The Words of the Yong Family
Colombo, Sri Lanka -- William Shakespeare would have been delighted. Passages from his famous tragic romance, Romeo and Juliet, were recited at UPF-Sri Lanka's seminar on marriage and family that addressed the importance of these institutions in modern society. The program was held in the capital, Colombo, on November 1.
The seminar, entitled "The Significance of Marriage and Family for Lasting Peace and Sustainable Development," began with prayers from all the major religious traditions. Then quoting Shakespeare from memory, Prof. Carlo Fonseka, a well-respected medical professor educated in England, delighted the audience:
If that thy bent of love be honorable,
Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow…
But if thou mean'st not well,
I do beseech thee --
To cease thy suit and leave me to my grief.
Interpreting the sonnet in today's language Prof. Fonseka said it would go something like this, "If you love me, marry me. Otherwise get lost." Soft giggles were heard among the nearly 100 participants. Nonetheless, this set the stage for an enriching UPF-Sri Lanka program that linked the importance of marriage and family to the quest for enduring peace and long-term social development.
In his keynote speech, Dr. Chung Sik Yong from Korea affirmed UPF's policy by saying, "Let me state from the outset, as clearly and strongly as possible: UPF founder Father Sun Myung Moon teaches that neither lasting peace nor sustainable development can come without strong families and loving marriages."
Dr. Yong, who is the Regional Chairman for UPF-Asia, went on to explain that the ethical and moral values learned in the family are the most basic principles of life because they define our fundamental human relationships. These relationships are then expanded upon in social setting and include the vertical relationship between grandparents, parents, and children; the horizontal relationship of husband and wife; and the front-back relations of elder and younger siblings.
Congressman Ek Nath Dhakal from Nepal addressed the audience explaining the role UPF has played (and continues to play) in the ongoing peace process in his country. The Nepal chapter was established six years ago, at the same time the Maoists agreed to surrender arms and enter mainstream politics. Since then, UPF-Nepal has been the most active NGO supporting Nepal's trek to peace in a variety of ways, which consist of educational and issue-based programs, outreach to the media, publications, and youth initiatives. Cong. Dhakal is also the President of UPF-Nepal.
Then Dr. Robert S. Kittel, Education Director for UPF-Asia, explained the two basic principles of Father Moon's teachings and how they can be applied to solve fundamental global problems. Focusing on "public-mindedness," Dr. Kittel pointed out that we find our greatest value and happiness by living more for others than for ourselves. And in setting the public priorities above self-interest, we promote good character.
When this principle of living for others is applied in the relationship of marriage, then the husband lives more for his wife than for himself, and the wife lives more for her husband than for herself. The end result is magical; it is called love. It allows the family to develop, and it lasts forever. This principle applies in societies, nations, and the world as well.
The conference was honored to have dignitaries from many sectors of Sri Lankan society attending the half-day program, including Minister Gamini Lokuge, Minister of Labor and Productivity Improvement; former Speaker of Parliament, Hon. M. H. Mohammad; parliamentarian Hon. Ranjith Madduma Bandara; along with religious leaders from the major faith traditions, academicians, and educators.
At the conclusion of the program, just before lunch, Ambassador for Peace certificates were awarded to:
Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Disaster Management
Hon. Gayantha Karunathilake, Member of Parliament
Mr. Lalith Piyum Perera, Chairman / Director General, National Youth Services Council
Mr. Tissa Liyanasuriya, internationally renowned film director
Mr. J. K. Liyanasuriya, Supreme Court lawyer
That evening and the follow day, delegates from UPF international (Dr. Yong, Hon. Dhakal, and Dr. Kittel) along with UPF-Sri Lanka Secretary General, Dr. Chula Senaratne, made courtesy calls on a number of Sri Lankan dignitaries, including H.E. D. M. Jayaratne, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka; Minister Johnston Fernando, Minister of Cooperatives and Internal Trade; Minister Dullas Allahapperuma, Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development; Hon. Ranjith Bandara, MP; Hon. H.M.M. Harees, MP; Hon. Sri Ranga Jeyaratnam MP; and Dr. Athambawa Jahfer.
The quartet also held a small program with 30 youth consisting of participants in Religious Youth Service programs and the Inter-religious Peace Sports Festival hosted by Mr. R. A. Kularatne, former Director of Education, and Ms. Dinesha Liyanasuriya, Secretary General of Religious Youth Service-Sri Lanka.