The Words of the Heires Family
When the Door of Opportunity Opens, Walk Through in Faith
Julie Heires is a 2075 Blessed Couple living in Wyoming, Michigan, for eleven years. Her husband, Gene, and son, Nathan, are all active in religious and community service including the Michigan Marriage Amendment and Wyoming Citizens Task Force.
My purpose in writing about an experience I had recently is to inspire other Blessed Couples looking for a family niche before 2013 to remember one thing; providential opportunities may come knocking when you least expect them. Just be willing to take chances and doors to many new and exciting experiences will open.
Every Saturday, while scouring the religious section of the newspaper, I look for opportunities to make a difference. Therefore, last October, it was exciting to read that for the first time, the Jewish/ Christian/Muslim Dialogue Triennial Event was to be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Distinguished scholars from the three great religions were the featured speakers for the conference entitled "Religion and Power: The Power to Create, the Power to Destroy."
The West Shore Committee for Jewish/Christian Dialogue and the co-sponsor, Grand Valley State University, were very please with the overflow crowd of over 600 clergy, rabbis, students and other peoples of faith from all over West Michigan. My purpose was to not only attend the dayís proceedings, but to introduce Father and Mother as the founders of the Universal Peace Federation. It seemed entirely appropriate given the topic of discussion. Unfortunately, I wasnít invited to speak, so a question and answer session was needed, which would allow me the time to speak about True Parents.
With a program in my hand Ė there it was Ė a question and answer session after each speaker. During the morning program, audience members questioning the panel had their backs turned to the audience and were hardly audible. For the afternoon program, the organizers decided to have each questioner come up on stage and stand behind the podium. At the conclusion of the second presentation, nervous but emboldened, I stood up to ask a questions, knowing this was an unexpected opportunity unlikely to repeat itself. Once invited to come on stage and speak into the microphone, my voice could now be heard loud and clear as I spoke the following statement:
When I see all of you, I see the hope for world peace because dialogue between the three great religions of the world opens the door to the deepening of understanding and, therefore, cooperation between people of the world. God bless you all!
My name is Julie Heires and I am with the Universal Peace Federation founded by Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. ĎThe Universal Peace Federation is a global alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace, a world in which everyone can live in freedom, harmony, cooperation and co-prosperity for all. The Universal Peace Federation is guided by a vision of humanity as one global family under God, living in accordance with universal principles.í
For many years, nothing had been reported or printed about True Parents here in Grand Rapids. Now more than 600 religious leaders knew that Father and Mother continue to work for the benefit of mankind. While speaking, several nervous members of the audience could be heard stating, "What is your question?" Soon, thereafter, the moderator strongly made the same point. Looking into the faces of the audience, I didnít see so much hostility as stunned amazement that a Moonie had the nerve to get up on stage at a Christian/Jewish/Muslim conference and make a declaration about Reverend and Mrs. Moon. Forced to conclude, I ended with:
My question is how will the violence in the world finally be resolved from each of your perspectives?
James Carroll, an ordained Catholic priest, who left the priesthood to become an author, columnist and lecture, was the first to tackle this issue:
My father told me that if we human beings donít change the way we deal with our conflicts with each other, the world I doomed, that is all. That simple lesson was actually the conventional wisdom of his generation of post WWII American leaders. President Kennedy spoke that way all the time. President Truman spoke that way. It is a way of speaking that has basically been forgotten in America.
We donít talk anymore about changing the way human beings resolve conflict. We have accepted the status quo, so much so that we are continuing to make our peace with an intensely militarized culture and nation. We spend more money on our military than all the rest of the world combined. What does it get us? It gets us the ease in which we go to war, that is what it gets us. It doesnít get us the ability to win wars, obviously, it gets us into wars.
So American politics has to absolutely reclaim the rhetoric of the end of war, because there will never be an end to war until we begin to reclaim that rhetoric, reclaim that purpose. It isnít that you have to be a wild-eyed idealist to believe that this is possibleÖ The human condition has changed now that human beings can destroy the earth. Everything has changed except human consciousness. Now we have to change our consciousness, which is an act of will and an act for which we are responsible.
There is a little bit of preacher in my response to your question, but that is the single great questions before us as a people.
Rabbi Donniel Hartman, an Orthodox Rabbi and co-director of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, graciously returned to the question long after it had been asked and said:
How do we stop religion from being a force for destruction, when all is said and done? We have to become masters of our own history and of our own traditions. So we have to go back to school to learn what our religions truly say. Superficial, partial or the domination of certain fanatic perspectives have to be countered by us from within our own religious traditions. We donít know enough about our own religious tradition to do that. It is an enormous challenge, because so often the forces of good have a profound inferiority complex towards those who speak in the name of religion and power. There seems to be something more authentic about them.
Decency, morality, kindness, gentleness are often perceived to be religiously secondary to ritual judgmental fundamentalism. Each one of us must become a force insuring that the voice of our religious tradition be one of creativity and not destruction.
In order for us to overcome our challenges today, it is not sufficient that we know enough about our own religion; we also have to being to know much more about the otherís religion. If we donít, we will always see innovative moves being done as religiously false and not as authentic as the voice of religions fundamentalism. We have to achieve a sufficient level of knowledge of the other to recognize that that is truly an authentic voice of a religion.
What would happen if we truly reach a level of cooperation and inter-religions understanding, we donít simply have a dialogue, but we actually have to understand each otherÖ
The obviously heartfelt responses were an indication of just how passionately they felt about the subject of peace, a subject for which each of them has invested their entire lives. To reinforce their efforts, each of them received information about the Universal Peace Federation.
The entire conference was recorded and made available on CDís to all participants. The Universal Peace Federation declaration was left intact and is now a part of the permanent record of this ecumenical gathering. This conference opened many doors for all who were fortunate enough to be there. It offered me the opportunity to share about our True Parents. In addition, it was a tremendous educational opportunity to learn what each of the three great religions believes about world peace. There is so much that we share in common. Rabbi Hartmanísí statement that "it is not sufficient that we know enough about our own religion,
We also have to know much more about the otherís religion" was not only the underlying theme of the day, but also a prophetic statement. I look forward to the day when open-minded men and women of all faiths not only share their own beliefs, but also seek out and learn about eh wisdom of our True Parents. I will continue to look for every opportunity where I can share the work and love of our beloved True Parents. This conference experience was a blessing to my life.
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