The Words of In Jin Moon from 2009
The following is a transcription of Rev. In Jin Moon’s Commencement Address at the UTS 33rd Annual Commencement in Barrytown, NY on May 23rd 2009.
First of all, I extend my deepest congratulations to the Class of 2009. I’m delighted to be here with all of you on this important day, when we could gather together to celebrate the 33rd commencement ceremony at the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS). This seminary has held a very precious place in my parents’ hearts for a very long time. Many of the classmates here have experienced being on Father’s trail, which my father discovered some years ago. He spent many wonderful summers fishing for carp with the students here at UTS.
I remember my father giving many profound and moving speeches under the shade of the great trees outside. And my father always dreamt that one day the seminary could be the birthplace of great men and women who inherit the true love and spirit of God, becoming that paradigm of love that my parents have so urgently asked all of their children to be and sharing with the world the beauty of this message..
So here I find myself standing in front of the Class of 2009, and my mind keeps rushing back to the years when I was just a little girl, riding on ponies and horses outside and perhaps being a disturbance to the professors and students. My memory of UTS has always been one of beauty and one of wonderment. I’ve often also walked down my father’s trail and thought in wonder about how blessed this country is and how incredibly privileged all of us are to be living at this time when we are walking and breathing together with the True Parents of humankind.
I find it a great blessing to think that I am their daughter. Just as I view myself as a daughter of God, all of you are daughters and sons of God. And you have been hand-picked by God to attend this outstanding institution with such an illustrious gathering of wonderful professors, staff, and advisors who really take you to heart. And you have been invited to become part of this family.
My father hopes that each individual walking out of this seminary can become an agent of change. By starting with oneself, one can do this by putting the mind over the body daily and by creating beautiful families, called ideal families, and dealing with all the things that one needs to deal with in the context of a family.
A family is a textbook for how we should live our lives in preparation for the leadership roles that we are to play in years to come. I know that many of you have families who have supported you, who have encouraged you, who have always been there through your studies. So this is not only your celebration, but it’s truly a family celebration. And it’s not just only your victory in completing a job well done in the area of academia, but today is the time when the family celebrates together your accomplishments as part of this one great family that I like to think of as our seminary.
Over the years, a lot of things have changed. I’m no longer a little girl, even though at heart I still like to think so. And I have five children. Whenever I spend time with them, I realize that the world’s not what it used to be. When my father first founded this seminary, he had two objectives in mind: Number One was to combat communism, which denied the existence of God; Number Two was to fight against the breakdown of moral values affecting America.
My father wanted to have a learned ministry; the colonists who started Harvard College and later, Harvard Divinity School, had the same aspiration. In 1816, when the Harvard Divinity School (HDS) was officially established, they wanted to ensure that encouragement would be given to impartial, unbiased study in the pursuit of preaching the truth.
Over the years HDS has transformed itself and now calls itself an interdenominational seminary. Here at UTS we have an interfaith seminary. My father very much hopes that this place will be the birthplace of this feeling of one family under God, where all religions can be appreciated and understood in the context of love. Instead of concentrating on the differences of our faiths, we need to realize that we’re no different from siblings within a family. In a way the different faiths are like the children of God.
Just before the end of communism, we’ve already experienced perestroika and glasnost. My father worked so urgently and invested his whole heart in the Washington Times and to help Ronald Reagan sure that the Iron Curtain came down. And it did.
The other problem that my father had hoped to address, the moral decay in America, is still with us today. But the threat of communism has been replaced by another threat, the threat of terrorism, especially the fanaticism of people of different religions who are proving to be quite committed. Just a couple of weeks ago, I witnessed the aftershock of New Yorkers seeing Air Force One flying in the air space of New York, together with a jet; people were reliving the post-traumatic stress of 9/11. I could not help but be moved to tears. I could see that people in New Jersey were vacating their offices because they were afraid it was another terrorist attack.
Deep in my father’s heart, he’s hoping that his work in interfaith dialogue and nonviolent conflict resolution will encourage the different faiths in the world to not just coexist but to truly understand each other’s faith and come to love each other as brothers and sisters of one parent, which is our Heavenly Parent.
As you go out into the world, you have an incredible responsibility now put upon your shoulders because becoming a student of religion who investigates the different truths, different cultures, different faiths and understandings of life gives you the invitation to practice and apply what you’ve learned in the small confines of your dorm rooms and library. You are challenged to be the kind of person who is not just living intellectually in the realm theological debate, where we could spend hours and hours. Let’s be the kind of people who step outside of ourselves by living for the sake of others, not just sitting on the laurels of our accomplishments but going out and really serving our brothers and sisters.
My father loved encouraging us go on to different Ivy League institutions in this country and to get the best degrees possible. But then he said, “Look, if you’re just going to sit there with academic plaques behind your chair and do nothing for the world, then what will the meaning of your life be?” He told us many times that education is a means to become a great person, a great leader. This is the place where we prepare ourselves, not to be arrogant, not to think that we’re the greatest people living on earth, but to realize how unworthy we are in front of God, our Heavenly Parent, and how much we need to give to our brothers and sisters so that we can all build the world as one family, which my father and mother have worked so tirelessly to do.
Just recently my parents celebrated my father’s 90th birthday at the Manhattan Center. I had the privilege of hosting this event, as well as the coronation ceremony that celebrated our True Parents, our God, our Heavenly Parent as the King of Kings. As my father nears the end of his life, he keeps on talking about the year 2013, when he would retire. And of course all of us in the family are hoping that my father is talking about retiring into a comfortable and quiet, peaceful life. But my father also talked about how he would be leaving us. So he feels as if he needs to put the world in order and that this is an incredibly important transition time.
So just as a caterpillar goes through several transitions in order to become a beautiful butterfly, your years here at UTS were those formative years in preparation for you to truly soar as a beautiful butterfly. I’m hoping that as a newly elected member of the board I can inspire you to continue in your pursuit of excellence and of understanding the different religions of the world.
When you look back upon your years at UTS, you will realize that, just like you, the seminary itself will also go through a great deal of transformation. This is an important transition time for the seminary. Just as things like Facebook and text messaging are very new and different for me, even though it’s almost second nature to my kids, when you come back to revisit UTS, it might be in a totally different form. But you can rest assured that the spirit of the founder and his vision for UTS will always be continued. It will always be exalted and respected.
So please go into the world as proud and men and women. We have 45 graduates here: 34 men and 11 women. I would like to see a few more women graduating in the future. You have my parents’ prayers and all of the prayers of my family. God bless. Thank you.