The Words of the Burton Family
It was a day of theological reflection, testimonies, war stories, proclamations, calls for action, service awards, tearful embraces, networking, elegant dining, and lots of music and dancing. Women leaders from North and South America were urged to become agents of change and to join a quiet revolution of love that will lead to a "generation of peace" by the Reverend In Jin Moon at a day-long conference, held on Jan 21, 2011, by the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP) in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Rev. Angelika Selle, president of the WFWP USA introduced Rev. Moon by noting that Rev. Moon has many professional accomplishments, including music producer, recording artist, ordained minister, and corporate CEO, but when asked about her proudest accomplishment, she replied: "that I have five beautiful munchkins."
Frequently invoking the insights of the True Parents, Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, Rev. Moon told conferees that opportunities for women to have influence are unprecedented in the current era because of the significant religious work of her parents, whom she credited for fulfilling the ideal of marriage and family that God had intended for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The suffering of humanity in general, and of women in particular, were results of the Fall of Man, she explained, adding that in the current age these consequences can be reversed by learning from the example of the True Parents, who are ushering in a new age of peace.
Rev. Moon said: "The reason I believe that the work of Rev. Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han is so crucial is that they stand in the position of the True Parents of mankind, as the perfected Adam and Eve. Together they strive for encouraging a revolution of heart -- not of might or power -- a revolution of love that can heal, that can raise up a beautiful generation of peace."
"As we look toward the new millennium, starting with ourselves as agents of change, it is high time for the world to experience what the revolution of heart, the revolution of peace, can do for our world," she said, adding: "We as women are in an incredible position of power to influence, starting with ourselves, starting with our society and our nations. I believe women can bring a new kind of leadership, a compassionate leadership."
Opening Remarks were given by Professor Lan Young Moon of Korea, president of the WFWP International, who told the conference: "The 21st Century is said to be the era of women. It is a fact that we have come to feel the limitations of male leadership, which has led history until now, only through its logic of power. Humanity today is in need of women's leadership, which has been described as 'Soft Power,' based on more feminine qualities such as love and service, forgiveness and tolerance, sensitivity and friendliness."
The conference of 500 women leaders, including one current first lady and three former first ladies as well as national lawmakers from countries in the region, also heard from Ms. Doro Bush Koch, daughter of former President George H.W. Bush. Ms. Koch reported her mother's efforts, and her own, to advance the cause of literacy in the United States. Rev. In Jin Moon awarded Ms. Koch the WFWP's "Woman of Distinction Award."
Ms. Koch elaborated on the topic of "Leadership Through Change," giving several examples of decisions made by her Father during his term as President. She noted that leaders sometimes have to initiate changes that are unpopular within their own political parties, citing her father's taking up the cause of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which he proudly signed into law in July 1990. At other times, leading means deciding not to act, noting that after the Berlin Wall fell at the end of 1989, her Father did not make gloating remarks, thus avoiding to provoke the leaders of the Soviet Union during a time of crisis, she explained.
Congresswoman Porras Pilar Zuniga, representing San Jose in the Costa Rican National Assembly, then reported on the struggle of Costa Rican women to get gender equity in the workplace and assistance to victims of domestic violence. She explained: "In order to aid victims of domestic violence, I realized we needed to take a holistic approach. We had to work with men, too." She added: "Three years ago we created an educational program called 'Valuable Men for San Carlos' that has changed men's attitudes." Her public service, she said, was from a heavenly calling. "To tell you the truth, I did not want to become a Congresswoman, but I ran for Congress, because I felt God wanted me to be there. Now I am closer to the people with the funds and the resources the people of San Carlos need."
The unique power of mothers to shape the character of their children was the theme of Amb. Ellen Sauerbrey of Maryland "We celebrate that women leaders in the 21st Century can be doctors, lawyers, business owners and legislators, " she said. "But we should not lose sight o f the fact that the most important role, and the one that only she can fulfill is that of mother and the center of the family. Your greatest power is the influence you have on your children. The family is the cradle of nations, and women rock the cradle," she asserted.
Amb. Sauerbrey, a former Assistant U.S. Secretary of State, also sounded a stern warning to conferees about the efforts of some seeking to destabilize the tradition of the two-parent family. "I would like to give you a challenge as women leaders of the WFWP. There are intense international pressures undermining the family," she said.
"Today there are committees within the United Nations pushing an agenda that counters traditional, moral and social norms regarding the family, marriage, motherhood and religion. Specifically, UN committees that monitor implementation of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child disparage motherhood and advise countries to decrease their emphasis on marriage and the nuclear family."
"Mothers are encouraged to enter the workforce and leave their children in the care of strangers. These committees also advocate policies that will undermine parental authority, increase sexual activity, provide full access to abortion, and normalize out-of-wedlock births," she added.
"I challenge WFWP to become watchdogs. Read these [UN] reports! Join with other pro-family organizations and exercise your influence within the UN to be a strong voice for the traditional family," Amb. Sauerbrey told the gathering.
At the evening banquet, tears flowed during the signature ceremony of WFWP, crossing the "Bridge of Peace." With strains of "Let There Be Peace on Earth," sounding in the background, ten pairs of women, representing reconciliation between North and South America, embraced on a white wooden bridge at center stage. Amb. Sauerbrey exchanged hugs with Her Excellency, Estrella de Carazo, former First Lady of Costa Rica.
"Sonic Cult," the eight-member Lovin' Life Ministry band, got the ladies of all ages and their pals onto the dance floor with original songs by Rev. Moon herself, including "Lovin' Life," and "Heart on Fire." Sonic Cult also performed "Got to Believe," and "So Glad to See You Again," by Ben Lorentzen, "So Beautiful," by Ben Lorentzen and Bill Miho, "Mysterious Ways," by U-2, "Weather With You," by Crowded House, and swing classics like Chuck Berry's "Johnny Be Good," and "If I Can Dream," by Elvis Presley. Elegant waltzing was demonstrated by youth from the Special Task Force Team, and members of Harvard's Competitive Ballroom Dance Team, Mr. Marco Perez, and his partner, Ariana Shin Sun Moon, demonstrated Salsa dancing. The conference ladies were eager to demonstrate their skills.
Several conferees shared their appreciation for the investment of
Rev. In Jin Moon and the WFWP to bring this international conference
to Central America and the high seriousness of the vision presented
by the speakers:
Elizabeth Fallas Gamboa of San José
"I learned today that we have been summoned to make the difference in our own family, and to lead it with high values for a better human life. The family is the foundation of the society, yet in Costa Rica most families are headed by single women. So, that means women have the responsibility to rebuild the family, to teach kids to love each other and to achieve their personal goals at all levels, especially to build families full of love and respect for every one."
"I liked the fact that there were a lot of powerful women,
and all the presentations were good, and they were all speaking to
the topic of leadership":
State Senator Donzella James of Atlanta.
"It was a significant ecumenical gathering of women from many
nations and ethnicities focused on building peace by strengthening
the family as the most basic building block of society,":
Director Maria Gloria Baez, an official of Paraguay's Ministry for Women's Affairs.