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L.-A. Tiao: Address to UPF-Africa “Peace Talks” Webinar

Address to UPF-Africa “Peace Talks” Webinar, June 6, 2020

I would like to thank Madame Katherine Rigney, Chairman of UPF Africa, for the honor I have had in joining this discussion, on the occasion of the celebration of the UN Global Day of Parents on the theme: "From Global Parents Day to Global Heavenly Parent Day, the World at a Crossroads: The Need for a Paradigm Shift.”

The establishment by the United Nations in September 2012 of a Global Day of Parents calls to mind the central role of the family in building not only the individual but also the society and thus building world peace.

To use the expression of Reverend Moon, "The family is the central model for all human beings." This premise immerses us at the heart of the problem of parents and their responsibility in the education, protection and integral development of their children.

Unfortunately, our world today is characterized by the loss of many values that are the foundation of the very balance of our societies. Among these values is the family as the first area of production for the citizen. If we put the family at the heart of our future, we understand better the importance of parents in life.

To take only the example of education as a whole, parents have always been and will remain the primary educators of children. They have the right and the duty to set up their intellectual and emotional bases, to develop their system of values and attitudes, to instill in them the spiritual values—all the more since the future of a child is strongly conditioned before he even begins his school career. The educational institution is the framework of excellence where the state extends the education of children from the family unit. Through the education system, the state trains young people to become good citizens and good professionals and gives them the foundations for lifelong learning and personal development.

Even if this division of responsibilities seems obvious, having always worked in this way, it is well known that our contemporary society is in the throes of profound upheavals that affect both the family and the school.

Africa, our continent where family ties still seemed to resist the Western culture conveyed yesterday by the media and today by social networks, is in crisis—as exclaimed some 20 years ago by a lawyer and Burkinabè intellectual, honorable Titinga Frédéric Pacéré, when he said that the Burkinabè family is in crisis.

I came across a reflection by the Senegalese sociologist Fatou Sow Sarr on the Internet in which she stressed that we must be worried about our future because the family, the first production space of the citizen, is in danger. According to her, statistics from the National Agency for Statistics and Demography of Senegal (ANSDS) show since 2010 that more than 40% of children do not live with their two parents. The phenomenon is not only specific to Senegal but also to most African countries.

In fact, over the past few decades, the family base has exploded, and the types of unions that used to be exceptions have spread to the point where we must now speak of several types of families. Today, the number of children with divorced parents, those living with one parent, those in step-families or those with no stable home at all is sometimes as large as the number of children in so-called traditional families. Legalization of marriage in some Western countries now recognizes same-sex unions. This constitutes a real paradigm shift in the traditional conception that we have of the family. Our society has changed in every way, and the family no longer resembles the family we lived in with our parents. How, then, in such conditions do we build the citizens of tomorrow?

The factors that affect families are not only sociological or cultural. Economic problems undermine them and largely prevent parents from playing their primary role. Unemployment has devastating effects on a family’s climate and disrupts young people's benchmarks for education goals. But the education of children suffers no less when the parents have too much work or other occupations and no longer have time to take care of their offspring.

In Africa, endemic poverty is hitting families hard, forcing children to do strenuous work (gold panning, field work, housework for girls) or to end up on the street where they become delinquent. Changes in family structure are changing the classic distribution of roles, tasks and responsibilities within it. On the other hand, the advent of the information society through the ubiquity and omnipotence of social networks poses enormous challenges for parents.

It is therefore urgent to find adaptation formulas so that the family, through the parents, continues to fulfill its role of social and spiritual education, training and the preservation of our values. It is the first production space of the citizen. The failure of this institution will cause the failure of society as a whole. This is why the role of governments and international institutions is essential to support parents by preserving the family ideal. I agree with Mrs. Fatou Sow Sarr when she says that the family must be understood as a political question, that is to say in relation to the realization of the democratic project. Political power and international development institutions must empower the family to support its members. So it's about using the family as the backbone of social policy.

The theme of this day organized by UPF poses the need for a paradigm shift. This is where the importance of Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon's vision comes to the fore. Putting spirituality at the heart of our lives helps build families that resist the shocks induced by the transformations of our societies under the pressure of the evolution of the world. God is not only our governor and our creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. All men and women are literally sons and daughters of God, as Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon teaches us.

The vision of Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon which is an extension of that of her husband, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, brings us back to the root of the family. For Reverend Moon, the family is the central model for all human beings: the model wanted by our creator, Heavenly Father.

The spiritual dimension of the family is the key to the very balance of society. As True Parent and True Mother, Doctor Hak Ja Han Moon, announces a new paradigm in what she calls for the creation of "The Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community” where all the peoples and all the actors of religious life—political, economic and ideological—can come together under the same banner.

This spiritual exaltation of the family completes the responsibility of parents and that of society across the state. As I emphasized at the beginning of my communication, the family remains the social entity playing the most decisive role for the development and the personal and spiritual balance of the human being.

So, thank-you to Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for bringing us to this reflection: she who took up the cause for our continent and predicted a bright future for it. As she proclaimed in Dakar, I quote: "Africa will become the heavenly Africa which serves God, proud to stand before the world and to enlighten it. Today, with the heart of a true parent, as True Mother, I came to eradicate the past suffering of Africa and start a new story for Africa…. Also, with Africa, I am opening a new era, the era of Pacific civilization, which is a cultural revolution through the heart of filial love. I pray that together we can go ahead and create a happy kingdom of God on earth where all human beings are centered on and serve the Heavenly Parent."

In conclusion, I would say that by establishing the Global Day of Parents, the United Nations is highlighting the place and responsibility of parents in educating children for a better world. This responsibility takes on a greater dimension when we situate it in a spiritual vision that transcends the contradictions of our times. In this, the family is inscribed, as we have seen, in the plan of the True Parent, the Heavenly Father. God is not only our governor and our creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. All men and women are literally sons and daughters of God. The Global Day of Parents reminds us of this well.

I thank you for your kind attention.

To go back to the UPF-Africa Peace Talk article, click here.