March 2023
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I. Iriarte: A New Perspective on the Family

My connections with UPF have helped me to really understand my duties and responsibilities within my family structure. Nowadays, with the encroachment of foreign influence, it is becoming clear that our family structure may one day cease to exist. UPF seeks to strengthen our existing family by defining and clarifying the duties and responsibilities of everyone in this structure. It teaches me effective leadership values, family values, and love — that we have to consider others more than ourselves and that everyone, worldwide, is one true family. I have learned about strengthening the worldwide family, not just those within my traditional family structure in Pohnpei.

Without lineage, no one would exist. Without proper order in the family, there will be no descendants. In talking about lineage, we also have to talk about life and love. When we refer to love we refer to love in the family and how we are able to have true love in the family.

In the old tradition of my people, sex was open and free. Father Moon teaches a new perspective. Father Moon has explained clearly about the centrality of love between husband and wife and how God can even be part of a sexual relationship. Traditionally, men in my culture have freedom as to what they can do, but the same is not extended towards women. But since I have learned from Father Moon that God is both male and female, then there is definite equality between men and women.

In my traditional family structure, fathers do not have very much to do with the welfare of the children. This was the job of a wife. But I have practiced Father Moon’s teaching about family and fatherly love, and I now join my wife in looking after, bathing, dressing, and playing with my five-year-old son. This is very unusual for a Pohnpeian father. I have learned from Father Moon how important it is to be a true parent to your children. As a result, our little boy now receives affection equally from both my wife and me.

Previously, the Catholic Church taught us that woman was made from man, giving the feeling and understanding that women are inferior. The new teaching by Father Moon teaches that God is both male and female. This thinking will take some time for people within my tradition to understand, but this will change over time. If the idea of one man and one woman for life can be accepted throughout society, then many good things will result, including the elimination of HIV/AIDS in the world. Through God’s blessing on all families, we will all have peace, love, happiness and prosperity.

In my culture, anyone who is against your family is your enemy, and you hate that person. But then Father Moon says, “Love your enemy.” It changes everything when you have to love an enemy. So, in my family, the practice will be to love my family and love those who hate my family. This is a very new concept for our culture. There are three distinctions in my culture. The most serious is to hate enough to kill, taking the other person’s life. The second is just to hate the enemy. The third is changing from hatred to forgiveness.

Father Moon’s teachings showed me that loving the enemy is the highest form of love, which can bring about peace and forgiveness. In our culture, we do not have to love our enemies, but we can forgive them. Traditionally, only in the family can one forgive and love. Outside the family structure, it is not possible to forgive and love.

In our traditional culture, a person cannot be a father to all the people in his family structure; for many of them, he just a leader. But Father Moon has been teaching me to have the heart of a father and to love people beyond the limitations of my family structure.

Father Moon teaches that what you can do in the family you can also do to others. When I heard this, I was shocked. After hearing this in a seminar, I came back to my island and was really challenged, wondering what I could do. I came to the conclusion that Father Moon was right, so I began to practice his teaching. Now everybody around me is happy. I proved that Father Moon’s principle really works. After experiencing this positive approach, I am happy as a leader, and the people around me respect me more. But it was not easy at first.

When I became involved in the work of the Universal Peace Federation, many people, including government leaders and church leaders, opposed me saying that “the most intelligent person of royal blood (me) had gone mad.” Two traditional kings from two other kingdoms became my enemies. However, when they started listening to my words from Father Moon’s teachings, they were impressed, interested and wanted to join me. A seven-day seminar in Hiroshima was organized, and these leaders went with me to Japan and were very impressed.

However, those who were against us spread the rumor that I and the other leaders would not be returning from the seminar. They were made to believe that their leaders were being kidnapped! A lot of people hated me for being identified with Father Moon. Even the churches in Pohnpei were saying to people, “Watch out for Iso. What he believes in is wrong.”

However, when people listen to my talks in large gatherings, they have a different viewpoint. Others confront my opponents and tell them that there is nothing wrong with my statements. “There is nothing wrong with Iso,” they say. “He is very wise about this life and the next life.”

For more than five years, an influential man was opposing everything I did here in Pohnpei out of jealousy and envy. Finally, one day he and many of his followers visited me at my house to tell me he had prepared a ceremonial apology and invited me to his house for a big feast. He publicly made an apology and asked me to forgive him for all his wrongdoings against me.

I was wondering why he had such a change of heart toward me. I learned that he was impressed by the many new things I have been sharing with people in Pohnpei. The things I am sharing with the people are the teachings of Father Moon about family values and love, life, lineage and living for the sake of others.

Living for the sake of others is very reassuring to me, as it has been a tradition in our culture for centuries, handed down from our ancestors. In my traditional language, we have the word tohnmetei, which means living for the sake of others. Many years ago, tohnmetei was very strong and was practiced everywhere. Now, its practice has become weaker. For some, it is very hard to live for the sake of others in these modern times. These days when one asks another for assistance, something is expected in return. It is very sad.

Father Moon has taught me that first you have to change yourself before you can change others. I can relate to this statement because in my traditional language, the word wahu means respect for people and other things. After listening to Father Moon, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot change the community, but I can change myself. In doing this, people have become my friends instead of enemies. They listen to what I have to say because it interests them so much; they are not forced to listen.

To lead by example, as Father Moon says, is the best way to influence people. I have learned the importance of mind-body unity as a prerequisite for good leadership. Before, people were afraid of me but still did what I asked them to do out of fear. Now, since the principle of living for the sake of others has made me a happier person, people respect and follow me willingly from their hearts.

My role as a leader has soared in recent years for one reason: God gave me the insight and vision through Father Moon to become a better person and take responsibility by leading a principled life, setting a good example, respecting and loving others, and above all living for the sake of others.