The Words of the Schanker Family
May 20, 2002
I totally agree that the full truth of this situation is not appropriate for discussion on a public list such as this. It is also correct that none of the projects in Brazil, or the organizations responsible, maintain any PR office in NY. The Brazilian government's questions arose after Tiempos del Mundo published the founder's address to the UN in August, 2000, which in attempting to present a practical example of how lands could be offered as peace zones, caused concerns regarding violations of sovereignty. I was sent to the Brazilian ambassador by Dr. Yang, at the request of elders responsible for the project.
While my meeting was successful in conveying Father's ideals and allaying the particular concerns over giving away Mercosur lands to other governments, the ambassador raised a number of other issues that the government was concerned about, including foreign ownership, integrity of the borders, and the long-term purpose(s) of the property. When I reported these concerns back to the elder who had sent me, he asked me to take up the idea of how to respond with another elder, who opposed the idea completely. He mentioned a number of reasons why the government had no right to ask such info and interfere, etc. He told me to leave it alone, and cited a paid legal advisor who advised us similarly, and that individual told me personally that the government in question was going beyond its authority, and that it was diplomatically unwise for us to allow them to treat us like criminals and order us around. We were legal landowners with rights, etc, etc.
After two letters from the ambassador, and two responses from me, and after failing to convince those responsible to answer the ambassador's questions, I informed the original responsible elder that I was going to prepare a report in any case, since the government of Brazil was expecting it. I contacted the Brazilian leaders of the project, as well as the Pantanal project leadership, prepared the report, sent it to a number of responsible individuals for vetting, and delivered it to the embassy after 5 months, rather than 3 weeks.
I made a number of mistakes: I should not have promised what I did not have the authority to deliver. I should not have placed myself in a position of any importance to the ambassador, nor allowed myself to be in the position of a go-between, with the appearance of authority but none actually given. But in front of the ambassador, I could hardly refuse his request, plus it seemed to me to be a no-brainer, something we certainly should respond to. I also could certainly have pushed harder, and sooner.
But the circulating misperception that the FFWPU or its PR department somehow caused this problem or irresponsibly procrastinated in making the report is ridiculous, especially since this false accusation originated from the very person who had blocked the report in the first place. FFWPU- USA was never in the position of knowing the projects, or having authority to report about them. This rumor was borne of the disgusting butt-covering and scape-goating that typically takes place when the crap hits the fan.
Simply speaking, once the Brazilian government suggested that they might deny our founder's visa due to our non-response, suddenly everybody (actually, ONE body in particular) was interested in the report, acting like they had been for it all along, pointing fingers of blame. I have witnessed such behavior, including false reports to the very top, from this same person toward others, and a few times to me as well. I have no respect for such spineless, self-serving crap, and believe that God and True Parents would be far-better served if we would simply pony-up, taking responsibility and focusing on solutions rather than shifting blame to protect ourselves. Far from being intimidated by any authority from such persons, religious or institutional, I pity the lack of spiritual depth, for I know that in front of the God of the Principle, whom True Parents led me to, such false things will eventually crumble. What angers and saddens me, though, is the number of people who have been disheartened, disillusioned, and spiritually crushed by the scape-goating process. And to think that such people now pretend to be the savior of the situation, coming in to clean up the mess of others.
While this fiasco certainly did not inspire trust and confidence in the Brazilian government, the current crisis seems to revolve more around specific actions, or perceived actions, taken by or around the project in Brazil itself, and involving a disgruntled Korean former employee or member who made accusations which, considering their source, may or may not be credible. Interestingly, there seems to be a similar pattern of Brazilian PR and legal department members advising what should be done, that advice apparently not being taken, and the ultimate ritual of assigning blame when the crap hits the fan.
I struggled long and hard over whether and how to write this. I did not do so to impress anyone, and am not presenting myself as a person of any special integrity. But God save me from such position conscious, self-serving betrayals of others! I would welcome any private communication, criticism or insight concerning my actions in this from beginning to end. There is much to learn concerning disorganization, avoiding responsibility, unclear delegation of authority, etc. I will share the ugly details only privately, and only with those I know and trust.
With gratitude for your indulgence ... love and prayer
Phillip D. Schanker
PS- though characterization of "our so-called PR department" seems a bit harsh, it is, in fact, far from doing the job it should. We are absorbed with event promotions and video productions. Despite occasional victories and successes, we have been unable to consistently pursue positive long-term media relations, a coordinated and well-developed message, a respected and unique voice in social issues, etc. We have much to learn & a long way to go.
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