cannot help us to respect each other, forgive each other, or live together peacefully. General Omar Bradley most aptly described the dilemma we face, when he said:

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.

We are faced with a significant gap between our external development and our ethical maturity. Technology can dramatically improve our quality of life, but it can also be used for weapons of mass destruction. We are in dire need of ethical leadership, leadership with moral authority, to address the debilitating shortfall in values that undermines the promise of the 21st century.

Transformative leaders of the 20th century – Gandhi, King, Mandela – were such persons of moral authority.  Of the importance of values, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “this is a moral universe, and there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.”

The theme we have addressed in our convening here is very meaningful: “Brazil, toward National Transformation: Development and Integrity through Moral and Innovative Leadership.”  This unique combination – moral and innovative leadership – encapsulates the qualities needed for leaders today.  A moral leader is guided by an ethical framework, and acts with integrity. GPF Chairman, Dr. Hyun Jin P. Moon, who first introduced the framework of moral and innovative leadership in 2010, said:

The role of the moral leader is to lay out the vision and set a course toward it, guided by universal principles and values. The moral leader lives for the greater good, looking beyond selfish interests whether personal, sectarian, or even national.

On the foundation of a solid ethical framework, innovative leadership can tap the wellspring of innate human creativity and ingenuity, to address even the most intractable social problems.

Why is such leadership so needed today? Global communications, commerce, and migration have brought profound and rapid change, so that we now often live and work with others who are very different ethnically, racially and religiously from ourselves. Dramatically changing social norms, tensions between those of different religious or cultural backgrounds, and uncertainty about the future, can understandably lead to deep struggles about meaning, purpose, and identity – especially among youth.

We must address the roots of identity-based conflict if we are to build peace in our diverse and pluralistic world. A global consensus is urgently needed that uplifts our common humanity as our most essential identity, and that affirms the universal values necessary for social cohesion in diverse societies. We at the Global Peace Foundation believe that the starting point toward that consensus is a simple yet powerful vision statement that can inspire our common effort to build a world of sustainable peace – One Family under God.

It is our conviction that all people – regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or station in life – share a common essence and heritage – our “humanness” extends beyond even our most pronounced external differences.  We are all part of the one human family. And we are one family because we all share a common origin, the Creator God.

This is the perspective that motivates the work of the Global Peace Foundation, promoting a values-based approach to peace-building guided by the vision that uplifts our common humanity.

But vision alone is not enough; it must lead to actions that benefit society and solve problems. Thus GPF works with partners to develop models, locally and globally, to resolve conflicts and build social cohesion based on shared values; to engage moral and innovative leaders as agents of social transformation; to empower families and youth; and to forge pathways to development for the well-being of all.

For example, GPF’s key priority is promoting peace on the Korean peninsula through unification of the two Koreas, mobilizing a broad civil society coalition and citizens’ movement in South Korea that uplift the time-honored ideals shared by all Koreans. In Paraguay, GPF is working closely with the IDPPS institute to promote models of good governance in the Chaco region and the nation as a whole, and in the region, draws on the strengths of the respected statesmen of the Latin American Presidential Mission as mentors of moral and innovative leadership.  In both East and West Africa, GPF and its partners are providing interfaith leadership in innovative programs to address youth radicalization and identity-based conflict.  Here in Brazil, as well as in Paraguay, Kenya, Malaysia and other nations, Global Peace Education is partnering with Ministries of Education on the signature “Character and Creativity” initiative, investing in youth to become ethical citizens with the entrepreneurial skills to succeed in the 21st century economy.

We are grateful to be here today in the Congress of Brazil; this nation is an important leader in Latin America and the world, and Brazil itself is at a crucial turning point.  As the nation wrestles with political and economic crises, sparked by ethical failures, the question remains: what path should the nation take, and who can lead it?

With Brazil’s deep roots of faith and spirituality, as well as its heritage of diversity and openness, it has the resources to transform itself into a vibrant model for the diverse nations of the world today.  Moral and innovative leaders, those whose lives and actions have given them moral authority, can be the catalysts for historic change, especially when guided by such a vision as One Family under God. Such leaders can draw upon the strengths of faith communities and civil society, and with a righteous cause, can inspire young leaders to step forward to make a difference.

The youth of today are citizens of a new era, able to shape a new destiny. They can choose to leave behind the 20th century legacy of conflict and war, and can build a future of hope and peace. Out of the current challenges here in Brazil could begin a groundswell for change, led by a values-based youth movement that uplifts integrity, respect for all, and a spirit of compassionate service to the greater good.

More than political, economic or military power, the power that can transform our world is the power of the human spirit. It is the human spirit that aspires to greatness that can overcome even the most serious obstacles, and calls forth the noble qualities of our character.

With that spirit, as moral and innovative leaders, let us work together to build nations and a world free of conflict and corruption, free of poverty and disease, and filled with abundant opportunities, peace and prosperity for every member of the global human family.

Again we are most grateful to the National Congress of Brazil and its leaders for organizing this very meaningful program and recognition.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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