We the People hereby declare our interdependence — our connection to the Source of All Life and to all life forms. We affirm that diverse individuals, groups, and networks are necessary for the creative development of humanity; and that to strengthen UNITY AND DIVERSITY throughout the universe is our individual responsibility and privilege.
–From UDWC’s Declaration of Interdependence
The General Assembly of the United Nations designated 1965 as International Cooperation Year. It was celebrated throughout the world among nongovernmental organizations as a special time of working together toward common ends. It was during ICY 1965 that what is now the Unity and Diversity World Council was born. Its original name was the International Cooperation Council, which remained until 1979. At that time a major reorganization took place, and the new name was established. It appears that our Council is the only organization that formed out of that unique occasion and has continued to this time.
What we discovered during International Cooperation Year and beyond is that there is a need for a people’s equivalent to the United Nations coming from the grassroots. The United Nations does work with non-governmental organizations (traditionally called NGOs), but these organizations have an agenda largely developed by the U.N. and under its watchful eye. What we have concluded is that, since democracy comes from the people rather than being established through governments, a parallel development needs to come from the people.
The Unity and Diversity World Council has over the years developed a largely parallel structure to the U.N. as it can be applied to individuals, groups, and networks. For example, we have a Culture of Peace Series that meets monthly and which is the only body in UDWC that is designed to deal with all of the concerns that people have in attempting to live and to solve their individual and collective problems. The UDWC also has Specialized Affiliates, parallel to the Specialized Agencies of the U.N.
What it also has, which the U.N. does not officially have, and which is essential to the UDWC’s work, is involved in cultivating ethical and spiritual principles. Hence, the need for a Unity and Diversity World Fellowship and a World Interfaith Network, both of which are Specialized Affiliates of the UDWC.
The World Interfaith Network holds monthly interfaith celebrations, which with the two such affiliates we now have meet at the different faith centers in their area on Sunday afternoons. By meeting on Sunday afternoons these gatherings can reach faith leaders, as well as congregations, who are occupied on Sunday mornings.
The Unity and Diversity World Fellowship trains Unity and Diversity ministers and holds unity and diversity type services on Sunday mornings. The Fellowship seeks to provide the kinds of programs that will serve as a center in each community where people of all faiths and no official faith can meet and develop areas of common ground.
A Unity and Diversity Peace Wheel has been designed to show where different individuals, groups, and networks are focusing so that in the World Directory we are once again developing — this time on our website — a model for seeing where these entities are putting their energies.
These cooperative efforts are not just theoretical. They are very practical, so that change really does occur. For example, in the Interfaith Celebration of Light being held each December, we are creating an active network of faith and interfaith groups. Other projects have been carried out or are being planned by UDWC-related bodies.