The Words of the Smith Family

How Reverend Moon Came To Be "The King Of Sushi"

Karen Smith

As part of her leadership training in Ocean Challenge Karen Smith obtained her license as a boat captain. Here she shows how even in his business endeavors, Reverend Moon's ideals of living for others are central. For him fishing is not just about making money, but also about solving world hunger and helping fisherman get fair prices for their catch.

By May 2006, the Chicago Times called Reverend Moon the "King of Sushi." If any one person through his force of personality and vision for the oceans influenced fish-buying and popular interest in sushi, it would have to be Reverend Moon. Of course, in America, Hollywood, MTV and Fashion Avenue are today's sanctioned portals of social influence. Our mainstream media barely accepts religious leaders as relevant and "valid" leaders of the social scene and oriental ones definitely push acceptable limits!

Throughout the development of fish-related industries, Reverend Moon urged businessmen to treat the fishermen with greater respect than was traditional at that time. In the 1970s fish buyers were notorious for fixing prices, shortchanging and mistreating fishermen, for the fishermen often had little or no recourse. So at least in his sphere of influence (which in time rippled out and influenced the larger industry) Reverend Moon not only reiterated the call to apply sound ethical principles in all endeavors but in 1983 he challenged the buyers to double the going price paid to the fishermen and to "see what would happen."

This ended the golden age for fish-buyers who would pay fishermen next to nothing for Atlantic Blue Fin tuna compared to going prices at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. It changed lives. But the businesses didn't fail. Instead, in the town that once severely persecuted Reverend Moon with its citizens even dangerously threatening many Unificationists in early years, they have now recognized him as a significant and good man.

But who is this man really? What are his strengths? How do I know this? "But who is Reverend Moon really?" was not just a rhetorical question for me. In 1978 I decided to work with the Unification movement because it sounded good (despite public media claims otherwise) and that was how I decided to "find out more about it." My research included attending the Unification Theological Seminary. Now perhaps I am slow. Perhaps persistent. But finally, some five years later I became more clear about who this unusual man, Reverend Moon, really is.

While simple, it was a rather clear and powerful realization that came one bad-weather day during the summer of 1983 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Severe weather was moving through the region, so all those in the 1983 Ocean Challenge summer leadership intensive stayed at dock that day. As was his tradition, if he was in town, Reverend Moon would gather us and we would talk.

As the wind blew outside on this August day, Reverend Moon was speaking about his vision for the ocean, about factory ships for processing the highest quality fresh and frozen fish, utilizing the fish usually thrown overboard, and making fish powder that could provide a high-quality protein source for those in emergency situations and the development of fish farms. He talked about eating more raw foods and those that require less energy to prepare to reduce the use of fossil fuels. He spoke of the oceans as the womb from which all life came, as a place for us to learn the inexorable nature of universal law and of how ocean training is to help people to become morally clear leaders.

At that moment, something slipped into place for me and I knew who he was. The only thing that made sense of everything I had seen and heard was that he really did care for all of us gathered there, he cared for those in developing nations, he cared for today's youth, our nation's future and he cared enough to seek to train the leaders needed for a healthy and vibrant society -- he cared with a father's heart. And more than care, he was acting and calling upon us to act out of the same heart of love and compassion.

He urged us to solve the problems of poverty for our "brothers and sisters" through both emergency assistance and sustainable industries that could provide people with food, meaningful work and a dignity that comes from standing without shame before our God and our own conscience. He recognized the practical need to educate people and create financial foundations and was committed to do what it takes to set the foundations and traditions capable of ensuring peace and security for all people.

I looked at this sixty plus-year old man and all of a sudden saw a man like no other I had met. Any fissures that I might have believed existed in his soul fused before my eyes and all I could see was a man with a father's heart toward us all, and that heart was simple, huge, clear, determined and resolute.

Today as I wander the halls of the United Nations, I see new facets to Reverend Moon's work. Good governance, post-conflict peace-building and human development are huge areas of endeavor in his vision, and the foundations that have been substantiated in the oceanic realms can contribute significantly and substantially to these areas as well.

Those who work in any of the oceanic enterprises are aware of Reverend Moon's call not only for the individuals but also the businesses to "serve the world," and to assist with the transfer of technology to developing nations. And so, finally, the four components essential for healthy, sustainable development have all been put in place. What is needed now are people to put these four together -- the vision, developing nation, technical partner, and donor partners. Preliminary discussions with one foreign minister of a post-conflict nation have taken place.

But today, more than technology, resources or information, we need a renewed clarity of spirit, leadership and values. Perhaps it is time for more of us to go out to sea to meet our God anew and to better understand ourselves and our place in this remarkable cosmos. For as the Psalmist said:

They that go down to the sea in ships that do business in great waters these see the works of the Lord. And his wonders in the deep.

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