The Words of the Moffitt Family
In its sixth year, the World Media Conference, held in Cartagena, Colombia, September 5-10, was the largest and most successful gathering in its history.
Determining what constitutes a successful conference is an inexact science, but the criteria would at least have to include a certain quality in the character and professional stature of the participants. It would have to be a conference whose participants moved significantly closer in some way to a Providential goal, which in this case was a better understanding of the media's moral responsibilities.
Of course, the conference should have True Parents present. But more than that, they should be received by the conference with all the respect and dignity they deserve. True Parents should also be received in the same manner by the host government of the country where the conference is held, and also by the media and people of that country.
And finally, it should be a lot of fun. The Sixth World Media Conference was all of these things.
The main ingredient of a conference are the invited guests. We hosted 525 publishers, editors, columnists, reporters and television and radio broadcasters from 92 countries. For the most part, they were good-hearted people of high integrity. All of them were capable of responding to a conference whose sessions carried such titles as "Media Responsibility in Improving North-South Communication" and "Revolutionary Ideal versus Reality in Latin America." We had another session called "Assessing the Media on Human Rights," in which the speakers criticized the way the media gives overwhelmingly unfavorable coverage to human rights abuses by anticommunist governments and routinely ignores the flagrant atrocities committed by the communist states.
They were people who responded favorably to Washington Times Publisher James Whelan's cry of outrage against the Soviet Union for shooting down the Korean airliner a week before the conference. As one of our luncheon speakers, Mr. Whelan discarded his planned talk on Central America in favor of analyzing and criticizing in the media's lack of righteousness in covering the KAL incident. He spontaneously proposed the Cartagena Communiqué, a petition condemning the Soviets. After a very moving speech, the Communiqué was signed by most of those present.
But most important, they were people who could appreciate Father. The applause that greeted both Father's opening address, and his lighter closing remarks at the farewell banquet, was long and warm.
We had arranged with the mayor of Cartagena, the governor of the state, the police and the Colombian Navy to give Father a "head of state" reception and police escort. When Father's plane landed, a convoy of limousines, lined on both sides by a dozen motorcycle policemen, pulled right up to the edge of the plane on the runway. Surrounding the plane and covering the entire airport were four squads of naval infantrymen, a battalion of secret servicemen and many intelligence officers with radio earplugs running out of their ears and down to their suit collars.
The door of the plane opened and Father, Mother, Heung Jin Nim and In Jin Nim were the first ones out of the plane, followed by some of the 36 Blessed Couples. They stepped off the stairway and into the cars, all provided by the Government of Colombia. Motorcycles roared, whistles blew and policemen with white gloves signaled the motorcade to pull out, while the infantrymen kept watch and the intelligence officers shouted into the radios in their sleeves. It was glorious.
A great deal of media attention was also focused on the two co-chairmen and dignitaries attending the conference. Because our general theme was improving North-South communication, we had two main chairmen this year. Representing a Northern industrialized nation was Dr. Jacques Soustelle, former Vice Prime Minister of France and recently elected member of the prestigious French Academy, sometimes called the Academy of Immortals. The other co-chairman, from a Southern or "developing" nation, was Dr. German Arciniegas, author of 83 books and the senior journalist of Colombia. His column appears in more than 400 newspapers all over Latin America and Europe.
It was the presence of Dr. Arciniegas that persuaded the organization of all newspaper publishers in Colombia to come out in full support of the conference. Without this man's name and reputation being connected to the conference, we would have had much difficulty overcoming the negativity of Colombia's intellectual elite press. Likewise, Dr. Soustelle rallied the leaders of France's Le Figaro magazine to attend the conference, along with the prime movers of Europe's emerging anti-communist philosophies. Though France has a socialist government, it is also the home of some of the world's most innovative anti-communist thinkers.
Session speakers and special guest speakers at luncheons and dinners included Dr. Mario Vargas Llosa, perhaps the most famous author in South America, often called "Peru's Hemingway"; Hyun Gook Shin, Foreign News Editor of the Korean Broadcasting System; Dr. Jorge Salvador Lara, former Minister of Foreign Relations of Ecuador; Dr. Fabio Lozano Simonelli, President of the Senate of Colombia; Juan Vives, former officer in Castro's secret police who now opposes his former boss as an award-winning investigative reporter for Le Meridonal newspaper in France; Ernest van den Haag and Georgie Anne Geyer, both columnists whose works appear in major American newspapers; Vladimir Maximov, one of Europe's leading Russian dissidents-in-exile and Amb. Robert Anderson, former U.S. Secretary of Treasury and Defense.
But even with all these luminaries present, the media still focused on Father. And the speakers and dignitaries themselves also seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about and discussing Father. In almost every case, they expressed sympathy with Father's court case and were mystified as to why Father, whom they perceived as being a basically good and certainly courageous man, would be the victim of such incredibly vicious press. One man, a former ambassador, said: "I know several people who are genuinely evil and who are commonly known by everyone to be truly evil people -- and they don't inspire anything close to the anger that is heaped upon Rev. Moon." Comments like this were heard all the time and they created many opportunities to discuss the political, and even sometimes, the historically spiritual forces at work behind the persecution of Father.
During the week of the conference, Father's picture was on the front page of every newspaper in the country almost every day. One of the reasons for this was because all the newspaper publishers and radio and television newsmen in the country were participants in the conference.
Newsmen and high-level politicians get to see each other all the time, but they never get to see Father and they were determined to make the best use of the opportunity. At the farewell banquet, there was a constant stream of visitors to the head table, all coming to shake Father's hand and get their picture taken with him. Father had almost no time to eat his meal, but he didn't seem to mind at all.
President Belisario Betancur of Colombia couldn't attend because of matters related to the terrorist activity in Colombia, but he sent his spokesman to welcome Father and present his personal greetings to True Parents and the guests.
The star performer at the farewell banquet was Claudia de Colombia, a very popular singer throughout all of Latin America who has made more than a dozen gold albums. Before going on stage she confided that she, too, really wanted to meet Rev. Moon. We weren't sure how this could be done since we knew that Father would leave for the hotel immediately after the dinner was over.
But Claudia had her own plan. As soon as she finished her last number, she just marched straight up through the audience to the head table with the spotlights following her all the way. She shook hands with Father and embraced Mother and got her picture taken with them. Mother put a chair next to her so she could see and hear Father give his farewell speech from the best seat in the house.
Father and Mother were always giving. Whether greeting the participants, or eating or sightseeing, they were never alone. From before breakfast until long after the conference staff had gone to bed, Father heard reports from missionaries, from non-church CAUSA leaders and many representatives of the world press who were meeting Father for the first time. Mother was almost always at his side.
Nobody in the world has more justification than Father to hate the media. But nobody in the world does more than he to show them love. Nobody is more concerned than Father about the spiritual lives of journalists and the need to restore an arrogant, self-centered media so the Providence can be accomplished quicker and so that even individual journalists can find God in their work. Father's concern is backed up by the expenditure of all his resources, his time and his prayers. All of this to save the very people who often try so hard to destroy him.
It was very moving to see such high-level politicians and media leaders requesting "even a few minutes" with Father. Every single one of them began the meetings by expressing to Father and Mother their personal sympathy over the downing of the Korean airliner. They spoke as if they felt that True Parents' were the official representatives of all the families whose relatives perished on that flight, as if they knew True Parents were the official spiritual representatives of Korea.
The constant feeling of the organizing staff, even during the whole year preceding the conference, was that GOD was choosing the speakers and participants -- and that He was not only choosing the highest caliber of people, but He was picking those who had the ability to appreciate Father the most. On several occasions during the phase of putting together the program, we would invite a speaker who would accept and then later decline with some reasonable excuse. But then the person we would find as a replacement would be someone just as respected by the world press, and he would often say, always without any prompting by us, that he would like to meet Father or at least hear more about what he is really like. It was as if God was putting together a group of men and women whose vision was global and who were not impressed with the petty, snide remarks about Father in the news. God wanted people who would create an atmosphere that would comfort True Parents.
That week in Cartagena was an intense romance between True Parents and a nation. It was love at first sight. Father later declared that the Sixth World Media Conference "was a victory," adding with a twinkle, "and a pleasant memory."