【朝好新闻 / 仰光】The future University for Life & Peace held a Commencement Ceremony for its Winter School 2020 on January 8 and featured a keynote speech by Professor Nay Htun, Honorary Patron & Founder of GEGG Myanmar (Green Economy Green Growth), and former UN Assistant Secretary-General at UNEP and UNDP. GEGG has been organizing a number of significant forums over the past decade to explore themes on all things Green, sustainable development, regenerative capacities, etc.
Professor Nay Htun opened his keynote with two weighing quotes – ‘People ignorant of history will be punished by the past’ / ‘Your tomorrow is decided by what is being done today’ – to appeal for people’s serious attention to our deteriorating ecology. Throughout mankind’s civilizations from the past over the present into the future, limited natural resources like land, rivers, water, and forestry have forever been accessed and exploited excessively that inevitably accounts for our severely damaged ecology. Human history has since long revealed that fair and inclusive access to natural resources is always critical to mitigating disputes and wars. Professor Nay Htun further said that as early as some 2.5 millennia ago Buddha himself already discourse about the essence of an inter-reliant symbiosis, in that ‘one must respect all forms of life’.
Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) Founding Abbot, says that ecology has its roots in spirituality and life is the extension of the memory matrix. All things are inter-related and -dependent, and things impact one another in a diverse symbiosis, with none in the position of independent and stand-alone existence. The insight and the train of thought shared by Professor Nay Htun lend themselves well as explanatory remarks to Dharma Master Hsin Tao’s philosophy.
Professor Nay Htun is of the opinion that Natural Laws dictate the protection of resources of water and air that belong to all people, and Nature fights back
when ecology suffers excessive abuses. Watershed cases in point include the Great Smog of 1952 in London that killed more than 4,000 people and prompted the British Government to legislate the ‘Clean Air Law’ in 1956. That very same year 1956 also witnessed quicksilver poisoning in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture, rendering patients impaired in motor motions, hearing, speech, dementia, etc.that could progress to bouts of spasm, even deaths. The Minamata Disease remains without cure even today.
It was around that time in the late ’60s when quite a few books on the environment became best-sellers to catch people’s attention to public health issues. International limelight soon followed with consequent burgeoning actions. An environmental science book ‘Silent Spring’ by author Rachel Carson in 1962 took the world by storm with that arresting title alone – excessive use of chemical pesticides inflicted severe damages to ecology that Spring went silent with no bees and birds to usher in a new cycle of the year or life in general at that.
Marine biologists were not alone in becoming concerned with the environment, as Dharma Master Hsin Tao has also been proactive in environmental issues for quite some time over the years. His consistent contributions over decades to the CPWR – the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions – suffice to illustrate. At the 3rd CPWR in 1999, Dharma Master Hsin Tao delivered a keynote on paying respect to the universal environment without exploiting the Earth’s resources excessively. At the 4th CPWR in 2004, he spoke about his cosmic view on biology in search of a sacred root for the world’s inter-reliant co-existence. The 5th CPWR in 2009 saw the Master deliver an appeal for world peace and harmony that demand environmental protection policies as a prerequisite as well as putting an end to the insatiable human greed. Then the 6th CPWR in 2015 was when the Venerable Master argued that meditation can help transcend people’s state of mind and that Life & Peace is the core of a diversified symbiosis. The 7th CPWR in 2018 was when the Master shared insight in global ethics of ecology as to be manifested by the University for Life & Peace project. In parallel to the CPWR and in 2019, the first Winter School of the future University for Life & Peace debuted in Yangon Myanmar as a pilot project. Winter School 2020 is set to transform consensus into action and run on the theme of ‘Healing the Earth: A Transformative Action of Ecology & Technology’ with a faculty comprising of experts from 8 countries like the US, England, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, etc., and the student body made up by elites from 11 world-renowned campuses like Yale, Cambridge, the University of Beijing, etc. The Winter School 2020 program aims to achieve workable strategies for transformative actions that interloop ecology and technology in the course of a fortnight.
The Winter School 2020’s topical theme of ‘healing the Earth’ also echoes Professor Nay Htun’s working experiences at the UN. The highlight of his tenure of more than 20 years at the global body was action-taking besides promoting theories and contributing professionalism. That the UN declared June 5 ’the World Environment Day’ is evidence and proof that the world is urged to take the issue of environmental protection seriously and actual actions are called for indeed.
In closing, Professor Nay Htun shared with the audience this heartfelt statement – ‘Let us care for our common home, the Earth, with happiness, sharing, tolerance, and compassion. Future generations rely on what you do today, not tomorrow.’
photo1 Pro. Nay Htun speech (photo by LJM)
photo 2. Pro. Nay Htun (photo by LJM)
photo 3 faculty (photo by LJM)