M. Belfort ’86 —

The afternoon that Sun Myung Moon passed away, I was at work, on my break. I received a call from my father, and in a subdued voice that he blamed on an upset stomach, he told me. What did I feel? Nothing. And it worried me. If it wasn’t for Reverend Moon, I wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t be sitting here, reflecting on who he was to me, trying to find the appropriate soundtrack to help me excavate my feelings, trying to ignore the raucous laughter downstairs, hoping they don’t miss my company and call me down, because I would go down.

I did feel something, eventually, and I was relieved.

I’m not a religious person, though I was born into my parents’ faith. My life is a direct result of Reverend Moon pointing his finger at my father, then my mother, in 1982, at Madison Square Garden, amid 2,700 other potential couples. Four years later, on June 21, 1986 at 6:03 in the evening, I cried for the first time. It sounds crazy. Perhaps it is. My parents were strangers. My father grew up in Texas; my mother in the countryside of northeastern Japan. Thirty years ago, they made a choice, a commitment to be together and create a family, despite the glaring cultural and lingual differences . . . and the fact that they had only just met. The one thing they had in common was a deep faith in one man, whom they believed was a vessel in which Providence could work. It was, plainly, a union of two people who shared the same values, and who wanted to raise a family based on those values. A standard reason for marriage; the approach, admittedly unorthodox.

In the simplest language, Sun Myung Moon wanted to unify. He was all about unifying. I’m a physical manifestation of his penchant for unifying things, polarities especially. He unified Christianity with Eastern thought and tradition. He unified different races and cultures through marriage. He wanted spiritual leaders of different religions to come together and unite based on their similarities. He wanted to unify North and South Korea. He changed his name to reflect his mission. There are a lot of detractors out there, but I think they miss his true message. As in any religion, there are those who twist and contort the message for their own objectives, but don’t judge their actions to be the representation of the man himself.

And if the accounts are true, Sun Myung Moon was a man who shared his measly portion of rice with other prisoners in a North Korean prison camp, even though he was starving; who carried another refugee on his back on their trek south, to liberation, even though it would have been easier, and perhaps wiser, to leave him behind. If the accounts are true, this is a man I cannot judge.

When I did feel something, it was gratitude.

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