One Hundred Years On*
Steve and Janet Nation
The year 1999 presents people of goodwill with a remarkable opportunity to build for the new. The millennial spirit will be abroad. The media will involve humanity, as never before, in a unique process of reflection: looking back at the past and looking forward to the future. There will be conferences, gatherings and events in all areas of life to celebrate the passage into a new century. Those of us who hold the vision of a new humanity-one that is more truly characterised by justice, global unity and right relations between human beings, groups and nations; between humanity and the Earth; and between humanity and the Cosmos-have a special contribution to make in these millennial gatherings. We can ensure that in the process of looking back at the past there is full recognition of the visionary pioneers who have helped to raise the quality of human life and action. Looking to the future we can strengthen the current of positive visualisation, clarifying objectives and shining the light of our thoughts and aspirations on future possibilities, and on the way forward towards those possibilities.
A series of gatherings scheduled to take place in The Hague in May will be one of many high points of the year. What gives these Hague gatherings special significance is that they will be celebrating the centennial of a landmark event in the evolving life of the one humanity. One hundred years earlier, in May 1899, The Hague was the setting for the first ever official International Peace Conference. This conference marked the beginning of the modern international system; the beginning of the process which, in 1945, led to the creation of the United Nations. It was, in the words of a diplomat at the time, "the first Conference of the entire world ever held."
One hundred years on, three main events in The Hague are planned to honour the centennial of the 1899 conference. There will be an official conference for government legal advisors. Between five and ten thousand people are expected at a citizens' conference, The Hague Appeal, focused on international law, disarmament, the peaceful settlement of disputes and humanitarian law. And an international coalition of individuals, groups and organisations is organising World Peace-Inner Peace Conference 1999, both to honour the achievements of the pioneer peacebuilders of 1899, and also to explore future opportunities for peace building and peace making from the holistic perspective of our times. In 1899, peace was primarily conceived of in terms of disarmament, and the mediation and resolution of disputes between nations. In 1999, when we think of peace we see a much broader picture. World Peace-Inner Peace Conference 1999 will be focusing on the environment, education, healing, universal spirituality, economics, human rights, the arts, conflict resolution--exploring each as a pathway to peace; an interdependent element in the process of creating a culture of peace.
Today we look towards the future from an increasingly accepted planetary perspective. We might not often have the maturity to act, or even to want to act, in line with the global realities of modern human affairs, but it is a fact that a very significant proportion of human beings are now thinking in terms of the one humanity and the one earth. One hundred years ago the picture was very different. There was no sense of an international community and little evidence that nations had any will to work together to solve their common problems.
The extraordinary growth in human understanding since 1899 is reflected in the way peace is thought of today, as indivisibly linked to all the global problems that imprison the human spirit. The challenge in 1999 is to bring the holistic perspective of peace to life within all spheres of human activity and at all levels-local, national, continental and global. In this process we can expect a reformed United Nations to be a focal point, both reflecting the evolutionary growth of humanity and acting as a catalyst for that growth. And we can visualise the Peace Palace in The Hague and all other places of spiritual power for the one humanity, being used with far greater effectiveness.
The personal and collective efforts of people of goodwill to cultivate and practice wisdom in thought and action are creating the global atmosphere in which the Spirit of Peace can hold sway. This is the vision inspiring World Peace-Inner Peace Conference 1999. ¨
"Not egoism dwells in the heart but pan-humanity...the heart is verily an international organ...How necessary it is to learn to feel one's heart not as one's own, but as the universal one." Heart, par. 7
*This article has been excerpted with the authors' permission from the booklet, "One Hundred Years On," written as a background paper for the "World Peace--Inner Peace Conference, 1999" to be held from May 18-20, 1999 in The Hague. A copy of the full paper, together with information on the conference, is available from World Peace-Inner Peace 1999, Slotlaan 31, 3062 PL Rotterdam, The Netherlands.