Unification News for June 1997

Partnerships for Peace - Recognizing Healthy Families as the Cornerstone of a World of Peace

Heather Thalheimer
June, 1997
Manchester, NH

One of the most urgent issues facing us today is how to help families be strong and healthy. We are all too aware of the consequences of family breakdown. Judith Wallerstein, one of the most influential researchers on the effects of divorce and the author of one of the longest-running studies on the subject states that, "The effect of the parents' divorce is played and replayed throughout the first three decades of the children's lives... While this does not necessarily cause them to fail as adults it does make the normal challenges of growing up even more difficult."

What can we do to strengthen and empower the family? At the very core of the family is the conjugal relationship of husband and wife. The power behind that crucial relationship is a sense of commitment. Commitment makes a difference because when it's there we become solution oriented; looking for ways to make the relationship work versus ways to get out.

We loose sight of our commitment when we loose sight of the big picture. Why does my marriage matter? Michael Medved addresses this issue in an article published in The Washington Times, National Edition. He writes, "The missing ingredient in American marriage...is a context-a feeling of higher purpose derived from the knowledge that one's marriage matters to others" In what way does it matter then? Mother Teresa spoke to this question when she said, "Your work in the family is so important. If there is no peace in the world today, it is because there is no peace in the family. Help your families to become centers of compassion and forgive constantly and so bring peace." Our families are the very cornerstone of world peace. When one family breaks down the community is affected and ultimately the world. There is a ripple effect.

The founder of the Women's Federation for World Peace, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon and her husband Rev. Sun Myung Moon have together initiated numerous, diverse projects around the world reaching into every aspect of human life. However, they see their central work as strengthening the family. To rekindle and affirm the commitment between husband and wife, WFWP has invited couples to "Build a Bridge of Love".

Why the Bridge of Love? First of all, WFWP is widely known for it's work in "Building Bridges of Peace". Since 1995 over 20,000 American women have crossed the Bridge of Peace to meet women from other nations and racial backgrounds, replacing resentments and distrust with hope, compassion and love to become Sisters of Peace. These are incredibly moving events. Through the Sisterhood Project WFWP enables people to personally experience the depth and power of reconciliation. To be a peacemaker. Countless women spoke of experiencing a sense of healing as they crossed the bridge. They spoke of being suddenly empowered to go beyond their resentment and pain and wanting to create a relationship with someone who was formerly an "enemy". Powerful stuff!! These beautiful ceremonies allow an individual to take a new direction. Ceremony or ritual is often used to allow our hearts to take a quantum leap. The Bridge of Love Ceremony can be a transforming moment for any marriage.

Each of us carries baggage from the past; our own past or from centuries and lives long gone. We have a tendency to reenact the limitations of our parents and grandparents and so on. In the sacred texts and other literature we see incredible pain and suffering because of the misuse of love and selfishness. Those same scenarios are played out all over the world today. Through the Bridge of Love ceremony we address the pain of the past so that we can put it behind us. Often true love eludes us. True love and resentment cannot co-exist in the heart. To build true love we need to let go of the resentments in our hearts. In drinking from the cup of love and unity we are separating from the past; from a tradition of self-centered or false love and connecting to a new tradition of true love. True love is a love that lives for the sake of the other. It is a love that uplifts and empowers and is life giving. Our love can reflect all that we know God to be.

On May, 18th 1997 WFWP of New England celebrated its first Bridge of Love Ceremony in Salem, New Hampshire. Tears flowed as each couple crossed the Bridge to meet each other anew. The value of this ceremony is that it walks people through three important steps; renewing their commitment to each other, acknowledging their marriage strengthens the extended family and offering their family as a cornerstone of world peace. When we see our commitment makes a difference we reconnect to the "higher purpose" that Michael Medved referred to. Thus transformed each couple can practice true love and the tradition of living for the sake of others.

WFWP would like to invite you, your family and your friends to the Bridge that together we can Build a Bridge of Love.

Reprinted with permission WFWP National Newsletter.

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