2023 Global Peace Leadership Conference Indo Pacific

Keynote Address

Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon

April 13, 2023


Welcome & Greetings

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is my great honor to be with you here in India, the cradle of an ancient spiritual civilization in the heart of Asia.

I want to thank my good friend Dr. Markandey Rai, chairman of GPF India, as well as our convening partners, the Indian Council for International Cooperation, Manav Rachna University, and Yuvsatta Youth for Peace, for organizing this important convening. So, give them all a round of applause.

I am also pleased to acknowledge the many important Indian spiritual teachers as well as key leaders from around the Indo-Pacific region, including Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia and Africa. Please give them all a round of applause.

Your participation is very meaningful as this vast region will play a central role in determining the future direction of humanity and the prospects for peace and prosperity in this region.

State of the World Today

Ladies and gentlemen, the world is in crisis.

The rise of “Woke” politics is challenging the traditional Judeo-Christian values and classic liberal views of the West and its institutions from within. There is an alarming cacophony of conflicting ideas about society and the human condition, from the nature of the state to individual identity and gender relations. The result has been widespread political and social instability, uncertainty, and moral confusion.

The liberal ideals of western democracies rooted in individual freedoms and “inalienable” rights are being undermined for the sake of collective conformity with almost religious fervor. Although the end of the Cold War revealed the evils of socialism and communism, a new secular Marxist worldview is taking hold in the West, uprooting its values, norms, traditions and institutions.

This unfortunate reality is eroding the common ground upon which society can stand as both progressive and traditional sides become more polarized, creating an untenable situation. This “Woke” orthodoxy is not content just to undermine the traditional values upon which Western democracy stands, sowing discord within. It seeks to export its ideas to other cultures such as those of India, East Asia, and traditional African societies and twist their values into its own distorted image.

In the realm of geopolitics, we are witnessing the rise of assertive statist powers that are prepared to impose their will on their neighbors, reminiscent of the actions taken by totalitarian regimes of the last century that led to two World Wars and the Cold War. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia was a shock to most in the West that had become complacent about Putin’s ambition to restore the territorial influence of the former Soviet Union. Heading into the second year of the war, there seems to be no end in sight for the near term as Ukraine seeks to regain its lost territories and Russia fortifies its positions.

Here in Asia, China has made it clear that it is prepared to violate Taiwanese sovereignty, even by force, under its “One China” policy. That is why so many experts are concerned by the war in Ukraine since many believe that Chinese authorities are studying that conflict and its implications for their invasion of Taiwan. The US has preempted that concern by showing its commitment to the island’s defense through the well-publicized visit of the former Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year and the recent meeting with the current Speaker McCarthy and Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.

The threat to Taiwan and China’s intent on controlling the South China Sea, the world’s most vibrant trade route, through the creation of military island bases has raised alarm among all its neighbors in the Pacific. These provocative moves have led the US and its allies to join in a variety of new organizations. The Quad treaty of the US, Australia, India and Japan, advanced by the late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was considered the “Asian NATO” in response to the rising threat of China. The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity of 2022 represented fourteen regional nations with a combined economic output of 40% of the world’s GDP as a counter to China’s efforts to economically influence the region.

These developments and President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Russia and the Middle East are beginning to solidify the emerging lines between the free world and the world under Chinese influence.

The Rise of the Indo-Pacific and the Need for Guiding Spiritual Principles

Ladies and gentlemen, the tides of history are shifting from the Atlantic sphere to the Indo-Pacific. 

In this geopolitical environment, any nation that cherishes the ideals of fundamental freedom and human rights would clearly be wise to align with the US and its democratic allies. For the threat that China poses is the rise of totalitarian statist regimes that challenges the ideal of liberty. It is important to note that, although China has adopted some aspects of a market system, it never relinquished its one-party communist rule or the Maoist revolution; and it never embraced democracy nor the ideals of liberty that form the foundation of the free world.

Given this threat to liberty, the confusion being spread by the “Woke” Left in all western democracies is even more alarming. At no time in human history should the West be clearer about its core values and whence its freedom and rights derive. Many of the activists living in the West, however, take them for granted, failing to recognize the hard-won religious and philosophical milestones, rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic, that gave birth to them.

The formation of the United States of America in 1776, through its Declaration of Independence from the British empire, planted the seeds of those ideals with its pregnant second sentence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The foundational premise in those immortal words is that human freedom and rights come from the transcendent power of God, our Creator, and not any human authority or institution; and that they are “unalienable.” In our current global circumstances, there is an urgent need to clarify and uplift that time-honored universal spiritual principle. It is important that we understand which ideas will lead to a peaceful, harmonious future and which will dissolve social bonds, leading to chaos and anarchy.

What is important to note is that all democracies are not truly free, as was the case in ancient Greece and even the Roman Empire; nor are they immune from the tyranny of mob-rule. Such spiritual principles provide the much-needed compass to navigate through rapidly changing norms and guide humanity toward God’s original ideal, which I believe, is rooted first and foremost in families centered on the original, creative love of God. We do not have to look far to find evidence of these universal principles. 

We can find them in the great faith traditions that have preserved, taught, and practiced those time-honored traditions that point to the innate value of human life and the proper order in human relationships, especially in the family, as well as to virtues by which to live. Throughout history, God has inspired the founding of various faith and wisdom traditions to elevate human consciousness and cultivate ethical civilizations. 

It should be people of faith who lead the world to peace. I believe the vision that can unite and inspire humanity to transcend all the walls of division is none other than “One Family under God.” All faiths should cooperate and adopt this vision to build a world free of conflict, reflecting the highest spiritual ideals, rooted in universal principles and values that reflect God’s truth, righteousness, goodness and love for all humanity.

Only then will we be able to harness the power of faith to transform the world and build true everlasting peace and harmony for all. We can no longer afford to proclaim that we are all “One Family” while continuing to live in our separate boxes.

The Non-Violence Paradigm and its Korean and Indian Roots 

Ladies and gentlemen, my homeland of Korea and India share a special relationship in history that will have important implications for this century.

There is a historic connection between our two countries that goes back two millennia. In the first century CE an Indian princess, known here I believe as Suriratna, sailed to Korea, married King Suro and became the queen known to us Koreans as Heo Hwang-ok. There are memorials to her in both our countries. That marriage alliance tied our ancient civilizations and made clear that there were significant connections between our two countries at that time and ever since.

In the last century, the Korean Sam Il independence movement, launched in 1919 while the Paris Peace Conference was being held after World War I, influenced Indian independence by introducing the platform of mass non-violent protest rooted in universal spiritual truths. Two million Koreans on the peninsula, ten percent of the population, engaged in peaceful protest over two months, making it the largest demonstration of non-violent resistance up until that time.

It was in 1920 that Ghandhi then formulated satyagraha or “truth force” that became the governing philosophy behind the Indian non-violence movement. In 1929, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, a leading thought leader of Indian independence, met with Korean students in Japan and was deeply moved by the undying aspirations of the Korean people. He immortalized those aspirations in a famous quatrain called “Lamp in the East” describing Korea as one of the ancient sources of light in Asia, waiting to be relit “for the illumination of the East.”

The main impetus for independence movements in both Korea and India in the early 20th century relied on their own ancient spiritual traditions. In the case of Korea, it was motivated by Hongik Ingan that mandated the Korean people to “live for the benefit of all humanity;” and for India, it was vasudaiva kutumbakam that proclaimed that “The World is One Family.” As a result, both movements were not driven simply by resentment toward the colonial power. Certainly, they wanted to be free of foreign rule, but each had a greater vision of a peaceful and harmonious coexistence with their oppressors as well as their neighbors after independence.

Later, this approach became the inspiration for Martin Luther King Jr and the American Civil Rights movement. Dr. King applied the spiritual principle of non-violence to prick the conscience of a nation. He looked to America’s founding creed of equality to hold the nation to account for its moral failure in its treatment of black Americans. His historic “I Have a Dream” speech did not simply condemn the injustice but called all people to renew their commitment to those founding ideals.

Similarly, in South Africa, Nelson Mandela adopted the principles of non-violence rooted in universal truths while he was in prison for his attempt to violently overthrow the apartheid government. There in prison, he learned to forgive his oppressors and later worked with then President de Klerk, in the early 1990s upon his release, to dismantle the system of segregation. He became the first president of a multi-racial South Africa in 1994 and played a central role in reconciliation between the races, being globally recognized for his work and statesmanship. 

Due to our two countries’ important legacy in shaping the most significant movements for freedom, equality and human rights of the 20th century, I believe that our destinies, those of Korea and India, are intertwined. We have an even greater role to play in this century, as the world stands on the precipice of war and chaos. Our unique spiritual heritage and history of non-violence place us in a unique position to champion peace in the Indo-Pacific region, here in the southern heart of Asia and the pan-Pacific rim to the east, and eventually the world. 

Let me share something else that our two nations have in common. Korea is a 5,000-year-old civilization. Yet, throughout our entire history, we never invaded any of our neighbors. We were attacked and invaded over 900 times throughout the course of our history, but we never attacked our neighbors. But, because of the spiritual principles of Hongik Ingan, we internalized that suffering to be able to love humanity because of the providential mandate in our founding to live for the benefit of mankind.  That is the power of spiritual principles, our unique spiritual heritage. Let us never forget that.

The Korean Dream and Launching of a New Era

Ladies and gentlemen, before we can open a new chapter in the story of this region, we must bring a close to the last vestige of the 20th century’s tragic legacies of colonialism and Cold War geopolitics that remain on the Korean peninsula.

It is deeply ironic that the nation which initiated the paradigm of non-violent mass protest rooted in universal truths remains divided to this day, unable to realize the aspirations of the Sam-Il movement from more than a century ago, when every other colonized people, as well as nations in the Soviet sphere of influence, were eventually able to achieve national sovereignty and unification. Thus, Korean reunification is of utmost importance in setting a new precedent for peace in Asia and the world.

I have developed a new vision for unification called the Korean Dream. Unlike past efforts, it draws upon the ancient Korean philosophical ideal of Hongik Ingan, which precedes the current ideological division by millennia, to tackle the present challenge. It was the impetus behind the high moral ideals of the independence movement and gave all Koreans a sense of providential purpose to create a model nation that could “benefit all mankind.” It challenges the divided peninsula to discard the foreign construct of division and recognize its common identity and destiny.

In order to do this, I plan on relaunching the paradigm of the Sam-Il movement to bring about unification. To that end, I have created Action for Korea United (AKU), a coalition of civil society activists, organizations, NGOs and associations that represents millions of South Koreans. To date, we have more than a thousand partners united in the largest grassroots movement for unification in the history of the two Koreas.

We plan to hold peace rallies in the South that will climax in 2025 with a massive event for unification that will highlight the 80th anniversary of Korean independence from Japanese rule. Dreamers are the ones who change the world. Imagine if tens of millions of Koreans on the peninsula and the diaspora as well as supporters from around the world gathered their collective voices to demand the peaceful unification of Korea. Surely, the metaphysical and physical wall that divides the peninsula will fall and a new era will dawn for the Korean people, the Indo-Pacific and the world.

I hope and trust that the spiritual and thought leaders here will recognize the moment and give your support for the Korean Dream. The rising prominence of India in this region is evidenced by its role in hosting the upcoming G-20 meeting, drawing upon the rich heritage of Indian spirituality to create the theme of “One Earth, One Family, One Future.”  It is also noteworthy that India is convening the “C-20” of civil society counterparts to G20, giving substance to spiritual principles and values by promoting the essential value of service and the ethos of one family.

This is highly significant because of the clear recognition that politics, economics, and technology alone are inadequate to resolve the many challenges facing the world today. These challenges arise, at root, from a clash of fundamental worldviews that can only be effectively addressed by drawing on deep and ancient spiritual traditions and the universal truths they embody.

What is most important is that we recognize the universal principles that are manifested in these traditions. We are all essentially connected in the one human family, and we are one family because of our shared origin in the Creator God. Our inherent value and fundamental rights are endowed to us by God.  To encapsulate these truths in a way that all can easily grasp, I have long advocated a simple yet profound vision statement – One Family under God.

A Call to Action and New Delhi Declaration

Today, young leaders, spiritual leaders, scholars, and others from civil societies across the Indo-Pacific region have taken ownership over the vision of One Family under God.

You have concluded important discussions on its implementation in areas related to youth, education, values-based peacebuilding, and the environment. I look forward to the New Delhi Declaration you are issuing today that will outline specific initiatives that will give substance to the noble theme of this GPLC Indo-Pacific.

Today, I am announcing that the Global Peace Foundation and its partners will establish the Indo-Pacific Leadership Forum to further implement this movement fostering one global family, guided by traditions and values shared across all the cultures gathered here.  I have asked Dr. Markandey Rai to organize and lead this initiative and invite your contributions from across the nations of the Indo-Pacific.

The Leadership Forum will work in this region in a similar way to the Latin American Presidential Mission that I founded. Through it, public-minded former presidents work for the benefit of Latin America through promoting peace, cooperation among countries and spiritual and material development of the people.

I hope that each one of you will become peacebuilders in your respective spheres of influence and join with us in the great movement for global peace.

Let us all commit to become the moral and innovative leaders who invest our passion, energy and talent to serve the greatest good -for the benefit of all humanity, that together, step by step, we can finally realize the greatest dream of all, the dream of One Family under God!

Thank you, and may God bless you and your families.