Photos by Rev. Ken Doo, Remy GIndroz and Michel Reymond
Geneva, Switzerland - The majestic circular room of the Palais des Nations, one of the larger of the UN’s meeting rooms in Geneva, was filled to its capacity of 720 on May 13. The atmosphere was one of anticipation and excitement as participants had traveled from throughout Switzerland and neighboring countries to experience first hand the first occasion on which the UPF Founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, would be speaking at the United Nations in Geneva.
Heiner and Carolyn Handschin, leaders of the Universal Peace Federation and Women's Federation for World Peace, respectively, co-chaired the introductory panel. Heiner opened it by describing the correlation between a true global human security and the root of inner security provided by a nourishing, intact family, as depicted by the Norwegian artist who created the mural in the UN Security Council chamber in New York.
Contributions from the panelists
Dr. Jesus Domingo, Minister for Disarmament and Humanitarian Affairs for the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, always jovial, is a very active Ambassador for Peace especially in the Interreligious Council Youth Program of UPF and the Geneva Interreligious Intercultural Alliance (GIIA). He remarked: "I am regularly working in this very room on the banning of cluster munitions. In those meetings I do not see the many eager, smiling faces that I see here today. Yet even those discussions are linked to our issue here today. Marriage and family are fundamental and the primary school of love and character. In the Philippines the state recognizes the family as the foundation for the nation. Can you have a United Nations without united families?"
Dr. Domingo, himself father to a young daughter, spoke to the delegates about family as an important unit to effectively address major issues of concern to the UN. He mentioned a recent joint winner of the Sasakawa Award, a community in the Philippines, where the mayor initiated a system of waste management which worked well precisely because it was drawing upon cooperation at the most elementary level, the level of groups of families.
Dr. Astrid Stuckelberger, Professor at the University of Geneva as well as an Ambassador for Peace and an expert in health studies and the elderly, spoke of how today people are living longer, keeping healthier, and in this sense closer to peace than ever before in human history. The family has spread out through space and time and its members are living up to 100 years of age. We must consider the impact of trans-generational factors. Parental behaviors and habits impact children not just in terms of physical habits such as smoking, but also in issues of exploitation and violence and in establishing positive peaceful models.
At the end, she folded her written text and explained with emotion that she was very grateful that Rev. Moon continues his active and admirable work: "Each event he inspires has a great impact, many people come and I am always impressed by the work that is accomplished."
Rev. Dr. William McComish, Dean Emeritus of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Geneva and a Presbyterian minister, chairs the Geneva Spiritual Appeal Association, which is devoted to interfaith harmony.
The principles of this Association include a refusal to invoke power or to justify violence or exploitation. Dr. McComish said that Jesus referred to God as "Abba" – which might best be translated as "Daddy" and that while the Christian faith is often thought of as a personal matter, in fact the family is a key arena for its practice.
Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, Chairman of UPF International, came to the platform and thanked the UN Human Rights Council for raising the issue of the abuse of the human rights of Unification Church members in Japan and for the UN forces who had liberated his father from a forced labor camp in North Korea at the time of the Korean War. Without their sacrifices his father would not have survived and he would never have been born!
He spoke of the value of human beings springing from their origins as children of the creator and, preparing the audience for the Founder’s Address, stated that like Jesus, Father Moon does not speak to stroke people's egos but to help them overcome their egos. He asked people to open their spiritual eyes to see a God who is calling everyone to receive His love and wisdom through the address they would be hearing.
The Founder’s Address
Father Moon sat alone on the head table in the magnificent UN auditorium of Chamber XIX with the huge UN symbol above his head and engaged us all as if we were a family directly in the spirit of the UN Day of Families.
Speaking calmly, but firmly, as if discussing among close family members, he said, "I am a grandfather more than 90 years old sitting here today …. we are all one family here, let’s think of each other as brothers and sisters. My title today is about something I lived and experienced in the world and all the content that I have experienced with God. I have blessed so many in marriage. As you know, I am famous for officiating at mass marriages!"
Sons and daughters resemble their parents, he said. "Do not just think of yourselves as guests here, but rather as my family members – as my brothers and sisters. We are sons and daughters of God. True Parents are grateful and happy to see you as they are your great, great, grandparents. I cannot just speak I must also practice. Please build on my achievements. You too should become a bridge for others to reach Heaven."
Knowing that time was running short and feeling that he had still so much to add to the content of the prepared speech, Father Moon then called Mother Moon to the podium. He asked that she continue reading the printed text on his behalf, which she graciously accepted. As she read in a serene voice, he nodded and occasionally added a remark. How moving it was to see this couple married more than 50 years, who have passed through so much together in their desire to liberate God and humanity, sharing their heart and wisdom with the world at the United Nations in Geneva!