“The very center of your heart is where life begins,
the most beautiful place on earth.”
Rumi Forum was one of the organizers of the International Festival of Language & Culture (IFLC)`s “The Most Beautiful Story” musical on October 21, 2023, on their Washington, DC tour. In front of a sold-out audience at NOVA Community College`s Schlesinger Hall in Alexandria, VA, this meticulously crafted production showcased a harmonious fusion of music and storytelling, with the participation of more than 50 young students from 11 countries.
Rumi Forum`s Chairman, Fethullah Gulen, sent a letter for the occasion, which he finds “very meaningful for the future of humanity,” while regretfully expressing that his health condition did not allow him to participate in this meeting. Following is Gulen`s message to the audience of the IFLC:
In these difficult days for humanity, the IFLC brings together young people from different countries around love and offers a breeze of peace to our weary hearts. As you gather with love and hope, we also witness with sadness that conflicts and wars continue non-stop in different parts of the world. Unfortunately, throughout history, human beings often have resorted to violence and war, fueled by hatred and revenge, to achieve their goals or resolve disputes. Violence resulted in violence, hatred engendered hatred, and humanity was caught in a spiral of violence. In such a vicious circle, people could not approach others with compassion, they could not empathize with them, they could not feel their pain, and they approached the troubles of those they saw as the “other” with indifference.
For humanity to overcome these difficulties and breathe peace, it is essential to raise young people all over the world who have deep consciences and rich hearts, are full of love and respect, and are concerned about the problems of humanity. We all have a responsibility to raise such youth. I see the IFLC as a program organized with this awareness of responsibility, and I welcome it with appreciation. This festival brings together young people living in different parts of the world and plants the seeds of “human fraternity” in their minds and hearts. It opens the way for them to know each other, empathize, and develop mutual love.
It is not right to despair due to the limited time and space and the limited number of young people participating in these events. We may not have the means to undertake large-scale initiatives for world peace, but setting a good example with that intention is very meaningful and valuable, and we do not know how many people it will inspire. I pray to God that your program will be fruitful and lead to many good consequences.
In addition to Mr. Gulen, Sen. Mark Warner (VA), Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA), Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD), and Rep. David Trone (MD) have sent recognition letters with words of support and congratulations to the IFLC. In their messages, Sen. Warner commended the IFLC “for once again bringing neighbors and families together to connect and have their spirits lifted through the arts,” Rep. Connolly stated that “the more we celebrate our world`s diversity, the more uplifted and unified we all become,” Rep. Raskin reminded us to “take a moment to celebrate your major contributions to the advancement of cultural understanding, artistic excellence, and world peace,” and Rep. Trone recognized the “importance of building lasting connections with communities across the world to foster friendship, tolerance, and peace.” As Rumi Forum works towards strengthening a culture of peace, pluralism, and social harmony, we are thankful to have these words of wisdom that encourage and support our work move forward.