Prince of Peace

Malaysia Tatler, July 2008

THE CHAIRMAN of the advisory board of the International Peace Foundation, HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein, has eyes which are archetypal windows into the kindness of his soul. A long list of accomplishments stretching across country borders can be traced back to the spirit within.

HSH received a masters degree in computer science and economics at the University of Vienna. Here, he also read political science, systems theory, cybernetics, biology, philosophy and artificial intelligence.

A man of great influence, His Serene Highness is chairman, CEO and board member to many companies in the areas of engineering, investments, trading, banking, and consulting. He is also tremendously active in several non-profit organisations - as president and co-founder of the Vienna Academy for the Study of the Future; chairman of the Society of Founders of the International Peace University; board member of Search for Common Ground; member of the Honorary Board of the United Nations-Global Youth Forum; member of the International Academy of Science; and fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

Add to this glorious list, marriage to the beautiful and benevolent Princess Raffaella, the publication of three books, and the International Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian ward in 1990 - and one hardly feels able to say more. And yet, much more does need to be said.

HSH travels the globe advocating world peace and international understanding, as if that were simply the thing to do. Recently in Malaysia, he launched the lead-up to the 2nd Asean Bridges programme series, which will run from November 2008 through to April 2009, jointly chaired by HSH Raja Nazrin Shah and former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam.

Prince Alfred's home principality of Liechtenstein is a federation of small- and medium-sized states between Austria and Switzerland. He is cousin to the Prince of Liechtenstein, and well-equipped to deal with the world's issues, having always been interested in the science of complex chaos theory. "It's a new paradigm in science to better understand how systems are holding and adapting - be it economic, political, cultural systems or even an organism as a system on its own."

The peace advocate goes on to explain, hot science can bring about love. "Basically, the context of our foundation approaches how you can change a culture based on heroism and war...we are currently a culture of war and warriors, [al about] who is the stronger and how to fight."

Instead, the Prince suggests, "We look at different modes of interacting, and speak, like the United Nations, mediating a transition from war to peace, love and reverence of life. Many agree with this goal but to implement and evolve from one type of culture to another is not crystal clear," he acknowledges.

As often happens, a return to fundamentals is important - especially those involved in upbringing and nurture. Prince Alfred is from a large family which practises respect for individual choice. "I don't know if you believe in coincidence," states the prince. "My parents named me Alfred which is an old Germanic-Celtic name meaning -the one who will bring peace with the help of the elves' (which are like angels in Germanic-Celtic belief)."

The prince is nothing if not comprehensively) philosophical on his pet subject. "Democracy is system which settles conflicts in a peaceful manner. In all human relationships - between ethnic groups, families, political leaders, countries, even between two people, we have conflicts..."

"And the main issue regarding peace is how to settle these differences of opinions and views in a peaceful manner before the dispute enters into a type of irreparable conflict, leading into some kind of psychological or physical violence." Prince Alfred is working hand in hand with Uwe Morawetz, founder and chairman of the International Peace Foundation, to turn Bridges into an international platform of exchange for students and intellectuals, artists and academics. Its programmes are underpinned by a belief that education can assist in conflict prevention.

"The whole world is coming together as one. Many talk of globalisation, which I am not in favour of if it's mainly the domination of one type of economy or one type of society. However, if we take globalisation as international or cross- cultural interaction considering differences in cultural, religious, faculties and abilities...recognising the dignity of each individual, then I believe it a positive development. After all, like biodiversity, shouldn't we also preserve cultural diversity?" asks the prince.

According to Prince Alfred, the biggest challenge for world peace lies in human nature and giving the heart hardly any say. "Peace is an issue and quality of the heart - and our education or scientific education only educates the intellect or the brain. So you can speak about peace, discuss many issues, learn different ways to settle disputes, go out into the streets and demonstrate for peace, but these are all intellectual and emotional ways to act out our frustrations."

He zeroes in on the crux of the matter. "As long as one has anger in his or her heart, one cannot really come to peace. No doubt it is quite a challenge to find ways in our world to educate the heart... It is every individual's responsibility..." persuades the profound prince.

"In this business-orientated world, humans always want to make a deal... Basically, peace involves trust - trust in a higher being and in ourselves as well as the other party or parties, as well as risk - risk that you may not receive in return." Continues the prince, "...this act is called 'unconditional love'... It sounds simple but we humans don't practise it as we feel we are smarter if we are on the receiving end first or receive more than the giving," shares the wise and mindful humanitarian unconditionally.

"Perhaps if advocating world peace and international understanding is not a priority on our agenda, then maybe changing our hearts to make the world a better place for ourselves [and] our loved ones [can be the priority]." Any which way you look at Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein or his way of looking at the world - you're left with little choice but to trust or believe in a life beyond the ordinary.