Martha Gallahue, Leader in ESEC, has spent an active summer participating in The US Army War College Seminar Series at Carlisle, Pa, (by invitation): at the 98th Annual American Ethical Union's National Assembly in Fairfax, Va. whose focus was on criminal justice; as Workshop Facilitator in Brooklyn Society on the "culture of ethical culture"; as key planner for a United Nations High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace, September 6th in collaboration with the President of the General Assembly.
She is an interactive psychoanalyst in private practice in NYC and in active conversation with three grown children all in public service. Her lead edu-learners (mutual educators) are her two grandchildren Teagan and Neve, seven and four years old. She also guided our ESEC youth member Lucy Schmitz through a min-internship at the UN.
Over 1000 civil society participants participated in the World Interfaith Harmony Event sponsored by the World Peace Prayer Society. This event was convened by the President of the General Assembly Mr Vuk Jeremic to honor World Interfaith Harmony Week and was inaugurated by Jordan. Under Secretary-‐General Jan Eliassan represented Secretary-‐General Ban ki Moon. Eleven major religious traditions delivered 30 second affirmations of belief and commitment to inter-‐ religious peace from their own faith perspectives. They were Indigenous, Baha'I, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Jain, Jew, Muslim, Sikh and Zororastrian. Ethical Culture through National Ethical Service represented the Humanist Affirmation. Lucy Schmitz, NES Youth representative delivered the address from the podium. Lucy, member of Ethical Society of Essex County is a Youth Intern with National Ethical Service.
Video of Lucy at the UN: http://webtv.un.org/watch/united-for-a-culture-of-peace-through-interfaith-harmony/2165451739001/
Sometimes when so much polarization exists in the world, we might be reminded of the good things going on in the world. In the last 30 years, The United Nations has become the largest forum for peacebuilding initiatives world wide. One such event is The World Interfaith Harmony Week, first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.
Other groups of goodwill are now included in the calendar event and this year, I am honored as Leader at Ethical Society of Essex County, to represent National Ethical Service, the NGO associated with Ethical Culture at the UN, during this event held in the General Assembly Hall on February 14th. I have been working with United Relgions’ Initiative as a spiritual humanist for over 10 years. It was affirming to hear a Lutheran Minister, in Seattle, Washington, speak during her Christmas sermon, of the need to reduce the divide between the secular and religious inspiration. She urged us to highlight our shared values and expressions of good will.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets The movement has grown in response to the urgent need to end inter-religious strife. This week will allow for these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties. Last year there were over 300 events held throughout the world.
Notes from the Leader
About a week ago, Samuel G. Freedman wrote an article in the NY Times that required a response. Here is what was sent to the Times....
"Samuel G. Freedman's NYT article: "In a Crisis, Humanists Seem Absent" certainly raises a number of questions for humanists and practitioners of ethical religions. I find it hard, though, to get past Freedman's question about the "nones" (Americans who say they have no religious affiliation) being absent from the dealings over the Newtown, CT shootings. The implication, that serious organizations get themselves in the news around crises, is at odds with what I expect the families and the Newtown community needed in the weeks following the tragedy. The comfort of familiar faces and gifts of quiet and anonymous support would have, I imagine, been much preferred to the media press that ensued. Are humanists absent from the crisis? Many humanistic organizations, my own included, have long ago stepped into the fray to promote peaceable living and to call for limitations on the prevalence and availability of lethal force. We have been, and we are, showing up, Mr. Freedman, and we are in it for the long haul."
Bart Worden Executive Director American Ethical Union (the Federation of Ethical Societies)
We've received the sad news that Dr. Matthew Ies Spetter died on December 30 at his home in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Dr. Spetter was Leader Emeritus for the Riverdale Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture for whom he served for 40 years and was also Leader Emeritus for the New York Society for Ethical Culture. A memorial service is planned for the early spring.