Two years ago I interviewed a man that I consider one of the greatest pioneers for peace and happiness. Monday, October 24, 2005 is United Nations Day and the UN will be 60 years old. The person I spoke with is Dr. Robert Muller who was a former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. Dr. Muller's distinguished career at the United Nations has spanned nearly 40 years. During his tenure with the world body, he contributed significantly to the creation of a number of its specialized agencies. He is considered the "father of global education."
I spoke to Dr. Muller and his wonderful wife Barbara while they were staying in California. They were getting ready to leave for a trip to Tokyo, Japan for the Goi Peace Award. Dr. Robert Muller was presented with the Goi Peace Award on October 19, 2003 and delivered a speech at the banquet. The Goi Peace Award is presented annually to honor individuals and organizations in various fields that have made outstanding contributions toward the realization of a peaceful and harmonious world for all life on earth.
I first came to know about Dr. Muller when I read his book, Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness, many years ago. I consider this book among the ten best books I have ever read. It was then that I knew that I was reading about a man that understood happiness better than anyone else in our time. I learned that at a young age he experienced the horrors of World War II, because the Nazis imprisoned him. This was the case even though he was born in Belgium and was a Catholic. At the end of the war, Dr. Muller decided to devote his life to peace. He equipped himself with a doctorate degree in law from the University of Strasbourg. In 1947, Dr. Muller won a contest initiated by the United Nations with an essay on world government. He was invited to join the UN as an intern in 1948.
Dr. Muller devoted the next 38 years of his life at the United Nations, until his retirement in 1986. He rose through the ranks at the UN to the position of Assistant Secretary-General. He worked directly with three secretaries-generals, U Thant, Kurt Waldheim and Javier Perez de Cuellar, as director of the secretary general's office, as secretary of the Economic and Social Council and as deputy under-secretary-general for coordination and interagency affairs in the secretary-general's office. In this capacity he helped coordinate the work of the thirty-two UN specialized agencies and world programs. He delivered on average 180 speeches a year. In those speeches, he would often mention the miracle of how humans at long last were self-consciously organizing themselves to solve the planet's problems. He was also in charge of launching several world conferences. Appointed Assistant Secretary-General by Perez de Cuellar, he worked at the UN until 1986.
In 1986, Dr. Muller retired to Costa Rica, there he serves as a one-dollar-a-year Chancellor Emeritus of the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica, a university that he helped create. Working from his hillside writer's cabin just above the University, he rises at dawn, watches the sunrise and writes for two hours every morning in order to conclude his lifework. He is in great demand as an international speaker and concentrates his efforts on promoting greater human understanding and global awareness.
Dr. Muller is the author of twenty-two books, which have been published in several languages. He received the UNESCO Peace Education Prize in 1989, the Albert Schweitzer International Prize for the Humanities in 1993 and the Eleanor Roosevelt Man of Vision Award in 1994. He was the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation World Citizen honoree for 2002. Since 1984, this Foundation has honored some of the great peace leaders of our time, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The XIVth Dalai Lama, Jacques Cousteau, and King Hussein of Jordan. In recognition of his work, Dr. Muller has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize thirty-two times.
Robert Muller is the man behind Ted Turner's billion-dollar donation to the United Nations and thousands of other acts of conscience. Ted Turner said, "Robert Muller has had a very large positive influence on me. He has a wonderful global outlook and a loving, kind-hearted attitude of forgiveness and understanding and patience. I have great admiration and respect for him. He's one of the greatest men to come along in a long time."
Robert Muller is considered the "father of global education," and his World Core Curriculum is used in an increasing number of schools around the world and serves as the educational structure of the 43 Robert Muller Schools. The first Robert Muller School was started in Arlington, Texas, USA, in 1979, to implement Robert Muller's World Core Curriculum and make the results available to educators around the world. This school is now the International Coordinating Center for the Robert Muller Schools and other groups around the world implementing the World Core Curriculum. Dr. Muller said to me that the children learn "you are a miracle." They go home and tell their parents; "I learned that I am a miracle." He said, "One miracle does not hurt another miracle. That's why they do not fight with one another."
I asked Dr. Muller about his religious outlook and he said all religions must realize the spiritual answers to life and not get stuck on being right. Dr. Muller is 82 years old, and he possesses the youngest and happiest mind I have ever had the privilege to know. He loves nature, and he is chock-full of gratitude. His says, "Life is an incredible miracle. We really need to be conditioned to happiness. We must become joyful."
Dr. Muller wrote this poem, "Decide to be happy. Render others happy. Proclaim your joy. Love passionately your miraculous life. Do not listen to promises. Do not wait for a better world. Be grateful for every moment of life. Switch on and keep on the positive buttons in yourself; those marked optimism, serenity, confidence, positive thinking, love. Pray and thank God every day. Meditate - Smile - Laugh - Whistle - Sing - Dance. Look with fascination at everything. Fill your lungs and heart with liberty. Be yourself fully and immensely. Act like a king or queen unto Death. Feel God in you body, mind, heart, and soul. And be convinced of eternal life and resurrection."
What Gandhi was to nonviolence, Dr. Muller is to happiness and peace. Dr. Muller is a hero and role model for me and the world. He has taught us that happiness can make the world a better place to live. He said, "Decide To Be Happy." He is still reaping the benefits of that decision and so are we.
His website is www.robertmuller.org.
Dr. Robert Muller
More on the Mullers Happiness: a lesson and a way of life
by Margo Kline
Goleta Valley Voice