The merit of humanity in preserving peace is immeasurable.
Let peace break out—let war break down.
Contributions to peace are multiple and widespread.
War is sweet to those who have not tried it.
Ban Ki-moon, former leader of the United Nations, and Irina Bokova, former leader of UNESCO, have been nominated for the International Gusi Peace Prize in 2023. The nominations come from the World Philosophical Forum in Athens, with President Igor Kondrashin and the 1st Vice President of the International Gusi Peace Prize, along with Jeffrey Levett, Honorary President of the World Philosophical Forum in Athens and an International Gusi Peace Prize Laureate. These esteemed leaders have been recognized for their significant contributions to promoting peace, philosophy, and global citizenship on a worldwide scale.
The International Gusi Peace Prize, which recognizes excellence and acknowledges distinction in various fields, was inaugurated two decades ago. It is underwritten by the proclamation of the Government of the Philippines (Presidential Proclamation No. 1476, signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo). It was established after prominent individuals undertook a worthy initiative with encouragement and support from various quarters in and out of the Philippines. They established a foundation that annually recognizes significant contributions towards world peace by individuals from all parts of the globe. The award is known as Asia’s foremost and is referred to as the Nobel Peace Prize of the East. With it comes the key to the city of Manila. The prize carries no monetary reward but is conferred with the expectation that the recipient will continue working for peace. Jeffrey Levett received the award for his services to global public health, the dissemination of Hellenic thought, and the principles of classical philosophy.
As humanity faces an awesome threat as a result of existential problems and growing social dementia within society, with mass dysfunctional human behavior equivalent to suicide, a return to Greek classical philosophy is necessary. As the world confronts the greatest bid for the division of power based on greed, lust, and self-interests rather than on reason, morality, justice, wisdom, and responsibility found in philosophy, it is most imperative to work much more vigorously towards world peace. This is the ambition of the Gusi Laureates. Individuals mainly (institutions rarely) receive the International Gusi Peace Prize to honor exemplary contributions to global peace and progress through international brotherhood and friendship and by using their God-given talents for the benefit of mankind. The vision of the Gusi Foundation, Manila, is a world of peace and prosperity in agreement with the Gusi Peace Prize ideals (godliness, unity, service, and internationalism), which are totally embraced by all nations. The first Laureate was Anthony Quinn in 2002; Michael Nobel became a Laureate in 2010, and S. Powdyel, former Minister of Education, Bhutan, in 2011. Fellow Laureates include the youthful and dynamic mayor of Manila, former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, Bhekie Maphalala, minister of justice, Swaziland, and Outreach Professor Dr. Halo-N, Malaysia, promoting Eurasian Bridges for Peace. Laureates have come from many fields, including medical, education, child psychiatry, vision and brain research, philosophy, and activism in India. Nominations for 2023 come from Sweden, Greece, Serbia, and the USA. Ban Ki-moon and Irina Bokova have been nominated for their unique concept of humanity and for preserving peace on our planet, promoting philosophy and civil education worldwide, and fostering global citizenship.
In 2019, the World Philosophical Forum (WPF) appealed to Greek Members of the European Parliament, Members of all Member States, and candidates of all political parties, asking for their full support, as well as the support of the UN, WHO, EU, and the Council of Europe, to help stop the growth of social dementia by immediately reviving classical Greek philosophy in lieu of predominant scholasticism and fostering global citizenship in support of solidarity. In 2018, the WPF was honored with a laurel leaf by the Greek authorities in the person of the Minister of Tourism, who is now a member of the European Parliament. Nicolas Hagger, a prominent British scholar who received the Gusi Award, was congratulated by Ban Ki-moon. In 2019, he undertook a diplomatic and cultural peace initiative in Moscow together with Igor Kondrashin. This initiative, together with later events in Athens with Viktor and Sergey Kharkov, now sets the stage for the 14th Dialectical Symposium.
An excerpt from my 2019 acceptance speech for the Gusi follows:
As thinking beings, we have to wonder which system will collapse next: another part of the environment as a result of climate change, health from a global pandemic, a button pressed initiating a nuclear conflagration, the collapse of an economic or banking network, a time when artificial intelligence might take over, or some other unexpected disaster for which we are ill-prepared. At that moment in time, 120 symbolic seconds to midnight, a time when the unexpected should be awaited, when uncertainty, mindlessness, and a distortion of reality characterize our current moment in history, the work of the Gusi Foundation becomes even more significant to world peace.
To cease upon midnight with no pain is the poet’s understanding of that dramatic moment, but midnight is also the awful moment when a button can be pressed, a key turned, a lever moved, and weapons of mass destruction can be released from the large stockpile. A few moments later, other buttons will be pressed. As midnight approaches, World War III and a man-made holocaust come closer and will be over in 60 minutes. One hour later, culture dies, languages fall silent, books are no longer read, and radio and television fail to broadcast. Museums, music halls, law courts, churches of all denominations, parliamentary houses, and libraries lie in rubble. The chimes of Big Ben will not make it to their 12th chime. No baby cries, no cherry ripens, and there is no further need for any olive branch.
At that apocalyptic moment, millions of years of evolution will unravel, and the complexity necessary to sustain human consciousness will disintegrate. Turning the ticking clock back can only occur by ridding the world of nuclear weapons, by politics recognizing the true dimensions of climate change in a world of reduced poverty and inequality, curbing racism, enhancing civic education, and being tempered by the wisdom and morality embedded in Greek classical philosophy.
In subscribing to the words of St. Paul, although we are hard-pressed on every side, we are not crushed; perplexed, but not in a state of despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Despair was never better expressed than by Aeschylus: pain so intense, not forgotten, even in sleep, falling from the heart, drop by drop, until, in our despair, against our will, wisdom comes through the terrible grace of God. The wisdom in Aeschylus is philosophy, which provides a roadmap to peace.
Our highest-level goal is to preserve our humanity by reinforcing human rights and exerting our civic responsibility as global citizens and through policies that provide for our children and our children’s children the means to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives as citizens of a less hostile earth within the framework of the golden mean. Should that awful moment come, any survivors will be homeless, hungry, in darkness, cold, and contaminated.
Surely, translating the culture of peace into concrete actions has to be much better than globally assured destruction. In the shadow of a nuclear nightmare, doing nothing is not an option—not for the government, not for the international community, not for high-profile citizens and politicians, and certainly not for the Gusi Foundation and its President, Barry Gusi.
In ancient Greece, the laurel wreath, which refers back to mythology, was awarded to victors as a sign of honor in both athletic competitions and poetic events. Apollo is often represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. While at the UN, Ban Ki-moon made many important contributions, but I am sure posterity will remember him for his failed efforts to promote philosophy within the international community and universal civic education first of all! Meanwhile, Irina Bokova approved the UNESCO Strategy on Philosophy. At the same time, World Philosophy Day was established, and the slogan "There is no UNESCO without philosophy!" was proclaimed for the first time. In early February 2023, I had the privilege to visit a UNESCO heritage site inaugurated by Bokova in Malaysia.