Climate Change has a devastating impact on those living in poverty, but the effects are being felt worldwide. Most recently, 55 million people were affected by Hurricane Sandy, which stretched 900 miles and killed 113 people.
We must do our part to respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part, by not only educating ourselves and others on the causes and effects of climate change, but also taking the proper steps to preserve the world in which we live.
Last week, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) attended a climate change meeting hosted by the Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organization (DPI/NGO) at the United Nations. Fighting poverty remains one of the highest priorities not only of the UN development agenda, but also for the Climate Task Force at the UU-UNO. Climate change has become an apparent problem in the lives of many living in extreme poverty, interfering with and sometimes halting development. Guest speaker at the DPI/NGO meeting, Daniel Buckley, a member of the Climate Change Team for the Environment and Energy Group in the Bureau for Development Policy of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), emphasized that the failure to deal with climate change will affect 40% of the poorest populations. Combating climate change is imperative. It causes life-threatening problems such as poor water quality, resulting in increases in fever, diarrhea, and malaria as well as other diseases. Although most of the facts presented in this meeting were already familiar to the UU-UNO, I found it was important to hear guest speakers calling for action. According to Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN, Abdul Momen, more than five million people in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, were forced to leave their homes due to permanent flooding and are now part of the “floating population”, whom live in very harsh conditions, with a lack of sanitation and other civic amenities. Pakistani school districts have been regularly destroyed and their children cannot receive education on a consistent basis. Natural disasters cause greater inequality and social injustice. (more…)
Our November 3rd , the UU-UNO’s 50th anniversary celebration almost didn’t happen. Just days before, New York City and the surrounding area was hit by Hurricane Sandy. We had worked on this event for over a year. Scott Seale and Marilyn Mehr headed a 50th anniversary celebration committee that worked tirelessly for months to prepare for a New York City Gala event to celebrate the UU-UNO’s 50 years of service at the United Nations. We debuted a wonderful documentary film of our 50 years at the UN.
The film, like the event itself, was the product of a lot of volunteer help. Emmy Award winning actor Andre Braugher volunteered his exceptional narration skills for the film. Gavin Grace, who is not a UU, volunteered his talent as a videographer because he so admires the work the UU-UNO does for international LGBT rights. All our speakers on the video also volunteered their talent and time, as did All Souls NYC Archivist, Lorraine Allen. We benefited from a grant from the UU Funding Program to allow us to put the video together. LDJ Productions, volunteered their exceptional production skills to give us a flawless evening at the NY Times Center.
So with all this preparation and the volunteer support of so many wonderful people, we are more than prepared for biggest bash in the 50 year history of the UU-UNO.
People were flying in from all over the USA and Canada for the event; and then America’s most destructive storm hit New York and New Jersey doing some $70 billion worth of damage. While hurricane Katrina cost more lives, because of the built-up nature of the New York Metropolitan area, hurricane Sandy did far more damage. My husband and I hunkered down in our powerless apartment and wondered if all our planning would be destroyed along with so much else in New York City.
We worried that the NY Times Center might not have power. Senator Stevenson might not be able to fly in from Chicago. The catering firm might not be able to fulfill our food order. As New York City quickly began to restore infrastructure to many parts of Manhattan, we also picked up the pieces of our event and pulled it off in grand style. Some of our out-of-town friends decided not to brave post hurricane Sandy New York. However, all our speakers arrived from near and far. We had guests fly in from California, Canada, Texas and elsewhere to attend our event. Some of our staff had serious transportation problems and some volunteers left powerless or damaged residences to carry off a grand evening. Given the havoc of just days before, our grand gala was all the more special signaling the courage and persistence of the UU-UNO determined to weather all storms to, in the words of Rev. Peter Morales, “not just to survive, but to prevail.”
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
The Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament announced to cheers from parliamentarians that she would allow the infamous anti-homosexuality bill to come up for a vote before Christmas as her Christmas gift to the country. The international community with the UU-UNO playing a leading role has kept this bill at bay since 2009. It seems at long last, after so much effort, the Ugandan Parliament will ignore the best advice of human rights advocates from around the world and pass the bill. It is yet unclear what the bill will entail. In its original form, it called for the death penalty for homosexuality and for prison sentences for anyone who fails to report a homosexual to the police within three days. There are some rumors that some of these more egregious provisions will be modified. The death penalty might be reduced to life in a Ugandan prison at hard labor. It will likely remain impossible for health care workers to provide care to those who have same-gender relationships, thus eviscerating Uganda’s national HIV/AIDs strategy. With passage of the bill seemingly an inevitability, the only hope is that the Ugandan President may veto the bill. He has said that Uganda already has still laws which criminalize both homosexuality and the promotion of homosexuality. The latter law has been used recently to end any discussion of LGBT rights. Most societies, including our own, find it a long and difficult process to accept sexuality different from the majority. However, such change is possible in a society which guarantees the right of free speech. Laws in Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, Iran and elsewhere make it difficult or impossible even to discuss such matters making change that much more difficult. We are calling on people to pray for all those oppressed by all those regimes which oppress individual expression and speech. There are many petitions that we urge people to sign to convince the Ugandan President to veto the bill should it pass. My personal favorite is on AllOut.org. As it happens, Andre Banks, Executive Director and co-founder of AllOut.org will be one of our two keynote speakers at our April 4-6, 2013 Spring Seminar. Register online for the spring seminar using “trip code” HIP7061.
UU-UNO Spring Seminar
As you’ve just read, violence and oppression against the LGBT population in Uganda is getting worse. It’s also getting worse in Nigeria which also about to pass legislation against same-sex marriage, which is already illegal in Nigeria, but the new legislation will also include prison terms for anyone who performs a same-sex union, witnesses one, or advocates for one, whether this is done in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world. This and other global events will be discussed on our upcoming April 4-6 Intergenerational Spring Seminar entitled Sex, Love, and Violence: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in a Globalized World. Youth arrive at the host congregation on the evening of April 3rd. Our keynote speakers are: Charles Radcliffe: Chief, Global Issues Section of The Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights Andre Banks: Co-Founder and Executive Director of AllOut, “Adding people power to the historic fight for LGBT issues”.
Early Bird Rates (until March 1st)
Senior (65+) $295
Young Adult $225
Day Rate $160
Rates after March 1st until March 15th Deadline
Senior (65+) $355
Young Adult $285
Day Rate $160
Online registration is now open. When you are asked for a “trip code”, please enter HIP7061. The UU College of Social Justice is collaborating with us and we are using their website, which is usually used for UU service learning trips, to register people for the seminar. They will pass your name on to us and we’ll send you registration materials. You can also send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) after you register and we’ll send you materials about our exciting seminar. Remember registration includes the cost of most of your meals at the seminar and also accommodations at 4thUniversalist Church NYC for youth.
Last week in Uganda the piece of legislation known to the world as the “Kill the Gays Bill” passed in Ugandan parliamentary committee. The bill can be voted into law any day and the Ugandan House Speaker has promised to pass the bill as a “Christmas gift” to the Ugandan people. Since 2008 when Uganda was inundated by high profile western Christian fundamentalists who preached against homosexuality in large conferences, a growing homophobic sentiment has taken hold in Uganda. Harsher punishments for homosexuals have overwhelming majority support in both Ugandan public opinion and government. This bill would represent a barbaric regression for Uganda’s human rights record. Besides directly punishing homosexuals, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) advocates and LGBT allies, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance warns that the bill would have a disastrous impact on the country’s HIV response.
The bill proposes harsher punishments for homosexual acts, advocacy and even allies. The original bill calls for the death penalty or life prison sentence for “aggravated homosexuality” –defined as when one of the participants is HIV-Positive, or considered a “serial offender”. The bill also prohibits any public support for LGBT rights. Concepts like pride, anti-gay bullying, gay safe sex initiatives or LGBT outreach would all be illegal. The bill also criminalizes those who do not report homosexuals. Parents, teachers and even priests would be punished if they don’t report someone who tells them that they are gay. Landlords who rent to gay people would face up to three years in prison. Finally, and most insidiously, the bill exonerates those who kill gay people if they feel threatened; promoting the kind of mob killings and lynchings that lead to the death of Ugandan Gay Activist David Kato last year. (more…)
This past Friday, November 9th, 2012, the UU-UNO presented the New York Premiere of a new documentary, “The Invisible Men”. The film follows three gay Palestinian young men who are forced to escape from persecution at home in Palestine and are hiding illegally in Israel. Each of these men are eventually granted legal asylum in Western Europe. The film explores issues of Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender asylum, LGBT life in the Middle East, and how gay people are affected in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The screening was followed by a panel discussion and a questions and answer session.
The Panel included Yariv Mozer, the film’s director; George Tenreiro, an immigration attorney specializing in LGBT asylum and Bruce Knotts, the UU-UNO Director and former Regional Refugee Coordinator for West Africa. Mordechai Levovitz, a social work intern at the UU-UNO moderated the Panel and Q & A. After the Panelists introduced themselves and shared their thoughts on the film, Mordechai read a letter from Sa’ed Atshan, an LGBT Palestinian advocate who was supposed to be on the panel but decided against it. The letter talked about the importance of Palestinian people framing their own narrative and not using an Israeli funded film as a centerpiece for this discussion. Sa’ed also accused the film of being part of a Pink Washing Campaign in which to juxtapose Israel’s good LGBT laws with Palestine’s poor record on LGBT issues.
The Panel responded to Sa’ed’s letter, with Mr Mozer explaining that all films in Israel receive some government financing, but films can be and often are very critical of Israeli policies. He felt that the film is quite critical of Israel’s laws on LGBT Palestinian refugees, and in no way is the film propaganda for Israel as a country. Mr Knotts added that the role of any diplomat is to accentuate the positive while minimizing the negative aspects of their countries policies. He followed that this is not unique to Israel, and such the pink washing accusations are unfair. All the panelists lamented that Sa’ed chose not to come and be on the panel, for they felt that his points of view would have expanded the narrative. Bruce announced that Sa’ed may be involved in a follow up panel about being LGBT in the Muslim world, to be presented at the UU-UNO spring seminar week in April.
There were close to thirty audience participants, including representatives from the Israeli and Swedish UN missions. Most of the participants were from United Nations consultative Non-Governmental Organization’s working in Human Rights. Questions from the audience ranged from Middle East issues, the process of LGBT asylum, US policies for LGBT refugees, Gay Cinema, information about filming the movie, and follow up about the film’s subjects. Mr. Tenreiro talked about the challenges that LGBT refugees face when applying for asylum in the US, and how these applicants prove that they are indeed persecuted in their homeland for being LGBT.
The program was successful in bringing the story and plight of this especially vulnerable population to the UN community. Being that the Israel-Palestinian issue is one that arouses divergent views, especially at the UN, It would have been helpful to have some healthy disagreement on the Panel. Being that Sa’ed or any voice of objection decided not to come, the panelists were mostly in agreement about things. Hopefully, we will be able to incorporate some respectful debate in our next event. This being said, the audience was visibly moved by the film, and seemed encouraged to think of ways to better help LGBT people seeking asylum. People wanted to continue this discussion and some voiced interest in returning to this subject matter during the UU-UNO Spring Seminar on LGBT international issues.
On Saturday, November 3, 2012, The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office celebrated its 50thAnniversary at the Times Center, in New York City. Guests were greeted with the lovely sounds of a jazz trio playing live music, a red carpet photo area, a delicious spread of cheeses from around the world, passed hors d’oeuvres, a full bar and countless exciting items lined up for the silent auction.
The feeling of joy in the air at the UU-UNO 50th Anniversary was palpable. In the face of the worst storm to hit the New York Metro Area in recorded history, more than 100 friends and supporters of the UU-UNO arrived at the Times Center to celebrate a milestone achievement for the organization. This dedication to come out in support during less than ideal conditions is representative of the same dedication that has brought the UU-UNO to its prominent position in both the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Nations itself. It was truly amazing to see generations of UU-UNO supporters, from Senator Adlai Stevenson to Maura Roosevelt, to current UUA President Rev. Peter Morales to the interns of the office past and present, sharing drinks and dialogue and coming together to lift up the hard work, sacrifice, and love that has allowed the UUA to flourish.
The silent auction raised thousands of dollars, exceeding the UU-UNO’s fundraising expectations. During the formal presentations each speech expounded the incredible importance of the UU-UNO within the local and global spheres. In honor of the organization’s ability to sustain itself over the last fifty years and to live up to its necessary responsibility, Director Bruce Knotts publicly received two awards. Mr. Knotts was given the Leadership Award by the 50thAnniversary co-chairs, Scott Seale and Marilyn Mehr and the St. Paul’s Foundation Award for International Reconciliation from Rev. Canon Albert Ogle. Mr. Knotts graciously thanked the entire Unitarian Universalist family for making all of the UU-UNO’s efforts possible. The UU-UNO’s 50th Anniversary was a night that brought together different threads of the Organization’s past to focus on the future weaving of a peaceful, just and sustainable world community. If the smiles that were present on the faces of those leaving the event were any indication, that future is irrepressibly bright.
Save the date for our annual conference: Intergenerational Spring Seminar! Every April, youth and adults from around the United States and Canada gather in New York City for our exciting and educational Intergenerational Spring Seminar. This year’s seminar topic will work to stop violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It will take place from April 4th-6th, 2013, with sessions at the United Nations Headquarters, the UN Church Center, and the Salvation Army. More details are soon to follow www.uua.org/lgbtq/witness/international.
In celebration of October 24th, UN Day, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office invites congregations and individual UUs to deepen their understanding of the United Nations by devoting one service with this topic in October. This service reaffirms the connections between UU principles and vital issues dealt with at the UN. The UN Office offers the UN Sunday 2012 Resource Packet as a resource for congregations to plan a meaningful UN Sunday. This blog post will provide readings, meditations, reflections, and poems that follow our 2012 topic of Race and Immigration. Keep checking back this blog post for weekly contributions as we encourage you to utilize these resources for your UN Sunday Service and events.
Our final reading for our 2012 UN Sunday celebrity contributions was written by Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray who is the senior minister at the UU Congregation of Phoenix, Arizona. This contribution is an excerpt from one of her sermons, Love Boldly. At the conclusion of this excerpt is a poem written by Alberto Blanco (as well as the English translation).
Excerpt from Love Boldly
Compassion. Compassion was the theme of Karen Armstrong’s Ware Lecture at last year’s General Assembly. In her lecture, Armstrong showed how compassion is at the heart of the world’s religious traditions. It is embodied in expressions of the Golden Rule found in Judaism, Confucism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and more. That which is hateful to you, that which would cause you pain, refuse to do to another.
Armstrong spoke not only to the principle of compassion at the heart of religious teaching, but the practice of compassion as a goal of the religious life, the work of ongoing practice and mindfulness, the work of learning to stretch one’s heart to reach out to another. Not in pity, which she described as a false definition of compassion, but “to suffer with,” “to endure with” another their pain. This definition of compassion removes barriers. Pity maintains distance, and also protects privilege. True compassion seeks to remove that distance and break down walls of separation and division.
A. Powell Davies offers this same powerful message, calling us to be a religion that says “we will never have hearts big enough for the love of God, until we have made the big enough for the worldwide love of one another.” The love of God, this is the ultimate goal expressed by so many religions, the path to salvation some would say. Yet, what Davies says, echoing the teachings and scriptures of long ago–is that this achievement, this Love, is found only through the work of stretching our hearts (more…)
International Human Rights has only been a documented declaration for half of a century however; nation states and governing bodies around the globe have been concerned with human rights issues for centuries. Under this Human Rights umbrella, Women’s Rights are drawing increasing attention.
Half the Sky is an amazingly well written book by two journalist, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, who have traveled the world recounting first-hand stories of Women’s Rights violations at the individual and community level. Some of the issues covered include gender based violence, female genital mutilation, sex trafficking, maternal health, gender inequality in education, and economic empowerment. On October 2nd and 3rd the Half the Sky movement premiered a two part documentary film on PBS, in an effort to raise awareness surrounding these critical Human Rights issues. As the authors have proclaimed, “these are not women’s issues, they are human rights issues.”
Poverty, conflict, and lack of education are critical factors in the prevalence of these issues at an international level, but what is the United States excuse? These are U.S. issues too, domestic violence and trafficking are prevalent within the U.S. borders. As a country, the United States speaks and advocates on behalf of women’s rights. President Obama just gave a speech at the Clinton Foundation in support of efforts to end human trafficking. Yet, as a country, we are not living what we advocate. The United States is one of 6 countries (out of 193 nation states) that has yet to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. These are not issues of others; these are domestic and international issues and violations that transcend gender and geographical borders.
Violent and discriminatory acts directly impact all aspects of women and girls lives, their destructive nature also permeates the larger community, impacting economic growth and social stability. These are issues that directly challenge the value of women within a culture and within societies. The lack of value that cultures place on their women is seen repeatedly through actions within communities. The use of rape as a weapon of war, the lack of access to basic maternal health care, the act of “controlling a woman” through mutilating her genitals, the ability to sell a woman into sexual slavery, failing to provide education for girls, choosing to abort fetuses or kill infants based on gender; the list of brutal acts of discrimination and displays of devaluation are numerous.
It is gut-wrenching to see, in the film, that women are also sometimes the perpetrators of violence; seen through the brothel owners and women performing female circumcisions. This speaks yet again to the lack of value afforded women, sometimes even from themselves. This devaluation based on gender dually works towards dis-empowering these women. Dis-empowerment is a dangerous poison. In the face of violence and discrimination women are left feeling powerless, ashamed, and fearful. How can they not be when they are shunned by their own communities and unsupported by their law enforcement and legal system?
Do not make the mistake however of thinking of these women as victims, calling them victims only continues to dis-empower them. They are survivors, and they are the key to making fundamental cultural shifts within their communities. Watching the film, I was struck by the amazing resilience and drive of many of these women. In spite of all the brutality they have and continue to face, they are taking a stand. In order for movement and cultural shifts to continue, these women need leadership skills and a voice in decision making and peacekeeping bodies.
It is critically important that change is enacted at the grassroots level. This movement is a call to action to both men and women. To support and promote human rights for women, men must also serve as allies in effecting change. We are all human, and as human beings, we have a social responsibility to aid these women in accessing resources and empower them with education and economic capacity building. Nicholas and Sheryl offer a solution for beginning to create this shift, education. So many people take education for granted, yet in many countries around the world it provides a safe haven for girls, an opportunity for a new life. The “ripple effect” of educating girls is addressed in the book and the film, discussing how educating a girl can change the family as well as positively impact the community and economic structure of a country.
Despite having read the book prior to watching the documentary, I had a physical reaction to seeing such raw, real emotions and stories of women around the world brought to life. Awareness is the first step to change, and so many of us around the world remain unaware. Half the Sky is an enlightening book and film, which draws attention to the prevalence and severity of Women’s Rights issues with such shocking clarity that it is impossible not to be moved to action.
Please visit www.halftheskymovement.org or call the Unitarian Universalist-United Nations Office at 212-986-5165 to learn more about these issues and how you can get involved. If you are interested in hosting a 40-minute screening and discussion of the film, Half the Sky, please email email@example.com.
* In the end it is not only women that suffer from these violations, our world suffers*
On Thursday October 4, 2012, the Second International Convocation of Unitarian*Universalist Women kicked off its three day conference in Marosvásárhely, in the Târgu Mureş region of Transylvania.
Drawing over 240 participants from Transylvania, the United States, India, Hungary, Japan, England, the Netherlands, Germany, and beyond, the meeting’s theme is centered around “Keeping Your Balance in a Changing World.”
Among the many purposes of this conference is the rare and wonderful opportunity for U*U women to come together from all over the world in solidarity around women’s issues. Participants are afforded opportunities for cross cultural understanding and sharing, in essence, the chance to broaden horizons while strengthening our global community.
Thursday night’s opening ceremony featured opening remarks from Barbara Kres Beach, president of the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women, greetings from Rev. Bálint Benczédi Ferenc, Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church (previously known as the Transylvanian Unitarian Church), and Nagy Gizella, Co-President of the Women’s Association (Unitarian Church of Marosvásárhely). Following the welcoming dinner, participants learned traditional Transylvanian folk dances while a live band performed!
The 1st International Convocation of U*U Women, which took place in Houston, TX, in 2009, inaugurated a small-group process, “Global Sisters,” a process adapted from the Community Capacity Building program. The key principle of this community-based planning process is the belief that, with the help of experienced facilitators, a community can organize its existing information, mobilize its resources, and can ultimately create consensual action plans to help its own development. Implementing this small group process for this year’s convocation, participants have been split into 11 Global Sisters Groups to collaboratively problem-solve some of the issues affecting women in their respective communities throughout the three-day conference. The process has revealed, so far, overwhelming similarities in the issues facing women across the various represented cultures.
Friday’s morning program entailed a panel discussion on balancing religious/spiritual practices with our fast lives, in exploration of the various aspects of our faith in today’s world. Rev. Jill McAllister (USA), Rev. Dr. Ann Peart (England), and Rev.Székely Kinga Réka (Transylvania) each spoke about the various ways they pursue and achieve balance in their lives by way of spirituality. After a festive coffee break, Margot Adler and Dr. Komáromi Tünde discussed folk culture, pagan traditions, and different approaches to the holy. A panel on developing women’s leadership for peace and multicultural understanding, featuring Dr. Kathy Matsui (Japan), Smaranda Enache (Transylvania), and Dr. Creamlimon Nongbri (India) followed, as did a variety of workshops ranging in topic from domestic violence prevention to compassionate communication to leadership training and traditional herbal healing.
Saturday’s program will feature the official opening ceremony, presentation of the colors, Unitarian march, a short presentation of the wandering tablecloth, a forum on balancing family and career, and reports from the UNOSZ (Unitárius Nők Országos Szövetsége). An afternoon presentation featuring dance and music from Hungarian, Gypsy, Armenian, Romanian, Jewish, and Saxon cultures is also planned, prior to a panel on the feminine face of the divine.
The convocation concludes on Sunday with a panel on weaving a web of sisterhood around the world, and a variety of workshops on community capacity building, partnerships, improving the status of women, and even one on vampires vis a vis Earth and its moral struggles.
Packed to the brim with discussions, workshops, and activities, these three days bring together a dazzling cast of dynamic U*U women engaged in their communities to lead us all in activities designed to educate, enrich, and empower not only the lives of all in attendance, but also of those at home in our respective congregations and communities who stand to benefit from the learnings we will all carry with us in the days, months, and years ahead.
A Memo: Connecting with Unitarians and UU’s Around the World, CAREFULLY
To: UUA Ministers and Religious Leaders
From: Eric Cherry, UUA International Office
Cathy Cordes, UU Partner Church Council
Jill McAllister and Steve Dick, International Council of Unitarians and Universalists
Date: September 14, 2012
It is so exciting to see the many ways that our UU faith is connecting around the world – so many congregations and ministers are now making a variety of international connections! We are thrilled that UUA churches and individuals are looking beyond their own doors and even beyond their own geographic communities and connecting. The UUA, ICUU, the UUPCC and other organizations stand ready to support your outreach in a variety of ways. We invite you to contact us at any point where we can be helpful. We are writing today to offer some advice based on our joint experience working with UUs here and in other countries.
Much of this new activity is aided with new communication tools that make contact easier and keeping in touch possible. Social media programs such as Skype and Facebook make it easy to learn of possibilities and to meet people over the internet.
Our UU global community is growing both bigger and smaller! Bigger in the sense that people around the world continue to discover our liberal tradition and establish it in their own countries and regions, and smaller in the sense that it is so easy to connect with each other around the world. This gives us reason to both celebrate and pay close attention, for there are good ways to connect, not-so-good ways to connect, and ways to connect which can cause huge problems. (more…)
by Derek Gumb and Allison Hess, Interns at the UU-UNO
Youth and young adults from around the world met at the UN last week for the 11th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations. Twelve interns, staff, and UU youth attended the conference and represented the Unitarian Universalist UN Office. The Youth Assembly was addressed by around 40 panelists and speakers over the course of the three days, focusing on work being done right now for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and action youth can take to make a difference and bring their ideas and passions into fruition. We got the chance to hear from some amazing leaders and innovators, to exchange ideas from our peers around the globe, and even to visit some permanent missions to the UN, including Liechtenstein, Angola, and Antigua and Barbuda. Throughout our experiences, we realized how the principles of UU and the UN dovetail together so well and below we reveal to you some connections we made between our experiences at the Youth Assembly and our UU faith.
The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office, along with the rest of the United Nations and its affiliates, promotes global citizenship and understanding for a more peaceful world, along with the sixth UU principle: the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. One way to work towards this peaceful world community was brought to light by Mrs. R.N. Ramgoolam, the Consul General of Trinidad and Tobago. She suggests creating peace through cultural sharing. In order for all peoples of the earth to get along and understand one another, we must learn about each other’s cultures. Youth sometimes feel powerless; since we have not yet developed career skills, we feel as though we have nothing to share with the world. Mrs. Ramgoolam proposes that youth in fact have much to contribute to the world community. While we still have much worldly knowledge to acquire,we do know our own cultures and can share our cultural songs, dances, art, food, stories, etc. with others that we meet. In this way, we all broaden our horizons by learning about a different way of life, and our perspectives can change from local and secluded to global and welcoming. (more…)