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King Constantine chairs the Annual Round Square Conference
28 September 2001
Category: Speeches

HM King Constantine chaired the Annual Round Square Conference, which took place in Alice Springs Australia from the 22nd to the 28th of September 2001.

King Constantine is the Founder, Patron and Chairman of Round Square, an international group of 52 schools from the five continents.

In the speech he delivered in front of 400 students and numerous other delegates, King Constantine referred to the events of September 11th and said:

"No one in this room can be left untouched by the horrendous events of the 11th of September. I am sure personally each one of you is trying to make sense of the needless violence and ever-increasing death toll. I know I cannot. Perhaps I never will.

However, if we are to rise above this catastrophe, we must focus on one thing. This was an unprecedented act of terrorism. The circumstances fuelling these terrorist acts were not the quest for political, military or economic power. They were bluntly fed by intolerance and raw hatred.

These acts had nothing to do with defending one's country or one's faith. These acts had nothing to do with religion or "ethnic" background. They had to do with evil versus good. Darkness versus light. Nobody stands to gain anything. We all stand to lose. The future of civilisation as we know it is at stake.
We must therefore make sure not to perpetuate this cycle by continued intolerance and hatred.

I would, however, like to emphasise how important it is for all countries of the world and all governments, not to give shelter to international terrorism. This will be the most vital contribution towards eliminating, once and for all, this fatal disease.

We must think and behave as members of the civilised world, where democratic principles prevail. A world where every human being is valued as the next, where every life counts. A world where each person's nationality, colour, race and religion is acknowledged, and more so, it is respected. The only way we can really achieve this, is by becoming educated in the ways of others.

I would like to recite here from the prayer of St Francis, which my father used in his speech when I became of age.

Lord make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.

This is the true benefit of our Annual Conferences. We come together from many different parts of the world, from different countries, different religions and customs and at the end of our Conference we have gained by understanding better our fellow delegates. We make friendships that can bridge many gaps.

This Conference takes place at a time of dramatic events, radical change and profound fanaticism. We, on the other hand, have gathered in the heart of this tranquil, beautiful country, at the heart of a continent that integrates West and East, tradition and progress, a culture of fusion and liberal thinking. We uphold the values of brotherhood and tolerance, the very values that are now under threat.

Our reward was not only the participation in this unique Round Square Conference, but also the chance to visit this very special part of Australia.

The poet, Dorothea McKellar in her poem 'My Country' describes this land better than any words or phrases I could use:

I love a sun burnt country
A land of sweeping plains
Of rugged mountain ranges
Of drought and flooding plains

I love her far horizon
I love her jewelled sea
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me

One of the primary concerns, as the initial shock of the recent events subsides, is the way in which you, the young generation, will perceive the imminent shifts in world order and democracy, and how you can contribute to the re-grounding of moral values in a shaken and perhaps scared world.

When the famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tse was asked what would he have liked to have seen when he was reincarnated, he answered: I want to see that the words get back their true meaning.

World brotherhood is at stake and the Round Square will, I am confident to say, play its role in healing wounds and in helping to bring about understanding amongst communities of our unique planet.

I believe that vigil and action should be the true hallmarks of a committed citizen. The new generation must join hands and be alert and stamp out the afflictions that plaque the world - poverty, illiteracy, disease, intolerance and immorality, to name a few.

When we look at photographs and videos of what happened in New York and Washington, cruelty and devastation are forever imprinted in our minds.

We must eliminate the inbred hatred. The next generation of children around the world must be brought up and be educated with tolerance and international understanding for their fellow men. Ideas of peaceful coexistence can only flourish if they are sowed at a very young age.

We are unequivocally linked to other nations, other cultures, and other people. Take this opportunity to create bonds out of these links, to reinforce universal ties of brotherhood and to appreciate different cultures, religions and ideologies. Let these events strengthen our faith in consolidation and unity, in altruism and compassion.

With every year that passes and every Annual Round Square Conference I attend, I cannot but reflect that the world our young people of today are destined to inherit becomes more complex and more dangerous.

In one of my previous addresses to an Annual Conference, I have used these very words:

'Just as some vast and apparently immovable obstacle to peace is overcome and the dawning of a new age of hope seems to be at hand, our dreams are shattered by a new, more awful threat and it seems mankind is doomed to live in perpetual twilight and be forever denied its sunshine.'

We can now ask, can we live together in mutual respect and peace?

The answer is YES. Surely now is the time to be done with wars and to fight the real problems that face humanity instead of one another.

As I have said in my short welcoming message,

We would be best listening to the whispering prayers from the people around the world, so they do not become the shouts of anger behind a gun.

Can we mark the coming years by finally defeating the war machine? Can we eliminate terrorism? If so, then indeed the long road to peace will end not in a shattering explosion, but in the ultimate triumph of freedom and human decency"

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