The Words of the Swanson Family

On Leadership Conference

Paul Swanson
April 28, 2005

Reflection on International Leadership Convocation - April 10-15, 2005
By Dr. Paul Swanson
Professor Emeritus
The Lutheran School of Theology - Chicago

It was my privilege to have been an invited guest to the convocation sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace entitled "Leadership for Global Transformation" in Washington, D.C., April 10-15, 2005. This brought together some 300 persons from Far Eastern nations, including China, India, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Russia and the United States. The stated purpose of this convocation was to explore the vision, methodology and best practices necessary for a new era of lasting peace.

I would underline three areas of emphasis in this approach: 1) to promote increased understanding, cooperation and peace among the participating nations, 2) to consider ways in which religious governments and nongovernmental organizations can collaborate more effectively in addressing critical global problems, and 3) to identify specific ways in which the IIFWP's emerging peace council could supplement, enhance and improve upon existing approaches to solving these problems. In Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak's opening address to the conference he stated, "If the leaders and peoples of these nations work together in a unified, cooperative and unselfish way, for the sake of peace, truly our world can be transformed." He stated further "We have an ambitious goal. However, it is not an impossible goal." Further he stated, "To establish a universal realm of lasting peace, we need a vision, methodology and practices that are centered on an unselfish purpose." He was thus expressing the mindset of our benefactor, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The methodology of the conference was to bring people together - be it by speaker presentation with respondents, panel discussions with questions from the floor, and especially through conversations and interactions surrounding the session - the breakfast and dinner table, the coffee periods between the session and even the observational trip around Washington and the visit to the Washington Times Foundation and the conversation with a roommate.

Mr. Jack Corley opened the presentations on the first full day of the conference with a presentation on "The significance of God, human responsibility, and spiritual reality." A major emphasis was expressed in The Divine Principle that at the center of the heart of God is "true love." This was the central motive behind creation. It is also deeply implanted within the heart of man that he shall ultimately find peace when he, in turn, reaches for the author of that love and responds through living sacrificially for the sake of others. Thus, "true family" becomes the expression of the Kingdom of God upon this earth. Thus there becomes the triangular relationship of an "I" with a Thou (not an "it) in the presence of an "eternal thou."

The second session was a splendid and clear presentation by the Rev. Phillip Schanker on "The Root Causes of Human Conflict." He appealed to the listeners to go to the root causes, as opposed to the "superficial approaches with their supposed easy solutions." He spoke through the perspectives of poverty, ignorance, and pollution as chief causes which characterize our human existence. He emphasized that the universe is created and based upon order, law, and principles as such lead to universal values.

William Lay followed the foregoing presentation with a consideration of "Principles of peace, reconciliation and restoration." He called us to regard ourselves as "a central person," who seeks to set up a condition now or in the future in which things can happen, ever with the awareness of spiritual power. In correlation with biblical terminology, "This is how we are to regard ourselves." As opposed to seeing the duality of "friend" and "enemy," it should be our stance to see "the other" as potential friend and not as enemy, be it from an attitudinal posture of unselfishness and forgiveness. The dynamic beneath reconciliation is a "going beyond self in seeking accord and peace."

Dr. Kwak took center stage once again on Monday afternoon and reviewed "the significance of marriage" as basic to "world peace." He began with the basic point that "God as Heavenly Father is the invisible true parent." That is the vertical source of revelation. However, for us there are also the horizontal sources in a father and a mother as modular for us. As the Rev. Moon seeks to present himself as a true example, so we must ever grow in the realization of our stewardship in relation to God's children put in our midst. The family is the center for spiritual education and relationship. It is supplemented by the church and the school. It is our primary experiential resource of true love. As such, a person grows through the stages of learning from a mother and a father, later a sister and a brother, and still wife or a husband, and still later through the reflective love of a son and a daughter, and not to leave out the third generation in the grandparents. Each is thus to be in service to "the other." And, then as "each other" demonstrates the forgiveness and reconciliation within the family bonds, the child in that family learns he/she may be forgiven and thus learn to forgive the other even as emphasized in "the Lord's Prayer." These were the implications for me as I listened to the Rev. Kwak.

A person who, in addition to Rev. Kwak, has learned something of the fullness of the hearts and minds of the Rev. and Mrs. Moon, is the Rev. Michael Jenkins. This was made clear to us through his presentation on "A New Vision of Peace: The thought and achievement of Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon." I did not take notes of this presentation. I just listened to the meaningful presentation and intercorrelation of the thoughts and approaches of the Rev. Moon's spiritual and humanitarian philosophy. It has involved an approach of prayer and perseverance, including pain and suffering, as sacrificial living for the sake of others.

Following the presentation of Rev. Michael Jenkins on "the how" of the Rev. Moon, that is to say, his methodological initiative, the convocation turned to a consideration of the initiatives of the organization and of various groups as relates to specific areas of concern. However, I would instead turn to a "how" of the convocation in terms of the interaction of those present who also served as "active participants."

For the sake of brevity and also confidentiality, I will just list unnamed examples of persons who freely shared of their experiences and insights with me:

1. A woman from Iraq, who suffered biological aerial bombing from Saddam Hussein (and who also shared her insights with our president)

2. A man who served for many years under several Russian premiers in their Duma

3. A professor from the World Peace Centre of Maeer's MIT in India.

4. A woman community leader in the social outreach foundation in India, also very active in women's rights in spite of religious restrictions

5. A man who was formerly a part of the national Diet of Japan

A special word of gratitude goes to the national level working group from the United States for their clarifying a number of issues including the overall approach of the IIFWP and its needs.

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