Global Conferences: Worldwide conferences have inspired hope, say societal leaders
One of the special features of these gatherings has been the participation of officials, traditional chiefs, and community leaders, who have conveyed their appreciation for how these discussions are infusing neighborhoods and villages with a renewed spirit of hope and a heightened consciousness of humanity’s oneness.
Provided below is a sampling of some of the insights and perspectives voiced by officials and leaders—many of whom participated, followed by images and videos of a small fraction of the many conferences that have taken place since the News Service’s last report.
Reflections of leaders on the spiritual principles of consultation, peace, and unity
The mayor of Bucharest, Nicușor Dan, addressed conference attendees, stating: “Only by discussing and organizing together can we see the problems that affect us and the solutions that can make our lives easier and more pleasant.”
The county commissioner of Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Thorsten Stolz, sent a video message, stating that the conferences are promoting “peaceful cooperation.” He continued, “I believe this fundamental idea is more important than ever, especially today. Unity is achieved as we approach each other, and talk with each other as you do during these conferences, removing prejudice and developing an understanding for each other. … Let us all do one thing in particular in line with the idea of your conferences: to improve the world a little more each day.”
Mayor Tobias Wilbrand, at the conference in Egelsbach, Germany, referred to the title of the conference “Together for the betterment of the world”, stating: “Not against each other or in confusion, but with each other. That is the motto of this conference, and… this seems to be exactly the right motto for our time.”
One of the traditional chiefs at a conference in Danamadji in the Moyen-Chari Region, speaking on behalf of his fellow chiefs, stated: “This gathering has opened our eyes. We reflected on the past 100 years to see how we have governed, and now, with new insights, we look to the next 100 years. We now see how important it is to reflect together on the problems that undermine our territories and to find solutions together. For example, we see how Bahá’í educational programs for young people are inspiring them to contribute to their society’s progress.”
Mahamat Hassane, one of the chiefs in attendance at a gathering in Chad, stated: “These conferences will play an important role in the peace-building process in a country all too familiar with myriad crises, violent disruptions, and injustices.”
A village head in the Tamil Nadu region who attended a local conference stated: “The Bahá’í principles of harmony, peace, cooperation, and unity can only be applied through education. … Bahá’í educational programs assist us to see how education can contribute to the transformation of individuals and the community. My wish is that these efforts reach new heights in our village.”
Raju Arjun Dhatrak, a sarpanch (village head) who attended a conference in Hinganvedhe in the state of Maharashtra, addressed various social issues, including the devastating effects of alcohol consumption on families. “It’s very important that we have these conferences regularly, because the Bahá’í principles that we’re exploring are giving us a new perspective on how to build for the future.”
Celio de Jesus da Silva, former leader of the Kiriri people in the state of Bahia, stated: “The Bahá’í principles build unity and strengthen our traditional culture. Although the Kiriri people already value cooperation and working together, the Bahá’í teachings can further strengthen our culture.”
Democratic Republic of the Congo
A conference held in Bakua Kenge, a locality in the Kasai region, brought together some 500 women leaders. In an article about the conference, Clémentine Biongo—a member of a delegation from the city of Kananga—was reported as saying: “This conference is organized in this border city to strengthen the capacities of women leaders of this region on approaches for the preservation of peaceful communities. Women play a very important role in building peace—without their participation there will be very little effect.”
Patti Cooper-Jones, member of the Board of Supervisors for Prince Edward County, Virginia, described the impact of local gatherings as “a light in this dark world we live in.” She added: “We are very thankful… for the vision [of peace] ”
Member of Parliament Wong Chen, who attended the conference in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, stated: “We have many social problems, such as inequality. What we are learning in these discussions is that at the heart of these issues is a spiritual problem.”
In his opening remarks at a local conference in the Pacific Island of Yap, one of the Satawal Island chiefs, Ignathio Emaipiy, stated that unity, cooperation, generosity, and selflessness will be strengthened in the community through the plans that emerged at the conference. “These are the good things the community has been trying to do but didn’t know how to make happen,” he said.
In an article published before several recent gatherings in Bahrain, the state news agency of that country wrote: “The two-day conference… will bring together all components of Bahraini society and will provide an opportunity for the participants to contribute to serving the diverse and cohesive Bahraini community.”
The article continued: “The conference will highlight the importance of community service as an expression of the individuals’ sense of responsibility towards others that allows them to be active participants in shaping their community by contributing to public prosperity, understanding social reality and doing their utmost to meet others’ needs.”
In a letter addressed to the conference, the minister of education, Kitlang Kabua, expressed her appreciation, stating: “Unity, human welfare, and world solidarity are the pillars of this Faith. As the minister of education and, ultimately, member of our community, I stand by these pillars and strongly believe in cultivating our people to be competent and compassionate global citizens with a strong cultural and spiritual foundation.”
The village head of Yang Kaew, who attended a local gathering, stated: “This conference has helped to make our village a better place. We have come together as one to work for the betterment of the community and to help the children, who are the future, to learn about love and unity. I would like to see more gatherings like this where everyone is helping each other.”