Build a Conscience Nurtured Future for Next Generations
Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze
Zhang-men-ren of Tai Ji Men
Vice President of the Association of World Citizens,
NGO in Consultative Status with ECOSOC and Associated with the UN DPI
President of the Federation of World Peace and Love
November 20, 2023
Distinguished Guests, Dear friends, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good day!
The 20th November is the World Children’s Day, marking the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Rights of the Child. In recognition that children are not objects who belong to their parents and that they are human beings and individuals with their own rights, the Convention went on to become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.
Compared to adults, children are vulnerable and need special protection to realise the rights they are entitled to. They need time to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish in conditions of peace and security. The adoption of the Convention represents a promise by nations and governments to improve the protection of children’s rights and their well-being. It’s been 34 years since the adoption of the Convention. Although the work has achieved some progress, the facts and statistics regarding the neglect of children worldwide are shocking. According to UNICEF, an estimated 1 billion children lack necessities as basic as nutrition or clean water. The recent UNICEF – World Bank analysis also found that an estimated 333 million children globally – or 1 in 6 – live in extreme poverty. Even in the world’s richest countries, one in seven children still live in poverty. Poverty denies children their fundamental rights to health, protection, education and much more. As the old saying goes, "When you have enough food and clothing, you will start thinking honour and shame". If the basic needs of survival cannot be met, how can there be any room for the safety and health of the mind?
The 17 SDGs under United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, individually and collectively, are highly relevant to the well-being of children, for example, no poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality and Clean water and Sanitation are especially critical and relevant to the survival and development of children.
The world is in turmoil, with wars tearing apart families and displacing children. Geopolitical conflicts, epidemics, depletion of natural resources, and extreme climate change are threatening the very existence of mankind. Discrimination and human rights persecution caused by unjust systems also violate people's right to live and work in peace and security. What can we do to reverse all these disasters and tragedies and return to a clean Earth suitable for survival and thriving for us and the next generations?
The material world is the function of hearts. If we want to change the world, first we have to cultivate our hearts. One minute a day for self-reflection and meditation will help us achieve a state of determination, tranquillity, ease, deliberation and attainment in the place of greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and suspicion. With a clear mind of stability and harmony, we will be able to see the root causes and formulate sensible solutions.
On World Children’s Day, children and young people stand up for their rights and speak out on issues that matter to their generation, from climate change, education and mental health, to ending racism and discrimination, calling for adults to create a better future. It is our shared responsibility to answer the call. Governments and civil society need to work hand in hand to develop the optimal solutions. Not a single nation is capable of completing the work alone, rather a holistic solution is required to ensure no child is left behind.
Children reflect our future and our past. Everyone’s journey is to grow from a child to an adult. Looking at children, we are reminded of how we grew up and the profound influence of our parents, teachers and surrounding adults. Childhood experiences shape a large part of adult behaviour and influence the world. It has been said, "Lucky people use their childhood to heal their whole life". It is our mission to create a better environment for our children to grow up in, and to provide them with a happy childhood that will nourish them for the rest of their lives.
Culture is the summary of human civilization. Good cultures enable good education and good education will bring a good economy. In addition to the physical, a colourful culture heritage is one of the most important elements to enrich the lives of children life. It is our responsibility to create a culture of peace with love and conscience for future generations.
Let’s work together to realize what UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated “We want the world our children inherit to be defined by the values enshrined in the U.N. Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance, and solidarity.” May every child be healthy, happy, safe and blessed.
Thank you all.