-Staff Writer-

MANILA, Philippines (FinalCall.com) – While America continues war in Afghanistan political, religious and community leaders from 28 nations came together Dec. 10-13, to work for peace–through focusing on family relationships.

“I am a changed person. I really learned a lot here especially about peace in the family,” said Dr. Markandey Rai, coordinator of the Global Parliamentarians UN Human Settlements Programme.

“Let it begin with me. We are responsible; we are instruments of peace. We can change the world. We must believe in family and God.”


Those two simple concepts family and God were the theme of the convention, which drew 500 people from countries as far away as Brazil, Costa Rica, Kenya, Mongolia and Paraguay.

Georgia State Senator Emanuel Jones from Atlanta attended and represented the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. “This conference was an experience to interact with stakeholders in the global struggle for peace. Being in Manila gave me an opportunity to learn about local and regional struggles. I talked with people from all different backgrounds, races, religions and cultural differences all centered around the belief to fight for peace and not for war.”

“Being here increases my ability to dialogue with the leadership at home and increases my knowledge of the world and what’s really involved in making peace,” he told The Final Call.

For three days participants attended workshops such as Religions and Peace, the Family and Social Transformation and Faith, Family and Peace and Family as the School for Peace.

Sanity SSG of the Arbinger Institute in Singapore introduced participants to the concept of a heart at war versus a heart at peace. “A heart at war always blames others. People think the battles in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mindanao are the worst. The most prolonged battles are not on the battlefield. They are between spouses, parents, children or family members,” said the presenter. “They can go on for a lifetime. They will remain in struggle until they move from a heart at war to a heart at peace.”

Dr. Jeffery Johnson, president and CEO of the National Partnership for Community Leadership in the U.S., spoke on the role of men and fathers in establishing peace in the family. “The problems in the U.S. are unlike anything you’ve experienced in your country,” he said.

In America, more than 70 percent of Black children are born outside of wedlock, Blacks have the lowest marriage rates and highest divorce rates so when family is spoken of it usually means a woman and her children.

“Father power is awesome but many fathers underestimate their power and influence. We are in a war. It’s spiritual warfare. Father presence matters and responsible fatherhood makes a difference. Men pass on the legacy from one dad to the other,” he told the audience.

Dr. Johnson played a clip of President Obama speaking at the 100th anniversary of Father’s Day last June. “The hole a man leaves when he’s not in the home is a hole the government can’t fill,” said Dr. Johnson. He concluded his remarks by telling the audience, “Parents must assume the responsibility of being the first teachers of love and peace in their family.”

The family situation of Black America is indeed unique. The plight of Black couples to form and sustain healthy marriages is seen as dire by outsiders who don’t understand the complexities of being Black in America.

“What is the problem?” asked Deepa Ra from India. “Why don’t they get married?”

The simple answer, according to many conference attendees, the Black man in America has been destroyed unlike any other person on the planet.

The importance of families were reinforced to participants in sessions throughout the conference. “Education and peace are so intertwined that when children learn at home to be at peace with themselves, they learn to be at peace with the realities of others. The enduring values of marriage and family are critical for children to learn peace,” said Dr. Nona Ricafort, of Philippines Commission on Higher Education.

“The basic mission of each educational system is to develop in each student what is human.”

At the closing plenary Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, founder of the Global Peace Festivals, which gave birth to this first Global Peace Convention said, “This is a tsunami that can’t be stopped. If you can become a leader for peace in your community, neighborhood, state, nation and region, we can change the world. I want you to become the leaders that bring about a change.”

The conference concluded with a trip to Mindanao, which had martial law lifted Dec. 12, after the Nov. 23 election-related massacre of 57 people, including journalists and political supporters of one candidate by 100 armed men.