Unification News for February 1999

WCSF 1999 Special Convocation on "Family Ethics and World Peace"

Thomas G. Walsh, Ph.D.
Louisville KY

On February 4-8, 1999, in Seoul, Korea, as part of the World Culture and Sports Festival 1999, a Special Convocation of more than 400 international participants from 97 nations was convened to address the topic of "Family Ethics and World Peace." The participants included 20 former heads of state, 5 United Nations Ambassadors, more than 40 religious leaders from a wide variety of faiths, and numerous scholars, scientists, journalists, women and youth leaders, and artists.

Building on the Special Convocation held in New York in June of 1998, which also focused on the family and world peace, this convocation offered in-depth exploration of the ways in which family ethics plays a critical, if not central role in the establishment of world peace. It is difficult to imagine any other occasion in the world, if not in world history, where so many world leaders, from such diverse areas of expertise, are brought together to deliberate on the significance of the family. No institution rivals The World Culture and Sports Festival in this respect.

This Convocation, despite difficulties related to the determination of the venue (only established a few weeks before the event began), was blessed with very good fortune. This was due in part to the unity among the leadership and the members of the Steering Committee. In addition, however, there seemed to be a great wave of spiritual support, a guiding hand which seemed to compensate for any particular shortcoming. Most importantly, the quality of the participants was extremely high, representing not only the best which the co-sponsoring organizations could offer but, indeed, representing many of the world’s great leaders. Furthermore, while these many leaders are accustomed to attending international gatherings among peers and members of their own respective professional groups, this conference brought everyone together in common collaboration and shared experience. This enriched the experience for everyone. In fact, the response of the participants was overwhelmingly affirmative. While initially there was great concern about proper care of special VIPs, by the end of the conference considerations of class, status, or position seemed to fade in favor the general concern with working together to improve our world.

Sponsored by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification International, under the leadership of Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, the Special Convocation was Chaired by Ambassador Phillip V. Sanchez, the Publisher of Noticias del Mundo and Tiempos del Mundo. The Vice-Chairman was Edward Schreyer, the former Governor General of Canada (1979-1984).

The Convocation opened on the evening of February 4th in the Grand Ballroom of the Lotte Hotel with more than 800 guests—both international and local— in attendance. After a wonderful performance by the Little Angels, welcoming remarks were offered by Neil A. Salonen, Secretary General of FFWPUI, Amb. Sanchez, and Rev. Kwak. Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Founder of FFWPUI and WCSF, then offered his Founders Address, which explored the meaning of life and death and, in addition, proposed the establishment of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace.

The Convocation program consisted of Plenary Sessions, featuring distinguished speakers, and concurrent Panel Sessions, organized by the several co-sponsoring organizations and federations, which included the Federation for World Peace, Professors World Peace Academy, Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace, International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, Women’s Federation for World Peace, World Media Association, Youth Federation for World Peace and Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (United Nations Office).

The first Plenary Speaker was Hon. Albert Reynolds, former Prime Minister of Ireland (1992-1994) who spoke on the breakthroughs in the work for peace in Ireland. Susan Ford Bales, daughter of former USA President Gerald Ford, spoke on the significance of her own family experience, and particularly her concern with breast cancer awareness. Dr. Wally N’Dow, Special Advisor to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), spoke of his wide experience with international issues and particularly the work of the United Nations. Arnaud De Borchgrave, President and CEO of United Press International, and Editor-at-Large with the Washington Times, gave a penetrating analysis of the promise and perils of modern technology in relation to the pursuit of peace.

There were ten separate panel sessions, each with a roster of highly distinguished speakers, including persons such as Hon. Kenneth Kaunda, former President of Zambia, Hon. Rodrigo Escobar Navia, former Minister of Government for Columbia, Dr. Christine Durbak, Vice-Chair of the UN’s Department of Public Information, Mr. Armstrong Williams, host of the Armstrong Williams Show, Dr. Gwendolyn Mikell, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Hon. Jin Nam-Kung, a member of Korea’s National Assembly, Dr. Hanifa D. Mezoui, Chief of the Non-Governmental Organizations Section of the United Nations, Ven. Phramahachanya Khongchinda, Director of the Panyananda Institue of Thailand, and many, many others.

In addition to the basic Convocation program there were several other highlights. One evening the Martial Arts Federation for World Peace offered a demonstration of a martial arts technique used in the training of blind people. An Indonesian practitioner enthralled people with his ability, while fully blindfolded, to find hidden objects, identify people at a distance and break metal bars with his hands, head and feet.

On February 6, the day before the International Blessing Ceremony, the Inaugural Assembly of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, was convened. Neil Salonen opened the event, and introduced the conveners, Dr. Ninian Smart, R.F. Rowny Professor Comparative Religion at the University of California, and Dr. Nicholas Kittrie, Chairman of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Justice and Peace. Both Dr. Smart and Dr. Kittrie gave very inspired presentations, emphasizing the great work of Rev. and Mrs. Moon for the cause of world peace. Dr. Smart reviewed the history of Rev. Moon’s initiation of interfaith projects, not to mention his love for fishing. Dr. Kittrie even put forward the idea that Rev. Moon should be awarded the Nobel Prize. Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak then introduced Rev. Moon, underscoring a number of the Founders works and speeches over the years which foreshadowed to the establishment of this new organization.

In his "Inaugural Address" Rev. Moon said, "The time has come for us to seriously reflect even on such a matter as restructuring the United Nations. Might it not even be possible to imagine a UN as adopting a two-house structure? What if the existing United Nations comprised of national representatives serving in one house that speaks for national interests [were supplemented by] a religious council or UN senate…comprised of distinguished religious leaders and in the those fields of society pertaining more to the heart, for example, culture and education. …Through mutual respect and cooperation, these two houses would be able to contribute enormously to the realization of world peace."

Immediately after this Inaugural Address a "Declaration of Support" was presented by Mr. Giulio Murano of the International Human Rights Federation, and at this time the participants indicated their support by signing the declaration. Rev. Moon then closed the Inaugural Assembly by creating and signing a large calligraphy which presented a motto for the new organization. The motto can be loosely translated as stating that "world peace is the longing of all humanity throughout all of human history."

On the eve of the Blessing, all the participants were presented with an "introduction to the Blessing" by Mrs. Nora Spurgin and Dr. Gordon Anderson. They spoke from personal experience as well as with theoretical sophistication. At the conclusion everyone joined in a Blessing toast, and of course everyone was warmly invited to attend the next-day’s Blessing ceremony at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium.

Given the sub-freezing temperatures that had been constant through the entire week, we did not expect many participant to attend the Blessing in an outdoor stadium. We were most pleasantly surprised, however, to see not only the temperatures rise on the Blessing day but to see the vast majority of Convocation participants bravely and excitedly boarding the busses to the stadium. We were all treated to a most moving and beautiful experience. The very presence of a huge stadium packed with couples was awe-inspiring, particularly in light of the fairly harsh weather conditions. One participant described the event as a "life changing experience."

That evening there was a concluding Congratulatory Banquet at the Little Angels School. On this evening Rev. Moon spoke to the participants one final time, presenting a speech entitled "True Family and True Universe Centered on True Love." After this speech, several gift presentations were made to the Founder on behalf of the Convocation’s co-sponsoring organizations. The evening then concluded with a stunning and beautiful performance by the Universal Ballet and the Kirov Ballet. As one inspired participant stated, "To build such a great foundation in the arts, with the Little Angels, the Universal Ballet, and the Kirov Academy, in an of itself would be huge accomplishment over a single lifetime, but Rev. Moon’s great achievement in the arts is only one part of a global network of achievements in all fields."

At the close of this Special Convocation there was a sense that participants were indeed inspired to continue to work together for world peace. When, at the concluding banquet, Rev. Kwak asked whether the attendees could support him, as Rev. Moon’s representative, in the work of the new Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, there was overwhelming support expressed. This conference represented in many ways a great breakthrough, and bodes well for the future.

In particular, in the late stages of Rev. Moon’s ministry on behalf of world peace, many are coming to recognize the scope and scale of his accomplishments. Not only are the prejudice and resistance fading, but many of the world’s highest leaders—both political and religious—are beginning to acknowledge this fact. Several participants were seriously discussing the prospects of nominating Rev. Moon for the Nobel Peace Prize. What is most significant, however, is that, as the unjust discrimination is overcome, the opportunity for the fair dissemination of Rev. Moon’s ideas can proceed unimpeded and be assessed freely and openly by people throughout the world. The power of those ideas can then be unleashed to help fulfill the universal human quest for world peace.

Dr. Walsh was the Secretary General of the WCSF 1999 Special Convocation.

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