Prem Rawat Sends Video Message to Nordic Peace Conference
On August 18, 2012 more than 200 students and faculty members of the United World Red Cross College (UWC) gathered for the Nordic Peace Conference in Oslo, Norway.
This conference was held as a result of an historic event that took place at the European Parliament in November 2011, where a Peace Declaration was signed by over 30 European institutions, including UWC. The Pledge to Peace declaration was the first of its kind ever signed at the European Union.
Under the patronage of the 1st Vice President of the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, the Peace Declaration was inspired by the message of Prem Rawat, who was its first signatory. The signing institutions committed to carry out peace activities that would be declared on International Peace Day 2012 and on every Peace Day thereafter.
The Nordic Peace Conference was one of those initiatives. Students from 83 countries had arrived in Oslo for the start of their new academic year. Peace was the subject, and the format of the event was interesting and varied.
Starting with the announcement that the conference was afforded the good wishes and patronage of the former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Laureate, Marti Ahtisaari, the young student MC invited Par Stenback to speak. Mr. Stenback is the Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Following his presentation the students viewed a video message from Prem Rawat made especially for the students. Mr. Rawat sent his apologies for not being able to attend, as he was in Mexico for another event at that time.
The 14-minute direct-to-camera video explored the nature of human beings and their desire for peace. Saying that he was but a small voice for peace in the world, Rawat called on the audience to join together so that the voice for peace could become very loud. He spoke about the amount of destruction that was going on in the world and the levels of greed that exacerbated it. Practicing peace, he said, was what was essential to human beings—not practicing anger, greed, and unconsciousness but finding humanity. Watch the full video.
A short break followed, and students networked and expressed their excitement and inspiration at seeing the video and hearing a message they had never heard before. One student said, "Why have I not heard this message before? It was so inspiring. I would love to invite him to Jordan where I live and where we have such difficult problems."
Another student said, "It was really stunning...his message was quite distinctive from other messages...talking about individual peace and how civic society's peace can stem from it...I see what he is saying is key to international peace." (See video below.)
A student from Sierra Leone said: "I really got a great amount of inspiration from Prem Rawat's speech. What he said is what we need in the world. I personally have never heard him before but I really got inspired when I heard him speak." (see video below)
As the event continued various students spoke about their very different projects toward peace. These included gender equality, providing support for displaced people seeking asylum, helping the visually impaired and developing humanitarian strategies in parts of war-torn Africa. All the projects were inspiring and eloquently presented.
The Peace Conference continued well into the evening with guest speaker Jeremy Gilley of Peace One Day expressing why he had wanted to do something for peace in his life.
He thought it was impossible to create a day of peace and thus by failing, as he expected to do, he could say how bad the world was. However, despite many setbacks, to his great surprise he succeeded.
The International day of Peace, 21st September, was born in 2001.
Jeremy's story was a wonderful example to all those present that even in great adversity, barriers can be broken and wonderful things can be achieved. He referred to how Prem Rawat's words in the video had inspired him, especially those about practicing peace and coming together as one voice, a theme that continued into the evening.
As 11 p.m. arrived and the conference finished, the young students of UWC climbed aboard a bus for an overnight drive to their college some nine hours to the north, happy and full of new thoughts and feelings about peace.