Peace BAR Festival 2014 took place on September 18~26 in commemoration of the 33rd UN International Day of Peace.
Peace BAR Festival (PBF), an annual festival in commemoration of the UN International Day of Peace (September 21) is a celebration of academia and culture in search of Global Eminence, a new possibility of Scholarship and Peace. This day was originally proposed by Kyung Hee University and adopted as resolution 36/67 by the UN General Assembly in 1981. This year’s PBF was held under the theme, “Cosmic Humanity and Public Practice.” Participants came together to consider humanity and culture from the perspective of “Big History” and sought the meanings and implications of public practice for a better future.
The festivities began on September 21 with a public stargazing event at the Observatory on the Global Campus. This was followed by an opening ceremony, a roundtable session, the UN Academic Impact ASPIRE (a global program that connects universities in the world in order to promote peace and human rights) Kyung Hee Peace Forum, and a book talk session, which was prefaced by a symposium on Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. The PBF also hosted a public contest open to all students and faculty until October 19 for reviews, short video pieces, and photography in response to the following key thematic works: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey by National Geographic Channel, Cosmos by Carl Sagan, Big History by David Christian, and Oughtopia by Young Seek Choue.
“Peace and security: the foundations for social progress and sustainable development”
The opening ceremony was held in the A&D Hall of the College of Art and Design on the Global Campus. In a congratulatory video message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon remarked, “Peace and security are the indispensable foundation for social progress and sustainable development.” He then called on the viewers to face and challenge the root cause of all conflicts and wars that disrupt peace. “Peace is a long journey that we all must embark upon together,” said the Secretary-General, “I wish everybody to think deeply about the meaning and significance of peace for all humanity and blossom the inner peace that is in all of us.”
In his welcoming speech, President Inwon Choue pointed out that the origin of the universe is embedded in ourselves and that the inner world of humanity is connected to the cosmos. We must, he continued, “embrace the common grounds of philosophy and public practice that would transcend incumbent political boundaries and bridge the gaps of conflicting plutonomic interests for a better future of humankind who shares, after all, the same ultimate origin.”
“Revolutionize perception with imagination from a cosmic perspective”
Following the opening ceremony, a roundtable session was held in the A&D Hall at the College of Art & Design with the theme of “Cosmos, Humanity, and Civilization: The Future of Humankind through a Cosmic Perspective,” which explored new perspectives on humanity and culture through a collaboration of the perspectives of the humanities and natural science on mankind.
Prior to the main discussion, the panelists briefly expressed their thoughts on understanding humanity and civilization from a cosmic perspective. Chancellor Dongwook Lee of the Kyung Hee Academic System remarked, “Since the scientific revolution, mankind has expanded the reaches of their view of the universe as far out as 13,800,000,000 light years away. However, on matters regarding our inner selves, we are still practically ignorant. That ignorance is leading our civilization towards an irrevocable doom.” He named greed and selfishness as the main culprit that keeps mankind in ignorance and said, “In order to overcome this hold of ignorance, it is essential for us to revolutionize our inner perception through imagination from a cosmic perspective.”
Spinning a narrative of hope in the face of crises
Despite the seeming success of modern industrial civilization, a pessimistic outlook on the future of humanity and civilization is ever increasing in persuasiveness due to the crises in the environment, social inequality, and political unrest. The panel members agreed, however, that it is the forte of humankind to be able to spin a narrative of hope despite the grim crises in reality that we face. Professor Hyungjo Han from the Academy of Korean Studies of the College of Humanities said, “It is the natural state of mankind to pursue inner happiness, and those who have a firm hold on their existence and potential can extend their desire of personal inner happiness to altruistic public practice. The future of mankind will inevitably stem from those altruistic public values that are naturally created in mankind’s pursuit of personal inner happiness. One must awaken that hidden potential and talent through a penetrating insight into one’s existential reality.” Geumsil Kang, former Minister of Justice, stressed the importance of self-discipline and control of greed. She said, “One can give meaning to his or her own life because of the ability to dream and imagine, and how you imagine your life will decide what kind of life you will live.”