October 18 in the frame of the Day of Spiritual Accord, at 14:00 (GMT + 6), Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) will host an International conference themed: "Strengthening interfaith and interethnic harmony as an answer to modern world challenges ".
Dear friends! This year marks the 30th anniversary of the First World Congress of Spiritual Concord. At that difficult time, it was difficult to choose a venue for the Congress that would be widely recognized by the population of the country and supported by the state authorities. As a result of almost two years of searching, the choice fell on the former capital of Kazakhstan, Alma-Ata.
I was honored to serve as a member of the organizing committee of this unique forum. The First World Congress of Spiritual Concord, held under the auspices of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, brought together over 500 representatives of 54 spiritual and social organizations from 22 countries. Unprecedented was the fact that representatives of the major confessions officially worked together with the followers of non-traditional religions at the Congress. For the first time in the history of mankind representatives of all religions, spiritual public organizations, famous scientists and cultural figures, who are concerned about the problems of spirituality, gathered around one table.
For me, the most unforgettable episode was the common prayer at the opening of the Congress in the Palace of the Republic, when three thousand people under one dome turned to the Creator with the sincerest impulses of their hearts in a single gust. They sounded in unison with the call to preserve peace on earth, to give patience and wisdom to all people, regardless of their religion and worldview, and to provide food and shelter to the underprivileged and orphans. It was then, in a moment of shared meditation, that an aura emerged that for 30 years has provided the life-giving energy to sustain this great endeavor, the strength and opportunity to continue the deeds and aspirations of those people who stood at the origins of our movement.
Today I remember with special admiration and respect the prematurely departed life of Valentin Mitrofanovich Sidorov, the outstanding philosopher, poet and publicist, President of the International Association “Peace Through Culture”, Afanasy Aleksandrovich Veselitsky, the Secretary General of this organization, Lyudmila Ivanovna Shvetsova, a prominent Russian statesman and public figure, and William Augustat, President of the Association “Peace Through Culture – Europe”.
I express my profound gratitude and appreciation to those people who were at the origins of our movement and are still in its ranks, supporting and strengthening our spirit. They are Metropolitan Alexis of Tula and Efremov (and 30 years ago - Archbishop of Almaty and Semipalatinsk), my friend - the wonderful poet and public figure Olzhas Suleimenov, a distinguished scholar and recognized ideologist of our movement Yury Andreevich Ageshin, my friend, poet and thinker Eduard Balashov, and the head of the Soglasiye (Concord) Center, a true peacemaker and humanist, Inna Nemirovskaya-Kun, and many, many others.
As we look back over the past three decades, we take stock of them and think about what we have managed to accomplish and what remains to be done.
At the initiative of the World Congress of Spiritual Concord, a socially significant date - the Day of Spiritual Concord - was inscribed in Kazakhstan's calendar. It is widely celebrated by the public of our country with the full support of state bodies. This unique holiday is not yet in any other calendar in the world, but it is celebrated by our like-minded people in other countries.
With the Days of Spiritual Concord, we have revived the tradition of charity after it had been lost for decades.
It is probably no exaggeration to say that the Spiritual Accord Movement has largely prepared the ground to implement in the future such a global project as holding congresses of leaders of world and traditional religions in the capital of Kazakhstan.
The most important stage of our work was the World Forum of Spiritual Culture, which was held in Astana from October 18 to 20, 2010. For the first time in the world practice the Forum was designed to combine the two wings of spiritual culture: spirituality of religious and secular, which can include everything that is associated with human activity outside of material culture. The first steps in the formation of a qualitatively new subject of the global peacemaking process - the World Movement “Towards a New World through Spiritual Culture” were made at the Forum.
Therefore, the Forum took the baton of the First World Congress of Spiritual Culture in Almaty with its motto “Space. Earth. Mankind”.
It is very encouraging that our experience was taken into account and creatively developed in the establishment the Assembly of Peoples of Eurasia in 2017. Representatives of the Assembly regularly take part in the celebration of the Day of Spiritual Concord in Kazakhstan. For the first time on October 18 last year an international campaign “Day of Spiritual Concord of the Assembly of Peoples of Eurasia” was organized, which is supposed to be held annually. The Assembly made a decision: “To widely spread and reaffirm the traditions of the World Congress of Spiritual Concord and the World Forum of Spiritual Culture (2010 - Astana, Kazakhstan), aimed at strengthening international humanitarian dialogue, respect for the rights of all peoples to peace, friendship and cooperation with specific public initiatives.”
All these achievements do not give us the privilege of complacency or of slackening our efforts in our common cause. Sadly, the world has not become stronger, fairer or safer over the years. Advancement toward peace through spiritual harmony and a spiritual culture has encountered the strongest opposition.
Humanity has come close to the threat of World War III. And some believe that it is already going on secretly in the form of hybrid warfare. Violence is a challenge to humanism and love of humanity. Mutually beneficial cooperation between countries has been replaced by sanctions. Instead of respect and tolerance we see intolerance, distrust and enmity, reaching to hatred. The rift is not only between states, but also between ordinary people, communities and even within families. Moreover, many feel the rift in their own souls.
Yet, as we know, all wars sooner or later end in negotiation and peace. This will be done by politicians and heads of state. And fertile ground is needed for dialogue between politicians. This ground must be prepared by representatives of the peace-loving public using the tools of public diplomacy. And the first ones among them are spiritual pastors, figures of science and culture: writers, poets, thinkers, musicians, etc. Their word, their art - coming from the heart and endured, it is much more accessible than many official speeches of officials.
Now it is important for us to meet as often as possible, to communicate in any format, to raise our voices in defense of peace and life on Earth. To make sure that every voice is heard and can influence the course of events.
And today the call of the First World Congress of Spiritual Concord “For Faith Respect! For differences without strife! For ministry in mercy!” remains as relevant as ever. In the face of unprecedented geostrategic uncertainty and the need to meet the complex challenges of our time, we must be strong in our unity and solidarity.
On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Congress of Spiritual Concord I wish its participants and followers, all our associates and like-minded people good health, strength, determination and unity in fulfilling all endeavors and a peaceful sky over our heads!