IGNITING A CULTURE OF UNDERSTANDING AND PEACE
In a beautiful room set up in the Washington Times, a diverse group of powerful women and men gathered on March 25th, to celebrate Women’s Day and the unique role and responsibility that women have. We gathered together in the embracing atmosphere created by WFWP. Together we explored the vision of peace that women are uniquely able to bring to the table.
The event focused around a panel of four women, each of different cultural backgrounds, who shared from their hearts the wisdom of their faith traditions. We heard from Dottie Chicquelo representing America’s First People, Bishop Petra Kidwell representing the Christian faith, Rhonda Williams representing the Jewish faith, and Zulfia Qahar representing the Muslim faith. Each of these powerful, beautiful women gave unique perspectives and insights into the response-ability that women are called to lead with, and the influence that women have on the men, families, and communities in their lives.
From Mrs. Dottie Chicquelo we heard about the Native Cherokee woman, who sees herself as a servant to Mother Earth and Father Sky. She is equal to men and has significant power and autonomy; and she counsels and teaches spiritual practices. Ms. Chicquelo spoke of the barriers affecting Native Cherokee women and the grassroots movement needed to band together to face such issues as starvation, the Pipeline on Standing Rock, lack of self-actualization, and the preservation of spiritual beliefs.
Bishop Petra Kidwell spoke passionately about the empowerment of women, who are called to become everything that creation wants them to be. Women are to be the CEO’s, entrepreneurs, speakers and coaches to fight for the protection of the family and for equality. We women have a role to play in the universe. Bishop Kidwell proclaimed that the problems we think hinder us are actually our strengths.
Mrs. Rhonda Williams shared beautiful and powerful wisdom on the role of women, who are created in the image of God uniquely as women. She shared that in the Jewish tradition, women are responsible for giving education of the heart, and that the highest law is to preserve life. In response to the lies that society bombards us with, Ms. Williams proclaimed that we are the masters of our fate. We have the power to forgive, to lighten the burden, to pave a smoother way for our descendants, and to repair the world.
Ms. Zulfia Qahar shared the beautiful perspective from Islam of the roles that women have as the sister, the wife, and the mother. She shared that in the Qur’an, God created man and woman as equals, and that our differences are meant for us to learn from each other and respect each other. The men in our lives learn from us. Ms. Qahar shared from her experience that all religions believe the same fundamentals. It is our responsibility to educate each other and pass on the message that we can get along with one another. We can bring peace to the world.
Our audience asked the panel a powerful question: what can women do to bridge the gap between different cultures? The answer from the panel was simple: different cultures first need to know each other. It requires getting out of one’s comfort zone, having an experience with the culture in mind, and developing a relationship with someone of that culture. We need to feel like family with people from different cultures, so that we can be family in substance.
The event culminated with a powerful message from WFWP President, Angelika Selle. She called for us to be the ones who can ignite a culture of heart. She spoke about three components to the vision of WFWP: empowering women to establish a culture of heart in their own environment; educating those around her with a lifestyle that embodies the logic of love; and following the lead of WFWP’s founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who is constantly striving to actualize substantial change to this world.
She went on to say that the feminine type of leadership is a unique aspect of God’s heart. It is different from men’s leadership. It stems from the heart of a nurturing mother. She concluded by saying, “Women are not here to compete with men; we are here to complete men. It is time for women to take responsibility for the ways we are influencing the men in our lives. Achieving this begins first with understanding our own precious value. Enlightened women are women who practice what they preach; who lead through example; and whose loving leadership inspires change in others.”
After that inspiring message, we had the opportunity to participate in an informal Bridge of Peace ceremony. Each of the participants searched the room to find someone to be paired with: a sister or a brother of another background. Each pair had the opportunity to connect on a deep level, to recognize the pain of the past and to offer loving energy to each other. The pairs signed a resolution:
I accept and embrace you as my sister/brother in heart and in substance. Together we will:
Challenge our differences and learn to see them as gifts and blessings instead of barriers.
Meet at least once to break bread and share our stories.
Do something together to heal historical trauma that impacts each other.
Visit your place of worship.
It became clear to me that it is now time for inspiration, vision, growth, and change. The intercultural dialogue here today sparked a light in the ongoing flame of healing and leadership for women, families, and cultures worldwide. Thank you so much to the chapters in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia for organizing this very relevant event.