The Words of the Pople Family
It was one of those unforgettable events in life. Something to savor and cherish, certainly for the family members who attended. Something the 850 participants will tell friends and colleagues about. It was especially, however, a triumph for Father as founder.
From the opening ceremony in Seoul's Sejong Cultural Center to the closing banquet and celebration in the new Little Angels School auditorium, from the care of Western and Korean brothers and sisters to the sightseeing tours after the conference, participants from 109 countries could have a deep and rich experience of Korea as a land of vitality and promise. For most, it was their first visit to Korea, and they were surprised and often impressed at what they found.
This was the tenth International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, the first to be held in the homeland of its founder and the last to stress increasing the number of participants. To improve the value of the conference this year, committee chairmen met frequently to make preparations and invested considerable effort into obtaining high-quality papers.
Following the trend set by previous conferences, this year's event featured a number of additional gatherings, including a meeting of the recently established International Christian Professors Association. The Professors World Peace Academy and the Global Congress of the World's Religions also met during free periods of the conference.
Future conferences will be more selective of participants and more exacting in the quality of papers presented. For next year's conference in Philadelphia (which will deal with the same theme as this year), only about 450 participants will be invited. Regional meetings will evaluate papers submitted for presentation, and preparations for conferences will begin two years in advance. In addition to publishing the complete proceedings of each conference, ICUS publications will print special volumes of selected papers, edited by prominent scholars in the manner of a university press; three volumes of papers from the ninth ICUS will be available in early 1982. In addition, from next year on, conferences will aim at offering solutions to current world problems.
In previous years, Father's opening remarks were a homily on values, but this year's speech was a kind of proclamation of solutions to world problems considered unprecedented for a religious leader to make. Dr. Rubenstein gave a moving introduction to Father, and Dr. Kaplan's remarks afterwards showed deep emotion.
"Father's talk this year is similar to the talks he gives to the members:' observed Neil Salonen, conference secretary-general, "and the reactions are probably similar to what the members would say if they were to make a response."
Father described problems caused by the unequal distribution of wealth around the world -- the so-called "North- South problem" -- and proposed solutions dealing not merely with trade and development, but with spiritual measures, centering on the love of God, which transcends politics and ideology. Motivated by the resolve to build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, Father is taking his basic spiritual message and applying it to the problem of global wealth and poverty. He also stated that centering on Asia, the industrialized world will be able to connect to the less- developed world, and he proclaimed the role of the yellow race as that of mediator between white and black, rich and poor. In conclusion, he called for the building of an international highway system to link countries and peoples.
Predictably, reactions ranged from indifference or skepticism about the feasibility of such a global plan, to marked enthusiasm, especially by participants from developing countries, who stand to gain great benefit from such a proposal.
"The people who come to these conferences attend many conferences throughout the year," observed Mr. Salonen. "The majority say this is the best -- not because the papers are the best, but because the conference facilitates discussions and relationships. The participants have gotten into the habit of thinking of us as the people who always care and are always committed. You must never be too busy to care for them or attend to their needs."
To the staff, Rev. Kwak emphasized the importance of this conference as a culmination of Father's many years of efforts to establish relationships with scholars. "I told Korean participants that Father holds a worldwide record for relating to the greatest number and variety of scholars," he added. He urged the staff to view each participant as a result of Father's effort, and to attend them after the model of Jacob serving his brother Esau.
The addition of an extra day of proceedings gave the conference a more relaxed mood and allowed more time to build personal relationships. On the other hand, of course, the very large number of participants made it difficult to locate any particular person. One- and two-day tours were arranged for the participants over the weekend following the conference, and many people left Korea with lasting impressions of the country's history and culture.
The American ICUS staff worked for many months to make preparations for the conference. The logistics involved in travel arrangements and accommodations for about a thousand people in the Lotte Hotel and two adjacent hotels in downtown Seoul were extraordinary. It would have been difficult in any American city. But with a few miracles here and there and the goodwill of the majority of the participants, things worked out.
Another unique aspect this year was the close cooperation among the Western and Korean staffs. Mr. Dong Moon Joo, secretary-general of the Korean Professors World Peace Academy, mobilized many Korean family members who were eager to serve the participants and Western members. Even without speaking English, these brothers and sisters gave of themselves in extraordinary ways. The help of a number of Western family members who have been living in Korea for several years also proved invaluable. Undoubtedly, it was in large part the devotion of the Korean members which inspired many of the participants' respect and admiration for the Korean people.
Mr. Salonen noted that the peak experiences in our movement during the first 21-year course were the times when our worldwide family worked together, such as during the Washington Monument campaign and especially during the Global Team's visit to Japan and Korea. "They were the visible fruits of our worldwide efforts:' he reflected. "This is now the first opportunity during the second 21-year course for many nations to come together in Korea and work together. People are coming from all over to see the result of Reverend Moon's work. The fruit of his work is not in the conference papers but in the quality of the members."
Mr. Jun-ichiro Owaki, ICUS secretary-general in Japan, reported on a luncheon Father held for the Japanese participants, in which he seemed to forget himself at times and address the professors in familiar terms he commonly uses for family members. Mr. Salonen responded, "In these conferences, Father has been treating the professors like members. Sometimes I think he sees more hope in the intellectual community than in us members!"
For the sisters present, the jewel of the conference was Mother's brief address at a reception for women and an afternoon discussion of women's roles -- the first special event for ICUS women. Her introduction as the mother of twelve children brought gasps from those present. In what was apparently her first public talk ever, Mother proved to be a very skilled speaker, reading from her prepared text in quite excellent English. Her sincerity and motherly display of patriotism and concern for the suffering people of the world struck the hearts of many.
A sense of justice made some participants sympathetic to our movement because of the recent attacks we have suffered. There were those who were appalled at the news media's indifference to the conference, and one woman felt grieved at the absence of prominent participants from previous years, some unable to attend because of delicate health and others because of severe pressure placed on their association with a conference initiated by Reverend Moon.
A question and answer session with American Unification Church president Dr. Mose Durst packed one conference room. Questions included the usual attacks on Unification Church lifestyle, although at various points, participants rose to speak on our movement's behalf. One participant praised Father's recent announcement of a minority coalition to combat racism and prejudice, offering his wholehearted support for this cause. A group chairman described the great difficulty he had in finding a biologist to give a paper on a certain topic, because the conference was initiated by Reverend Moon.
One listener protested the "conspicuous consumption" at the conference, to which Dr. Durst retorted, "There is a time for feasting and a time for fasting. When you get home, if you want to do a seven-day fast, that's fink ! We can give you instructions."
In decorated buses, participants were taken to the Little Angels School, a half hour's drive towards the eastern portion of Seoul. The colonnaded facades of the elementary, middle and high schools harmonized with the new marble auditorium. The closing program of the conference was also one of the inaugural performances at the auditorium. The school and the Lotte Hotel were designed by the award-winning architect Mr. Aum, a longtime family member and roommate of Father during his schooldays in Japan.
New York members felt quite at home inside the auditorium, seeing the familiar carpeting and molding designs. The tapestry curtain, hand-woven in Japan, features a landscape with Korean cranes and bears the inscription, "Happy World"
The Little Angels, founded by Father in 1965, made 16 world tours during their first eleven years, before Korea restricted their travel. Construction of their school facility began in March 1973. Its 3,600 students attend general education classes in the mornings and in the afternoons study in one of three special departments: music (instrumental, vocal or composition), dance (Korean or Western, ballet or modern), or fine, arts (painting, sculpture, design, etc.).. High-quality paintings, the work of student artists, line the hallways. The motto of the school is "Love God, Love Mankind. and Love your Country." Since art is an expression of one's character, the school has a policy of stressing education of character before developing artistic talents, because without good character, one cannot become a true person of the arts.
Conference participants touring the Little Angels School could see there one practical application of Father's vision for the creation of a new world. On leaving the school grounds, one finds a sign on the portal, "Gateway to the world."
On an internal level, the four-day conference was to build up to the final event at the Little Angels School. In the words of Mr. Salonen, "If the participants really invested themselves in the conference, they will have something to celebrate at the end. We want to melt the various people together into a whole, and they should feel a sense of loss when they leave."
ICUS participants are invited to summer seminars which teach the Divine Principle, but the conferences themselves are intended to express the breadth and scope of our movement and to enable the participants to establish a close relationship with Father. Mr. Salonen recalled last summer's Divine Principle seminar in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, when some of the 50 Ivoirian members got up at the final banquet and testified as to why they are disciples of Reverend Moon. They sang in their tribal languages, French, English, and at the end all the family members present sang a Korean song.
"You may have heard others report that people cried," he added, "and you may have wondered whether that was really true. But believe me, it was. I think it is a demonstration of the value of holding our seminars in a location where our family has a significant foundation." Certainly, by this standard, Korea is the ideal place."
After an elegant banquet, served in four halls of the auditorium, the National Classical Music Institute of Korea played typical Korean court music, and then the Little Angels performed eight Korean dances. The repertoire included dances made familiar to Western members by the Little Angels and the Korean Folk Ballet: the fan dance, the penitent monk, the doll dance, the farm dance, etc., but the choreography was new and the backdrops were stunning.
After the dances, the lights went out and the music from "2001 Space Odyssey" was heard. Lights began to play on an intricate bed of fountains. Known as the "dancing waters:' this unusual display of swaying fountains, lit by changing hues of light, gushed to the rhythms of classical music.
Following the banquet and performance, Father told the participants he is planning to build a resort in Korea, "so you can come and live here when you retire. When you drink of our Il Hwa ginseng tea and mineral water and see our blue skies, you will never get old!"
"I feel the world's problems started here in Korea and they will end here," Father stated. "Many people feel Reverend Moon is part of the world's problems:' he added in a humorous fashion, "But who knows? Maybe he will help bring a solution!"