Freedom, Family, Faith – The Role of the Media in the 21st Century.
Sun Myung Moon
Washington Times 20th Anniversary Banquet
May 21, 2002
Distinguished guests from the United States and around the world, parliamentarians and other leaders on the invitation committee, dear staff of The Washington Times, ladies and gentlemen. I deeply appreciate your taking time from your busy schedules to attend this gathering.
We are gathered for the meaningful purposes to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Washington Times and to look back on the historical role the Times played during the rapid changes of the previous century. During its two decades The Times has grown in dedication and distinction to become one of the most influential and significant newspapers in the world today. Its reputation for integrity and truthful reporting is unmatched.
When I first announced the founding of The Washington Times in 1982, many people in America ridiculed me. Some critics predicted that The Times would only become a mouthpiece for the Unification Church, or end up as a weekly newspaper read by almost no one. Others said that even if the newspaper maintained acceptable quality, it would run out of funds in only six months.
Yet, year after year, for these past 20 years, The Times has steadily grown stronger and improved in its quality. The Washington Times has become one of the world’s most-quoted newspapers. It regularly scoops other major news media. The newspaper’s vast collection of award-winning news stories, editorial and opinion columns, illustrations, and photographs is testimony to the highest standards of journalism. First, I wish to thank God for bringing us successfully through these twenty years of accomplishment I also wish to offer my praise to all the employees of The Washington Times for their hard work and dedication. It is through their efforts that the newspaper has achieved its well- deserved reputation for distinction in reporting and excellence. Let’s give them all a big round of applause.
I would like to take a moment to explain my reasons for establishing The Washington Times two decades ago. It was not for my own personal interest or to promote the interests of any other organization. In fact, my decision to launch The Washington Times came while I was facing trial in New York City on federal tax charges. I could have felt resentment and anger toward the United States for bringing malicious charges against me. But instead, I endeavored to serve and love this nation. Instead of seeking revenge, I turned around and tried to help save the destiny of this nation. I founded The Washington Times as an expression of my love for America and to fulfill the Will of God, who seeks to establish America in His Providence.
During the Cold War, God placed America in a position to protect worldwide freedom by blocking the attempt by communism to gain world domination. When The Washington Star closed down in 1981, this nation’s capital was left with only one newspaper, the Washington Post. This meant that the capital of the Free World had a limited perspective on news, issues, and policy, which ignored the danger of communism and its threat to the entire world at that time. In the context of God’s Will, there needed to be a newspaper that had the philosophical and ideological foundation to encourage and enlighten the people and leaders of America. For months, I waited with the hope that some patriotic Americans would start a newspaper in Washington to provide an alternative voice to the Post. But when it became clear that no one would do so, I decided we had to do it.
Ronald Reagan had been elected president in a landslide vote. Yet while he tried to maintain a strong stand against communist expansion, there was much confusion in Washington over what America’s proper response to the Soviet threat should be. The Washington Times provided leadership through thoughtful commentary and objective news and information to make clear the harsh reality of communist tyranny.
The Washington Times’ editorials and columns supported the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) at a time when many were trying to block this critical development. Years later, former Soviet officials admitted that it was America’s determination to develop SDI that fatally weakened the resolve of the Soviet leaders. Finally, in 1989 the Berlin Wall was torn down and on Christmas Eve 1991 the Soviet Empire collapsed after having held the world in fear for 74 years. I thank God that the Free World prevailed in this historical struggle, which truly was an ideological battle over acknowledging God or not.
It is the principle that God works His will on Earth through human beings. I do not have the slightest doubt that God used The Washington Times to help bring an end to the most pernicious worldwide dictatorship in history and gave freedom to tens of millions of people! In the 1980s, the Contras in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and other countries were fighting for their lives against the communist Sandinistas who were seeking to seize control of their countries, slaughtering thousands of people. While other media failed to recognize the seriousness of the situation. The Washington Times emphasized through its stories and columns the dangers of communist expansion in the hemisphere and why the freedom fighters should be supported. Once again, The Times news and information helped the leaders in Washington stay strong in their support for the Contras. Today, many people thank God and The Washington Times for the fact that freedom and democracy are alive and well in Central America!.
The mission of The Washington Times, however, was not finished with the end of the Cold War. The fall of communism did not automatically lead to world peace, nor did it mean that the ideal society that God desires would establish itself without any further effort on our part. Accordingly, during The Washington Times’ second decade it had to rise to a new challenge – that of the “Cultural War,” or the fight against the degradation of values.
God desired that America maintain its traditional family and moral values, which had fallen into confusion. Secular humanism and extreme individualism and selfishness were on the rise. As a result, money and material goods have become “gods” to people in terms of their values. This has led to the decline of religion and the rise of secular humanism, which have led to the breakdown of families and raised juvenile delinquency.
We see evidence of this epidemic everywhere, especially among our youth; the AIDS epidemic, increased alcoholism and drug use among young people, teen pregnancies and even murders in the schools. These are all symptoms that our society is still very distant from God.
Thus, ten years ago, at the 10th anniversary celebration for The Times, I defined another mission for the media. This is the need for media to promote ethics and moral values in our society. For its second ten years, I envisioned for The Washington Times the task of contributing to bringing about a moral society. Because a peaceful world is only possible based on the existence of peaceful, ideal families, The Times became a newspaper that helped people understand the importance of strong moral, family values. Even before the term “family values” became a popular phrase, every day of the week The Times was publishing articles highlighting the breakdown m values and what must be done to return to a good, moral society based on family values. The newspaper even began publishing a weekly Family Times section devoted to these issues. Today, family values have become an essential piece of the social fabric in America, even becoming part of the political landscape. We can be proud of The Washington Times contribution that promoted and elevated family values to an essential part of society in America and the world! The first decade of The Washington Times was marked by its fight for freedom around the world in the midst of the Cold War, The second decade was marked by the Cultural War and the emphasis on building families infused with strong moral values. Now, as we enter the third decade of The Washington Times, this is the time to emphasize and support faith, the time to emphasize and support spiritual values that are based on the faith of each individual. We must all understand clearly about God and the spiritual aspect of human life. Freedom at the world level, moral and ethical values at the family level, and faith at the individual level — these are the three great imperatives for our lives and for the media as well.
Freedom, family values, and faith are America’s most fundamental spiritual virtues. The reason The Washington Times is called “America’s newspaper” is that it leads the way in putting America’s philosophical tradition into practice. Of course, the phrase “America’s newspaper” does not mean that The Times serves only America for its own sake. Instead, it serves America as a country that offers itself in service to the world and all humanity.
Our lives are not just eighty or one hundred years on this Earth. We are born into this world through our physical parents, but we must know that ultimately God is our Parent. And after we die in this world, we continue to live in the world of the spirit. Is there any person on this Earth who can avoid going into the spirit world when they die? No matter how much money, knowledge or power he or she accumulated on Earth, everyone is destined to go into the spirit world eventually. You may have made great efforts on the Earth to accumulate money, knowledge or power, but these will not guarantee your happiness in the spirit world. You would do well to invest effort to learn about spirit world now, since God and the spirit world are at the roots of our eternal lives.
In this sense, the spirit world is our hometown. How can anyone claim to be a true man or a true woman if he or she does not know God and the spirit world? This is the time when each one of us can set his or her faith compass to God. This is not just Reverend Moon’s teaching; it is the providence of God. As the third component of freedom, family and faith, this individual connection to God stems from the same root as America’s founding tradition. I hope that each of you will also take up this mission of the media as your own and accept faith as the essential part of your character.
We live in an age marked externally by an explosive increase in the quantity of information. The world is overflowing with information. The development of digital communications technologies has produced a sea of information. In the past, it was difficult to get news from out of the way sources. But now there has been a revolutionary change and people can be overwhelmed with the amount of news from all around the world. In the midst of this quantity, there needs to be responsibility for the quality of peoples’ lives.
While the media can provide all the facts, they also have the responsibility to provide values to prevent confusion and to provide leadership and direction, especially today when the entire world is flooded with news and information. The Washington Times and its affiliated media properties are taking a leading role in this regard.
At the same time as the miraculous growth of The Washington Times daily newspaper over the past twenty years, other media projects have also shown spectacular development. These include the National Weekly Edition, which is distributed to subscribers in all 50 states, presenting the best from The Times daily paper. We also have Tiempos del Mundo, the Spanish language weekly newspaper now published in 18 major cities in 16 countries throughout the hemisphere. Of course, there are sister newspapers in Seoul and New York, the Segye llbo, and in Tokyo, Sekai Nippo. The Middle East Times presents news and information concerning that increasingly important region of the world.
Among the magazines, there are Insight, World & I, and Washington Golf Monthly. The Washington Times Internet site is also among the most popular newspaper Web sites in the country, attracting hundreds of thousands of people each week who read more than eighteen million pages of news, opinion, and commentary every month. This is well coordinated with the telecommunications industry, including cable television operations, Potomac Television, Atlantic Video, and the GoodLife cable TV that is delivered to viewers in all 50 states.
The newest member of our media family is one of the oldest privately held news services in the world. United Press International, with almost a hundred years of continuous operation, provides news all throughout the world. UPI will soon unveil a major technology breakthrough. It will have the ability through an aggregated database to collect stories from all our media properties and sort them and distribute them based on content and topic to subscribers around the world.
This new era of media, with the massive distribution of news and information, requires leadership and clear guidance for the betterment of individuals based on values and on the knowledge of God and spirit world. The Washington Times and our family of media have been providing this direction for the past two decades and will continue to do so into our third decade. My hope is that each one of you as well will embody the qualities of defending freedom, promoting family values, and strengthening your faith in God so that you may become leaders of the world.
God bless you and your families, and may God bless The Washington Times!