So last weekend we were in Niedernhausen doing ancestor liberation. Today my mailbox has this email message: Release Yourself from Family Karma. Just confirms my conviction that the world is opening up. Of course I can’t talk to all my former colleagues at the UN about all my experiences in the Unification Church, about the witnessing the fundraising, the conditions, the challenges, the desperation, the cultural clash, the sacrifice, the doubt, the determination, the conflicts. I have to find the language of reconciliation, of capacity building, of networking, of outreach. It doesn’t help to try to explain our faith, our belief in eternal life, the existence of a spiritual world. Afterall, even these recent posts in my mailbox are also probably just a composite of google search results teed up with spyware on my google mail account. Right? We can’t trust the internet anymore afterall can we? So how do we come to terms with this digital new age?
Should I deny “my true identity” and write fake stories or post misleading photos on FaceBook? Should I fear the consequences of being transparent, naked and unashamed in my naïve faith that God will use all for the greater good? Should I just withdraw and allow the fake news and sensational stories dominate the internet and FaceBook and the daily discussions all around me?
Remember I said I would not witness, I would not push my beliefs on anyone but would honestly answer any questions people asked me? Why? Because I was afraid of the narrowmindedness which I had experienced as prejudice during my years of witnessing and fundraising in Australia, America and New Zealand. Even in Austria, at the UN as a representative of the Women’s Federation for World Peace International, I found people judging me, excluding me, some even afraid of me, carefully ensuring that I would not become a part of their clique. Yet everywhere were the open ones, those who welcomed my support with open arms, those who even sought my expertise as a native English speaker to polish their statements.
How beautiful when we appreciate our differences and cooperate with each other! How fascinating to learn of other faiths and cultures and to discover commonalities as well as exotic differences.
Ten years ago when I started working at the UN, Rev Moon was in Spain and proclaimed “True Parents United Nations”. In his messianic capacity, Rev Moon often referred to the United Nations (UN) and the need to overcome the self-centred national interests for the sake of world peace. I took it to heart and proudly signed my oath of allegiance, pledging to put the interests of the world community above my personal or national interests. Little did the members of the Unification Movement perceive that the United Nations was NOT merely the Member State representatives of each of the 192 member nations.
I came to appreciate the position of a staff member, working as an international civil servant. I worked with Indians and Pakistanis. I sat in an office across the corridor from an Israeli and a Palestinian. They ceremoniously tore down the wall dividing their desks from each other as they consciously demonstrated the will and determination to cooperate in peace and unity. I had American and Canadian colleagues. I loved the international environment and the respect we each had for each other. Then there was the money coming from the EU and the Americans. Working in Nuclear Security we were dependent on extra budgetary contributions to finance our whole division. The world had not yet appreciated the need for nuclear security. Just as the tragedy of Chernobyl gave birth to the department of Safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency, it was the tragedy of 9/11, the attack on the World Trade Center in New York that became the basis for the establishment of an Office of Nuclear Security.
So I see my role now as an educator. No, I will not disclose any secrets of nuclear security. I signed the declaration afterall – every time I signed a new contract, or separated again from the Agency two years later. We pledge, as international civil servants, not to disclose any information available to me in my capacity as an employee of the UN, which may be sensitive or secret, unless it is already published and publicly available. Well, maybe what I share now is not explicitly told or spoken about! I found myself as an international civil servant and former NGO representative in a unique position of experience and expertise which very few of my UN colleagues had. Some of my colleagues came from diplomatic missions. Some were children of diplomats. I did not meet many people who had entered the service on merit and perseverance. Of course once I publish this, those who read my blog will tell me where I am wrong! Afterall, if you never tell anybody, then how should I know?
So I wanted to talk about the UN being composed of Member State (MS) representatives, the Board of Governors (BoG) and the administrative staff. The diplomats, the MS reps rotate and change according to their respective national situation. The Board of Governors has its own Terms of Reference (ToR). The administrative staff has the Admin Manual. When we talk about the UN we refer to a great group of organizations each with their own BoG, ToR and Admin Manual.
So as an employee in the IAEA I may have been very well informed about my own area of work. But there are over two thousand people working for the IAEA, each in their own area of expertise. We had very little to do with UN staff. We were Agency staff.
I remember a discussion I had with a security guard. They are appointed by UNOV. I was collecting the key for the Toastmasters Room and in response to his query about the nature of Toastmasters, I included the concept of communicating beyond boundaries. He told me he found Agency staff to be a bit uptight and commended a Toastmasters club which could include all VIC staff.
That’s what I loved about being a Toastmaster. In Toastmasters we had members from UNOV (United Nations Office in Vienna), CTBTO (Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organization), UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), IAEA as well as some of the other smaller organizations at the VIC (Vienna International Centre).
So now I am not only a Toastmaster, but also a former UN staff member and NGO representative.
Some people fall into a black hole when they retire. I have not given a speech at Toastmasters in quite a while. I do occasionally win the Best Table Topics Award for the best impromptu speech of the day. I usually try to say something about what I’ve been doing which reflects my values. Call that witnessing if you like. I’ll just say, that’s all for today and continue my blog another day. Check out my indoor plants.