Articles From the October 1994 Unification News
Atlastka! TP bring Lawyers the Kodiak Experience
by Peter Ross, NYC
While traveling through Alaska in August of 1989, I had a memorable encounter with a native Alaskan, a woman from the Yup'Ik Eskimo tribe. Her hospitality was simple and gracious towards a stranger who had arrived in her remote village to visit for several days. It was in Scammon Bay, a village of about 350 people on the coast of the Bering Sea.
On my last day as we bade farewell, Alice presented me with a copy of a book which she had written, called In Two Worlds. She had inscribed it, "To Peter, In memory Alaska adventure. Waqa. Quana mavit tailuten. Hello? Thank you for coming here to Alaska." It was Alice Rivers' (American name) account of her traditional Eskimo family life with all of its seasonal activities: fish camp, berry picking, seal hunting, all centered around the customary home life in the village. Her book was however tinged with a certain sadness for it was intended to record a way of life that was passing away before her eyes. Her own children were growing less interested in the ways of their forebears as they became caught up in the intrusive images of an easier and more pleasurable life that was offered by the Outside .
Several weeks later I was fishing for halibut with True Parents in Kodiak as part of a small gathering of regional directors and regional coordinators. Returning from fishing late in the evening, Father had asked each person to give a testimony of their life and how they had joined the Church and encountered True Parents. My elder brothers, having such extended and interesting accounts, ensured that the nights grew close to day before Father would eventually retire us all to bed to get some sleep before the next day's fishing. The sweetness of those sleeps is incomparable! In the end, six evenings were not nearly long enough to get through all the testimonies.
However, in anticipation of perhaps being called upon, I reflected on my life as Father had asked us to do. In such a sacred context and amidst such holy surroundings, I could more readily appreciate the process of re-birth I had experienced with True Parents. As we drove out to the fishing grounds early one morning I could discreetly cry amidst the rain and whipping spray of the Aleutian Trench coming over the bow of our Good-Go. Looking over at Father's boat I experienced waves of gratitude roll over my heart as we ploughed our way through the choppy waters towards the fishing grounds.
In comparison to a way of life that I had seen passing away in Scammon Bay, here at Kodiak centering upon True Parents, I could see the re- awakening of new life in its most authentic and original form. While I never got to give Father my testimony in our evening meetings, I still believe that the wind and spray carried something of my heart across to Father's boat on that memorable morning. No longer in two worlds, but in "one world of the heart."
Almost exactly five years later, I was able to return to Kodiak when Father invited all Unification lawyers to a special conference. While the purpose of the conference was for us to receive Father's commission to inaugurate an international lawyers association, it was more than one-dimensional. (If one wonders about the extent of God's grace in the Completed Testament Age, one need look no further than True Parents' invitation to all lawyers within the Unification community to join them in Alaska!!!)
Father was indeed very serious to create an organization that could serve as an instrument in the transformation of society. Looking beyond and through his own personal experience of the corruption in the justice systems in Korea, Japan, America, and elsewhere, Father can feel great empathy and compassion for all those who have been victimized by the abuses of power and privilege. Yet, with a heart of forgiveness, and free of any grudge or resentment, he is determined to create a new society out of the ruins of the decaying fallen culture. A symptom of this dissolution is the degradation rampant in our most esteemed institutions. It is all the more tragic because those institutions were originally created to advance the highest ideals and values. The damage to the justice systems of the world as a result of selfishness and greed violates that which is most sacred. The very notion of justice in its truest sense is really one and the same as the concept of restoration. And the achievement of true justice is but an application of the principles of restoration. Who then, other than Father, has the moral substance to initiate an association dedicated to exposing the roots and tentacles of societal corruption? Who else can promulgate the highest ethical and principled standards for human conduct in both the private and public arenas? In this sense, Father is the Jurist of Jurists.
Father initially spoke to us after Family Pledge service on Sunday, August 28, and outlined a very broad and deep vision for what an international organization of legal professionals should do and who should be a part of it. However, he was more concerned that we become lawyers, who in character and by nature, would embody and apply Heaven's standards of goodness and righteousness. A significance of the conference was for us to cast off the detrimental encroachments from a regressive world. In this regard, our three meetings with Father, the several presentations of "bitter medicine" given by Reverend Zin Moon Kim, and the various challenges that we encountered in the course of our time on the ocean were perfectly measured by our distinguished host to give us the trigger for a fresh start.
At the same time, Father sought to instill in us a greater concern for the well-being of society and the world and he advocated a diminution of any concerns for temporal material perks. He advised us that the good lawyer seeks to serve the law of the mind, while the bad lawyer is enslaved to the law of the flesh. Has the lawyer become a servant or a master to the law? If the latter, he is able to teach and lead others in the right direction. Father was most concerned for our eternal lives and cautioned against operating in an enslaved and subdued conformity with a fallen society and world. Spirit world will show us clearly how we have lived.
This therefore was no academic conference nor in any way a typical lawyers' conference. It was alternatively, a conferring of great blessing upon us, 29 in all, representing almost 50 Unificationist lawyers throughout the world. And as we know, with great blessing comes great responsibilities!
With props in hand, Father then proceeded to personally instruct us in the fine art of salmon fishing and the less deft craft of halibut fishing. The salmon rod in Father's hands seemed similar to a rapier in comparison to the clunky halibut pole which had all the appearances of a Scottish claymore. Father's passion and love for the salmon was apparent in his salute to this noble fish as the true love role model. He was especially pleased to point out to us that the word "salmon" was really an abbreviation for "salvation Moon." Inspired, instructed, and inspected, we constituted a small flotilla as we traveled to accompany Father and Mother for our first taste of Alaskan salmon fishing.
En route, I looked wide-eyed at the vast ocean waters and contemplated the great depths below, abundant in the rich resources that Father envisions as feeding the world. It is hard to absorb either the environment or the vision. The great stretches of wilderness, seemingly uninhabited and virgin, were a delight to behold after the steel and concrete of Manhattan. (Towards the trip's end, Bill Lay and I had set about designing an inter-island golf course, outlining some perilous fairways and mapping greens that only the reckless would seriously attempt to reach!) In this vast and inaccessible place - quiet but for the sounds of water, wind, and occasional bird calls - where Father and Mother relentlessly continued to advance the recreation of the world, the Biblical parable of the mustard seed struck a chord in my mind.
Kodiak exults the artistry and genius of God. The rare and spectacular displays of color - in the skies, the sunsets, the dancing rainbows atop the water line between the speeding boat and the surface, the lush greens of small islands bursting with Sitka spruce. Looking at these majestic trees and how they crowded and hugged the shoreline reminded me of my four children immediately charging into the ocean upon arrival at the beach. Kodiak also demonstrates the joy and humor of the Creator: there is nothing more comical than to see a stout puffin skedaddle across the water to avoid an oncoming boat or an otter lying care-free on his back snacking on a fresh-market delicacy with the air of an aristocrat dining at the Ritz.
Alaska! Father once played with the sound of "Alaska" and attributed its meaning as being that place we eventually reach with anticipation and hope after a long and difficult journey. "At-last-ka!!!" He has also described Alaska as being America's true prayer ground. For all of us arriving there from different countries and different mission and work responsibilities, Alaska generously extended itself to us on both counts. It was a temporary spiritual sanctuary, offering reprieve from the challenges and battles that we each face in our own private and public lives. It afforded us a profound and intimate daily communion with God and with Father and Mother. It also gave us the chance to meet each other - outside the fortresses of pin stripe suits and tight neck ties - exposed before the natural world in our make- shift fishing attire! The bonds of camaraderie and friendship forged as a result of our shared experience with Parents reminded me of the enduring relationships cultivated at Barrytown. This heavenly fraternal networking is always a concern of True Parents, that we might be more able to go beyond our old-world differences and create a real and authentic foundation for dynamic cooperation.
It was especially frustrating for me personally not to land a silver salmon in a legitimate manner from a river that was teeming with peak- hour traffic. To keep a salmon that was caught in the river as a result of an accidental snagging is prohibited by law. Boy, was I tempted when I landed a real beauty only to realize that he was hooked in the gut??!! (Is there a lawyer in the house?). However, with Father and Mother several yards away and surrounded by a bevy of righteous lawyers, the thought was drowned as I returned the salmon to the water. It then seemed that the salmon picked up on my anguish, which only increased over the course of our two days at the river, and so they conspired to taunt me.
Jumping boldly out of the water right in front of me, some real silver bullet would swish its tail defiantly in mid-air only to dive and then speed away down-stream without as much as a bye-your-leave!! I had the classic experience of many a fisherman: the one that got away. I hooked him up-stream to my left at 10:00 o'clock; he jumped out of the water right in front of me at 12: 00 o'clock; then hit the water and took off like a bat out of hell breaking my line and taking my tackle. And I was dead at high noon. If at any future date you happen upon a great silver salmon wearing my jewelry, kiss it for me!
But the worst was yet to come! In a choice moment after an early speech on the Tuesday morning, Father demonstrated his wonderful humor. While chiding those of us who failed to land a keeper he quipped: "Well it wasn't as if there weren't enough fish in the water." It seemed to me then (there must have been a reason other than my own incompetence and impatience!!) that God had something He wanted me to experience - other than the succulent taste of my own trophy silver salmon. However, I am reminded that in Ireland the salmon is a symbol of wisdom and in a more modest moment of honest reflection I know I have much yet to learn, particularly from the Master Fisherman. So in the words of the rabbi, "next year in Jerusalem!"
The English-born Canadian poet, Robert Service, wrote of the law that governs that part of the world, north of the 57th parallel, in a poem entitled: The Law Of The Yukon. It expresses something of the spirit that I believe Father sought to instill in us as he commissioned us to establish this new organization:
"I am the land that listens, I am the land that broods;
Steeped in eternal beauty, crystalline waters and woods.
Long have I waited lonely, shunned as a thing accurst,
Monstrous, moody, pathetic, the last of the lands and the first;
Visioning camp-fires at twilight, sad with a longing forlorn,
Feeling my womb o'er-pregnant with the seed of cities unborn.
Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my sway,
And I wait for the men who will win me - and I will not be won in a day;
And I will not be won by weaklings, subtle, suave and mild,
But by men with the hearts of vikings, and the simple faith of a child;
Desperate, strong and resistless, unthrottled by fear or defeat,
Them will I gild my treasure, them will I glut with my meat."
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