Unification News for July and August 1998

Special Convocation on "The Family and World Peace"

World Culture and Sports Festival 1998
Dr. Thomas G. Walsh-Louisville KY

On June 11-14, 1998, as part of the World Culture and Sports Festival 1998, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification International sponsored a Special Convocation on "The Family and World Peace." Dr. Nicholas N. Kittrie, President of PWPA-USA and Chairman of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Justice and Peace, was the Chairman of the Special Convocation. Over 300 participants, representing nine co-sponsoring organizations, gathered from over 70 nations throughout the world. The nine co-sponsoring organizations were the Federation for World Peace (FWP), the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS), the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP), the Literary Federation for World Peace (LFWP), the Martial Arts Federation for World Peace (MAFWP), the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA), the Womens Federation for World Peace (WFWP), the World Media Association (WMA), and the Youth Federation for World Peace. The Special Convocations Steering Committee worked under the direction of WCSF 1998 Chairman, Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, and Secretary General, Mr. Neil A. Salonen, and was comprised of executives from each of the co-sponsoring organizations: Dr. Gordon Anderson (PWPA), Mr. Antonio Betancourt (FWP), Mr. Greg Breland (ICUS) Mrs. Tomiko Duggan (WMA), Mr. Taj Hamad (FFWPUI), Mrs. Betsy Hunter (YFWP), Dr. Frank Kaufmann (IRFWP), Mr. Michael Marshall (LFWP), Mr. Thomas McDevitt (YFWP), Mrs. Suk-Il Seip (MAFWP), Mr. William Selig (FWP), and Mrs. Nora Spurgin (WFWP). Dr. Thomas G. Walsh served as the Secretary General for the Special Convocation, and Mr. Frank LaGrotteria was the Conference Services Director.

The convocation opened on the evening of June 11, with a "black-tie" Opening Banquet. However, just prior to the Opening Banquet, Rev. and Mrs. Moon, in their suite at the Waldorf- Astoria, hosted a select group of over forty distinguished convocation participants, including former heads of state, religious leaders, scientists, scholars and martial artists. Rev. Moon spoke to them personally for nearly forty-five minutes in the living room of the suite, challenging each to reflect on the significance of the spirit world and the dramatic transformations going on in our world today.

At the Opening Banquet, entertainment was provided by Mr. Kevin Pickard and Mrs. ___. Rev. Kwak gave welcoming remarks on behalf of FFWPUI, and Dr. Kittrie then introduced the Founder, Rev. Moon. Rev. Moons address was entitled, "The True Family and World Peace." [both addresses are in this issue of UNews]

On the following morning, June 12, the first plenary session of the Special Convocation took place. There were five featured speakers: Dr. Kittrie spoke on "The Precarious Balance: the Family, the Individual, Human Rights, Social Stability and World Peace." Dr. Kittries presentation emphasized the tension, and even confrontations that occur between human rights initiatives and efforts to reinforce family stability. Kittrie states, "As we face these escalating family and human rights confrontations throughout the world, we cannot avoid asking whether growing human rights and family stability are compatible with each other." By thus accenting the difficulties associated with efforts to balance rights with communal goods, Kittrie set the stage for the speakers that followed, all of whom were critical of the twentieth centurys over-emphasis on rights at the expense of familial and social stability.

Brigitte Berger, Professor of Sociology Emerita at Boston University, and co-author, with husband Peter Berger, of The War Over the Family, spoke on "The Civilization-Building Role of the Nuclear Family." Berger argued that "the family is the culture-creating institution par-excellence....the most basic building block upon which all social forms rest." In particular Berger argued that "the nuclear family provided the emerging democratic capitalist societies of the West with their organizing principles and moral charter." Succinctly stated, for Berger, "the public lies at the mercy of the private," i.e., broader political, economic and social institutions are derived in large part from familial institutions often associated with private morality.

Elliott Abrams, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, spoke on "Rights, Wrongs and the Assault on the Family." Directly addressing the problematic introduced by Dr. Kittrie, Elliott Abrams described an "assault on the family," carried out in large part through court decisions guided by principles of individual rights. For Abrams, "the rhetoric of rights is used as a weapon against the family." By way of example, Abrams points to the way in which an "ideology of tolerance" has become an ultimate value, undercutting virtues such as chastity and fidelity, both of which support family order. In effect, the family, which Abrams refers to as the primary "seed-bed of civic virtue," is undercut and society suffers accordingly from self-inflicted wounds carried out in the name of rights.

Maggie Gallagher, author of The Abolition of Marriage," spoke on "The Family in Crisis." Gallagher points out that today half of all marriages fail and that nearly 30% of all newborns are born out of wedlock. This occurs despite the fact that children enjoy the greatest advantages when born into stable, two-parent families. The divorce culture has had an awesomely disadvantageous affect on children throughout the world. Gallagher disputes the popular notion that friendly divorces are better for children than conflict-ridden marriages. She says, "The hard truth is this: More divorce has not led to less parental conflict, to happier marriages, or to more children living with happily married parents." In one short generation, she notes, "marriage has been demoted from a covenant to a contract, to a mere private wish, in which caveat emptor is the prevailing legal rule." Today it is easier "to dump a wife than fire an employee." Gallagher concludes that society must rediscover the value of marriage and this rediscovery must be reflected in public policies that support marriage.

David Blankenhorn, Founder and President of the Institute for American Values and author of Fatherless America, spoke on "A Public Policy to Reinvigorate and Empower the Family." Like Gallagher, Blankenhorn stressed the way in which contemporary social policy creates a "marriage penalty," which undermines the incentives to keep marriages and families together. Blankenhorn argued that the tools of government must be utilized to support and enhance family relationships. For example, by revising the tax code in a family friendly way, or through divorce law reform (away from the "no fault" regime) which encourages low-conflict marriages to hold together. As he argued in Fatherless America, Blankenhorn stressed the way in which the divorce culture contributes to the impoverishment of our nations and our worlds children.

These presentations were followed by questions and answers from the audience, all of whom were clearly inspired, informed and stimulated by the dynamic and distinguished group of speakers.

In the afternoon, there were four concurrent panel sessions. Session One was organized by the World Media Association on the theme, "The Family, the Media and Popular Culture." The session was chaired by Mr. Arnaud de Borchgrave, Editor-at-Large at the Washington Times. Panelists included Don Feder of the Boston Herald, Humphrey Hawksley of the BBC, and Robert Wussler, former President of CBS Sports.

Session Two, on The Family and the State, was organized by the Federation for World Peace, and was chaired by Dr. Aziz Sidky, former Prime Minister of Egypt (1972-1973). Panelsts were Claude Durand-Berger, Director of Euroatlantis, Amb. Jose Maria Chaves, Ambassador Extraordinary and Permanent Delegate to the UN for the Organization of Iberoamerican States for Science, Culture and Education, Rt. Hon. Maxime Carlot Korman, former Prime Minister of Vanuatu (1991-1996), and Rt. Hon. Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, former Prime Minister of Barbados (1987-1989).

Session Three was organized by the IRFWP, and had as its theme, "Religions, Family Life and Society." Presenters were Dr. Christine Steyn from the University of South Africa, Dr. Charles Selengut, Sociologist at Drew University in New Jersey, Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami, the head of Sri Caitanya Prema Samstana in Vrindaban, India, and Dr. Thomas Selover of the University of Saskatchewan.

Session Four, on "The Family and the Culture of Peace," was co-organized by FFWPUI, WFWP and YFWP. Speakers were Dr. Jin Sung Park-Moon, Dr. Anie Sanentz Kalayjian of Fordham University, and Dr. Bahiya Mohamed Jawad Al-jishi the Director of Children and Science Centers in Bahrain.


During the evening dinner the participants were offered an orientation to Blessing 1998 by Dr. Hugh Spurgin and Mrs. Nora Spurgin. Their introduction was well-received by all the participants, who enthusiastically participated in a reading of the principles contained in the four vows of marriage that characterize the Blessing ceremonies. The session concluded with the sharing of a holy toast of Blessing, thereby setting the stage for the next days event at Madison Square Garden, which convocation participants happily attended.

On the evening of June 13, there was a Congratulatory Banquet celebrating the completion of the first stage of the 360 million couples Blessing. Convocation participants attended. The program, with Mr. Salonen as the Master of Ceremonies, included entertainment by Jamie Peterson and James Demler, followed by a series of special congratulatory presentations offered by several of the Special Convocations co-sponsoring organizations. Also, the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Mr. Hennadiy Udovenko, gave congratulatory remarks. In addition, True Parents made a special gift offering to each of the women recently matched and Blessed earlier that day with Jesus, Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed and Socrates. Rev. Moon then spoke to the participants for nearly two hours. The grand finale featured the unveiling of a large life-size portrait of our True Parents, painted by the famous Korean artist, Mr. Moon-Sung Ok, who was there with his wife, Mrs. Soon-Him Lee .

The Special Convocation represented a unique accomplishment in being the first occasion in which the various organizations and federations founded and guided by our True Parents collaborated in such a close and focused way. The leadership and staff of each organization worked intensely to bring about an overall victory for WCSF 1998. The degree of unity, cooperation, and mutual respect was evident throughout, and contributed to the overwhelmingly positive experience for all those involved. Participants were unanimous in their appreciation for the phenomenal work of True Parents, and each look forward to the opportunity to participate in the activities linked to the next WCSF and Blessing 1999.

Dr. Walsh was the Secretary General for the WCSF 1998 Special Convocation

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