[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Monday, March 17, 2008

[Youth for Peace Interfaith Symposium]
Through Habib Hassan of Ba'Alwi Mosque, I was invited on Sunday to deliver the first Peace Lecture at the Youth for Peace Interfaith Symposium organised by the Singapore Soka Association with the theme: Humanising Religions, Creating Peace. (Please see Harold's blogsite for the speech.) It was very well attended by some 4000 participants. I am always amazed by the self-organising ability of Soka youths. As part of the event, a book was published titled: 180 degrees - Yearnings for Peace. I wrote the Foreword below.


1. Everyone wants peace but peace is not easily achieved. Peace does not come without struggle. Sometimes it has to be fought for. In Singapore, all young men have to do National Service and bear arms. To have peace, we must be prepared for war. That is the hard reality.

2. Defence and foreign relations can help to create an external environment favourable for peace. Internally, however, we must also be at peace among ourselves and within ourselves. Very often, it is internal discord which invites external interference. When a person is not at peace with himself, it is difficult for the famly to have peace. When a group is unsettled for whatever reason, its relationship with other groups gets affected. Racial and religious harmony in Singapore cannot be imposed from the top by the government although the government's role is important. It has to be built from the bottom up, starting with the individual.

3. This Symposium brings together youths belonging to different races and religions in Singapore. The values and beliefs which divide us are not superficial. We will fail if we try to homogenize them. While we should seek common ground, we should never think that all the differences can be bridged. Therefore, the first condition for peace is an acceptance of diversity. If we can find it in our hearts to celebrate diversity, that will be very good but it is not always possible. However, we are united by a common yearning for peace and that is a good starting point for our interaction.

Read the speech at Beyond SG


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