Ngiraked of Airal State, Republic of Palau; Ambassador, Embassy of Palau to Taiwan
y previous view of Rev. Sun Myung Moon was garnered from my cursory reading of certain newspaper articles and television news broadcasts about his conviction and imprisonment in the United States for tax evasion, and about the mass interracial international weddings at which he officiated at New York’s Madison Square Garden. My impulse was to dismiss his message and movement as just another scam cleverly designed to exploit the vulnerable for personal gain.
But beneath my consciousness, there was that nagging sense of curiosity as to why so many people from different nations, including the United States, espoused Rev. Moon’s teachings and joined his spiritual movement. But I did not have any interest or desire to find out more about Rev. Moon, because to me that undertaking would have been a waste of my time. I am sorry to say that I thought Rev. Moon was simply a lunatic. The followers of Rev. Moon and his Unification Church were derogatorily referred to by many as "Moonies."
Then a Palauan lady named Margaret and her American husband named Tim Sisserson arrived in Palau. The prevailing view in Palau, which I shared to some extent, was that as "Moonies" they were followers of a suspect religious leader. But upon personal encounter, I found them to be courteous, understanding, happy and tolerant of others’ religious faiths and beliefs. As an attorney who is a strong believer in freedom of conscience and religion, I found it easy to share my views on spiritual and related matters with them. My brother, Delegate Joel Toribiong, joined the movement with his wife and other Palauans such as our First Lady, Mrs. Debbie Remengesau. My brother Joel spoke favorably of the spiritual gift and devotion of Rev. Moon.
In 2005 Rev. Moon made a historic journey to Palau and gave a public presentation at our Cultural Center in Koror, then the capitol of the Republic of Palau. His visit brought to the streets of Koror unprecedented protests by members of some local Christian churches armed with placards denouncing him as a false Messiah.
As a civil libertarian, I was offended by these protests because I believe in freedom of religion and expression. I did not attend his presentation, but curiosity prompted me to inquire about it. I received mixed reviews. Some were impressed by his physical stamina for a man his age standing for hours delivering his message with conviction, and some were impressed by his international stature and influence as he was making at the time a global journey on a private airplane to spread his message of family values and universal moral principles. Some dismissed him as a Korean philosopher whose natural charisma is mesmerizing.
After I turned down many invitations to attend the overseas conferences of the Universal Peace Federation because I did not believe it was worth my time and attention, I finally agreed to attend the conference in Taipei, Republic of China, where I am Palau’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Upon my arrival, the reception was most cordial. Then on the first day of the conference I was amazed at the national, racial and religious diversity of the attendees with their impressive backgrounds in religious, academic, political and cultural fields. Also attending were certain key political leaders of Taiwan.
My impression changed after that conference. The religious doctrine of the Unification Church was not the focus of discussion; rather, the presentation and discussion were centered on the universal moral values that constitute the lifeblood of the Universal Peace Federation. The conference focused on the critical importance of family unity and universally recognized moral values as the basic building blocks of a healthy community and nation. In that conference I saw unity of purpose among diverse and seemingly antagonistic groups of people from different nations—Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Christians of various persuasions, Hindus, etc. Then I realized that the Universal Peace Federation indeed has a special place in the international community as a positive force for the promotion of tolerance and peacebuilding among historically antagonistic sectarian, racial, social and cultural groups.
I was asked to make a presentation as an Ambassador to Taiwan from one of the Pacific nations, which I gladly did based upon my experience as an attorney, traditional leader and sports promoter from the Micronesian region on how to break barriers of intolerance and build bridges of mutual understanding and respect as the basis for cultivating goodwill and harmony among people. That began my journey with the Universal Peace Federation.
Later I attended a conference of the Universal Peace Federation in Davao, Philippines, as one of the invited traditional chiefs of Palau. From this conference, I felt a sense of peace and greater tolerance for others. I renewed my commitment to cultivate unselfish and unconditional love for my family, lineage and clan. I realized that to be a traditional or a modern leader, one must sacrifice his resources and efforts for his people; he must love them.
I then developed from my association with the Universal Peace Federation the concept of "parental leadership" as opposed to "peer leadership"; the former being leadership which derives vicarious happiness from ensuring that his people are happy—like a father seeing his children are happy, which makes him twice as happy—as opposed to "peer leadership," where a leader competes for wealth, fame and privilege among the people he governs, which inevitably leads to self-aggrandizement, corruption, mistrust between a leader and the governed, corruption and eventually the downfall of society. I then consciously began to strive to be a "parental leader" to my people.
The climax of my journey was when I went to Korea, which is of course where Rev. Moon was born. There, I saw the impressive Peace Palace. I heard Rev. Moon speak. I learned of his personal story, coming from a background of utter deprivation and isolation to his miraculous ascendancy to become the founder and inspiration behind the internationally recognized Universal Peace Federation.
Regardless of my personal Christian religious persuasion, I felt that Rev. Moon was a man of great faith and vision and that he must have been divinely chosen and ordained from the East—not the Middle East, the cradle of religion, and not the United States, the land of religious freedom and a superpower—to lead a movement of tolerance and peace in the world. I learned that his international influence was energized by his fervent prayer and vision. He is a dedicated promoter of international peace and harmony in his special way. If one fights for peace, he is a peacemaker. Jesus Christ said in his famous Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." In this context, the hope of all mankind, I believe, is that the movement for peace in the world which is desperately needed today will blossom into realizing international peace.
May the Universal Peace Federation inspired by Rev. Moon contribute to its fruition. Peace is not merely the absence of conflict; it is the presence of harmony between people. Because man in his natural state is prone to make war not peace, unless there is a proactive international movement for peace, war and the scourge of war will spread like wildfire all over the world bringing destruction, deprivation, pain and suffering to all mankind, wherever they live. There is a lot of truth in the cliché, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."
The Palau flag has a blue background with a full moon. This symbolizes a full cycle and the bringing of many blessings. Rev Moon’s name is now seen by a growing number of people in Palau as synonymous with the coming of the full moon with all its blessings.
In a personal way, my association with the Universal Peace Federation has been a journey along a long and winding path. But I have reached the point in my journey that, in spite of my Christian religious persuasion which may not be in complete harmony with Rev. Moon’s interpretation of the Bible, his teaching about the family, universal moral values, with emphasis on family, and tolerance and his unprecedented international efforts to promote peace in the world are indeed worthy of support by every God-loving person everywhere.