Don Robert Muller

Written by Chris Fontana

In July, 1992, I finished Love, Medicine and Miracles by best selling author and Oncologist, Bernie Siegel, M.D. It made a profound impact on me. A week later, my brother, Joe Fontana and I boarded a plane in Miami headed for Costa Rica. To my left, an older man with a strong German accent engaged us in five hours of riveting conversation and stories.

He told us of Arkansas Quakers in 1949 who fled the U.S. following six months in jail after refusing to enter the draft for the Korean War. Some 60 family members made it to Costa Rica, [which had just been demilitarized by José Figueres] following six months of driving; in an effort to protect their watershed, they inevitably created one of the largest and most important and largest private biological reserves in the world [Monteverde].

On and on he enchanted us with stories, each more inspiring than the last, until he pulled out a list of books he had written—one of which I recognized from the supplemental reading list from Love, Medicine and Miracles. It was titled: Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness.

“I just read Bernie Siegel’s book and remember your book! I said incredulously.

“Ah, Bernie Siegel and I are good friends”, the man in the window seat said, “long ago, he came to hear me speak about a story I tell about a Frenchman in the French resistance in World War II.

“I just read that story in Bernie Siegel’s book!” So I told my brother, Joe that story:

A Frenchman, Louis Parizot, was tipped off that the Gestapo was coming for him. He quickly climbed the four stories of the building he was in and realized it was too high to jump. He was trapped; he contemplated his imminent death. He relaxed his mind and suddenly, in this meditative state, an idea occurred to him. He wet his hair with water from a vase, removed his glasses and smoked a cigarette. The Gestapo had strip searched the three floors below him when he calmly walked down the stairs to greet the Gestapo.

His secretary, realizing what he was up to, remarked,  “These men are looking for Louis Parizot—have you seen him?”

He responded: “I was just speaking to him a moment ago upstairs.”

The 12 Gestapo agents ran up the stairs as he walked down the four stories escaping unharmed.

“That was me, I am Louis Parizot” said the man sitting next to me on the plane. “After World War, I entered an essay contest for newly created organization called ‘United Nations’ and won. After 38 years there, I retired as the Under-Secretary General so that I could found the University for Peace—the first University for Peace on the Planet!”

My brother, Joe, and I, flabbergasted, accepted his invitation to visit the University for Peace and it began a special friendship. Robert’s friendship changed our lives forever.  From this “fated” plane ride, many stories worthy of telling, begin—for one–the story of Global Visionaries.

Robert – your work has touched the lives of millions. I am deeply grateful for your presence in our lives and for your vision. Most of all, thank you for your eternal optimism.

The following are Excerpts from Dennis J. Kucinich, (D) Ohio, who entered these thoughts into the Congressional Record September 2010; Vol. 156

Madam Speaker, I rise today in honor and remembrance of Dr. Robert Muller, a lifelong champion for peace who served humanity tirelessly throughout his life.

Born in Belgium in 1923, Dr. Muller was raised in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France where he experienced unrelenting political and cultural turmoil. During World War II he was a member of the French Resistance and was imprisoned by the Germans during the Nazi occupation. In 1948, he won an essay contest with his entry about how to govern the world. The prize was an internship at the newly created United Nations.

The internship set him on a life path that led to 38 years of work behind the scenes at the United Nations where he rose to the official position of Assistant-Secretary General, serving three Secretaries General.

In 1986, Rodrigo Carazo, the President of Costa Rica, proposed that Dr. Muller become the chancellor of the UN University of Peace in Costa Rica of which he was the co-founder.

His deeply spiritual understanding of our planet and the life that graces it led him to create a “World Core Curriculum” which is taught at 34 Robert Muller Schools around the world. The Curriculum earned him the UNESCO Peace Education Prize in 1989 and the honorary title of “father of global education.” He also received the Albert Schweitzer International Prize for the Humanities and the Eleanor Roosevelt Man of Vision Award.

He was a prolific writer, having published fourteen books in various languages, including “2000 Ideas and Dreams for a Better World”, in which he proposed concrete, visionary ideas designed to create a peaceful and harmonious planet.

Madam Speaker and Colleagues, please join me in honor and remembrance of Dr. Robert Muller, who will be deeply missed. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his entire family and to his many friends. Dr. Muller’s life is one to celebrate, as he lived it with a generous heart, a true joy for living and unwavering love for is family, friends, colleagues and our beautiful planet.

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2 thoughts on “Don Robert Muller”

  1. Chris–
    Thank you for sharing this sad news. Your “fated” meeting with Mr. Muller has certainly left its own special reverberations on the world.
    I will not soon forget his meeting with the GV group I was priveleged to be a part of back in’02, and his impromptu harmonica-playing. Especially memorable is his expectation that the students at the U. for Peace simply return home to become the next leaders of their respective countries. That, and his eternal optimism in the process–if not the immediate reality–of international communication and understanding.

  2. This is an amazing story.

    There is an old German saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” You had already embarking on your journey when you met Louis. It sounds like he gave you some much-needed enthusiasm for your passion. I think most anyone would give a lot to have a conversation with such a wise person.

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