UTS Founder Reverend Sun Myung Moon set new heights for graduation challenges on Sunday, June 29th by exhorting the 48 members of the UTS class of 1997 to become "true parents, true teachers and true leaders." In his Founder's Address, which was read in his absence by Continental Director, Reverend Joong Hyun Park, Reverend Moon said "There are many parents, teachers and leaders in this world but the question is who among them are true parents, true teachers and true leaders? In my opinion, they are those who can not only teach how to become children of filial piety in the family, loyal citizens in the nation, saints in the world and holy sons and daughters in front of God, but also exemplify this way of filial piety, loyalty, sainthood and holy sonship and daughtership within themselves as parents, teachers and leaders."
Many of those sentiments were echoed by guest speaker Dr. Kevin Ryan who included, among a series of aphorisms, words of the Founder which he had encountered on a walk around the property. "If you want to be recognized by God,' read Dr. Ryan, "you must live for the sake of God and for the sake of humanity." "If you don't recognize that one," he told the graduates, "you should give back your diplomas!"
Dr. Ryan will have understood better than most the notion of the "True Teacher" described by Reverend Moon. He is the founder of the Center for Advancement of Ethics and Character at Boston University and in 1990 he was cited by the Association of Teacher Educators as one of America's outstanding educators. In his address, titled "The Moral Crisis in Contemporary Education," he lamented the fact that teachers have lost their sense of moral authority and have instead become mere "information dispensers" or "knowledge jockeys." He traced this regression to the late 1960s when "an array of shattering intellectual conflicts" involving race, sex, drugs and the Vietnam War created a division and a loss of trust between young and old. It was during the confusion of those years, he said, that teachers began to privatize their morality and "lost the sense that they had something to tell the young."
The consequence of this loss of confidence and moral consensus, said Dr. Ryan, is that now our government, parents and schools are recognizing that we are raising a generation which receives little moral guidance. He described this time as a crucial moment in which there is a hope of recapturing the founding spirit of the American school system. That system, he said, was established "not to make people better burghers or shopkeepers but to make them able to handle the demands of democracy; to sit in judgment of one another, to make good laws and elect good people."
This crucial moment is, however, in Dr. Ryan's opinion, endangered by the way in which this new effort is being interpreted. He described three approaches to the current lack of moral guidance "the three Vs: Values, Views and Virtues." The "Values" approach, he said, does not represent something of great moral purpose but is aimed at helping the young to clarify what they believe and want. The adult community stands back in order to let the young discover on their own. Dr. Ryan characterized this approach as "optimistic, dangerous and very ineffective." The "Views" approach, he said, involves passing on to the young correct views or ways to think about such topics as their gender or the distribution of goods. Again, said Dr. Ryan, "this is a far cry from true moral guidance."
Dr. Ryan expressed hope that the third approach, the "Virtue" approach, will prevail. This is the realm of moral excellence and "character education" which helps individuals to acquire virtues such as respect and love and to take on for life the development of their own character. The word "character," he said, comes from the Greek word for an engraving tool and he urged the graduates, as future teachers, to think in terms of engraving and making an indelible impression on people's souls. In this context, he praised the work of the International Education Foundation and Toiiy Devine, a current UTS student.
President Shimmyo's congratulatory remarks to the graduates focused on "The Most Powerful Weapon" which he said does not mean money, knowledge or power but instead means to "do things exactly the same way God does." He said that "since the foundation of the universe, God has always been working hard. Even the fall of Adam and Eve couldn't interrupt God s commitment to hard-working .... In human history," he continued "no one ever worked hard the same way God has done. That is the reason why God's providence of salvation has been prolonged until today." He therefore urged the graduates to "dash into the realm of full responsibility to do things the same way God has been doing."
In the graduate response, Jesus Navarro spoke of the way in which America is viewed in his native country of Venezuela. "We see America like the Kingdom of Heaven, the paradise where you can fulfill all your dreams," he said. When he actually arrived in this country, however, he found immorality and hatred and it was not until he encountered the Unification Movement and came to UTS that he could feel any hope. "To resolve the problems of America," he said, "is not an easy task. It takes a life of service and sacrifice. That's why we come here, to experience multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious, family-like relationships. ...We are trained to become peacemakers. Peacemakers know that lasting and substantial peace comes only after true reconciliation from the bottom of the heart as in the family setting not with treaties or agreements of peace that hold back urges for revenge ... Today is a day of hope, the 21st commencement. This is a new beginning for all of us, a spiritual awakening for the ' world lies in our hands. Let us become true brothers and sisters and parents. Let us build the American dream of loving and peaceful families. Let us work hard to save America."
When "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "O Sole Mio," and "Nzila Zulu" are listed together on a program, you know it's either a Unificationist celebration or a Pole Simon concert! An eclectic gathering of gifted performers (the UTS Band, pianist Dr. Richard Arthur, soprano soloist Mrs. Moon Sook Choi Yoon and the UTS Africa choral group) made for a very entertaining graduation banquet with loud demands for encore performances. Once again, the drumbeats and bright spirit of the African brothers and sisters brought a roar of approval from the audience.
Dr. Kathy Winings drew on her personal experiences as a UTS graduate in offering the Faculty Greeting. While working with the International Relief Friendship Foundation, she has been exposed to the suffering of people in Haiti, in North Korea and in North Dakota following the recent floods. It is easy, she said, to become discouraged in the face of so much need and so much heartache but she told the graduates that "because of my training and experience here at UTS of experiencing and feeling the living God, I've been able to maintain a vision so that I can give these people more than just physical goods."
Dr. Winings assured the graduates of the world's need for their services. "Our society needs your wisdom, your pastoral counseling skills, your ability to teach religiously, your newfound acumen for interfaith and ecumenical dialog and it needs your very presence ... God bless you and thank you."
Several of those attending the event expressed their appreciation for an inspiring and enjoyable day. Reverend Joong Hyun Park commented on the spirit of the students and graduates and told President Shimmyo that "perhaps I should encourage more of our members to come to UTS."