12 Nov Go Home and Change the World
November 12, 2015
From the Desk of Laura Bunker:
I haven’t been to a conference as big and slick and rich with content as this World Congress of Families.” (Australia)
“This is phenomenal! Now I know we’re not fighting alone!” (Alabama)
“This was life-transforming. I will go home and never be the same!” (Pennsylvania)
These were just a few of the many sincere comments we heard from people who attended the World Congress of Families IX (WCF9) in Salt Lake City. With over 3,300 attendees representing 52 countries — including 500 college-age young adults from 40 countries — WCF9 was a tremendous gathering of people from all backgrounds who share a belief in the natural family and the sanctity of life.
Our favorite souvenirs from the 4-day conference were the smiles, handshakes, and hugs from many people who are strengthening families in their corner of the world. It was inspiring to learn from one another, and energizing to see that we are not alone. As one young man from Honduras said, “This makes me want to go home and change the world!” We couldn’t agree more.
We are pleased to announce that the WCF9 presentations will soon be posted online on Youtube. We are excited to share them with you, and will let you know when they are available.
In the mean time, we appreciate today’s articles by Carol Soelberg, past UFI President and current VP of Organizational Development, and Damaris McColgan, a young adult from Switzerland who was one of the WCF “Emerging Leader” scholarship recipients. We hope their engaging reports will give you a glimpse of the WCF9 experience, and perhaps even a little courage to “go home and change the world.”
United Families International, President
“The Largest Gathering of Pro-Family Leaders in the World…”
by Carol Soelberg
“Families are the rampart against tyranny!” The words sunk deep into my heart. I had been in Warsaw Poland less than two hours at my first World Congress of Families (IV May, 2007) when these words were spoken with much emotion in a strong Polish accent. We were on a tour through Old Town Warsaw, when our guide told us of the rebuild of their city after both Nazism and communism had devastated it. According to our guide, one of the great lessons the Poles learned was that strong natural families are imperative to peace and freedom.
Eight years later, at World Congress of Families IX (October, 2015), in Salt Lake City, UT, that powerful message was reverberated again! This time by panelist Dr Jenet Erickson who assured this generation that “We are a generation of hope! We have seen the results of good gone awry [abortion, divorce, cohabitation, same sex marriage, etc.]. We are witnesses that these ways don’t work. We can turn it around with our faith and hope.”
What a powerful message as more than 3000 leaders, organizations, and individuals from around the world gathered to hear addresses from experts on the importance of marriage, life, parenting, and family living as the hope for the future. We discussed ways to counter assaults on the family including pornography, cohabitation, divorce and marriage-substitutes; and promoting pro-family policies that build a renewed culture of strong marriages and healthy loving families. It would be impossible to capture in a few words all that I learned and felt at this magnificent Congress, but I will be forever impacted by the messages of hope, the concrete ideas for strengthening homes, and the strategies suggested for promoting public policy that secure and protect families.
One of the most amazing aspects of WCF9 was the incredible Emerging Leaders track that was organized and facilitated by a UFI board member and her team. More than 250 scholarships were given to college youth from around the world; plus an additional 200 young adults, ages 18-30, which included around 90 students from Brigham Young University Idaho. These 450+ young adults brought an energy and perspective to the Congress that enhanced everything that happened. Truly they are the emerging leaders of the world and they understand that natural families are essential for the protection of THEIR civilization.
I came away from the World Congress of Families IX with a renewed commitment to strengthen families on all levels and at all costs. Strong families are our greatest protection against loses of liberty and quality of life. Indeed, “Families are the ramparts against tyranny” and this “generation of hope” CAN protect and strengthening families for future generations.
Carol Soelberg is first a wife, to James Glade Soelberg, second a Mother to 13 children and a growing number of grandchildren and finally a family advocate. She is past president of UFI and continues an active role in protecting and strengthening families. She graduated from Brigham Young University in Child Development and Early Education.
Emerging Leaders: Generation of Hope
By Damaris McColgan
I attended the 9th World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah, and would like to share some of my experiences and insights with those who weren’t able to be there. I was part of the Emerging Leaders, a scholarship programme designed to support youth in the pro-family cause. I had only heard of this congress thanks to United Families International, and what a rewarding experience it was!
Overall it was a very exciting five days. Being part of a group with so much goodwill, conviction and energy has truly motivated and inspired me! Out of the many informative talks and workshops, I would like to focus on two main points that stood out to me.
1) Negative Consequences of Sexual Revolution
One of the themes that came up multiple times during the conference is a reason why families are under constant attack; the so-called sexual revolution and its negative consequences, which are very detrimental to individuals and society as a whole. Many, if not most, of the issues discussed at the congress were related to this topic, such as family breakup, divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, and abortion.
Jennifer Roback Morse from the Ruth Institute stated that one of the biggest problems with the with the ideas promoted by the sexual revolution is the separation of sexuality and having babies. What the pro-life movement advocates is the right of every child to an identity as an individual, as well as supportive and healthy family relations, which implies that adults simply have to take responsibility. What the opposition advocates is the right of every adult to sexual activity with as little inconvenience as possible, which implies that children simply have to put up with it.
Another negative spin-off of the sexual revolution is pornography and its various evils. Two speakers who had a particularly big impact on their audience were Clay Olsen from Fight the New Drug and Tim Ballard, who founded Operation Underground Railroad. Many of the young Emerging Leaders have been affected by pornography themselves, be it through their own struggles and encounters, through addicted family members or friends, or even through being abused or sexually harassed by addicts. Pornography, as Clay Olsen went on to explain, leads to structural and functional changes in the brain, as indicated by the research of Valerie Voon and others. “Porn fuels the demand for human trafficking”, he said.
Human trafficking is the trade of humans or, in other words, is modern slavery. According to Tim Ballard there are more slaves alive right now than all of the slaves in history combined. That is how far we have come. His organisation rescues kidnapped children sold or forced into the sex trade. Questioning unmasked buyers, those who pay to have sex with children, he finds the same story over and over again: The story of a pornography addict. It always starts with a picture or a little film.
I for one had not been aware of just how closely connected all of these issues are. They all have their roots in the way sexuality is portrayed and acted out nowadays.
It was quite fascinating, yet sad at the same time to realise that while sexuality is a crucial and integral part of building families, it can also be turned into a major force to destroy families and enslave people, literally and figuratively speaking.
2) The Need to Act
The second theme was the battle we see happening all over the world and the need to act. In accordance with the World Congress of Families IX motto “The promise begins with me”, leaders from a variety of religions, charities and other organisations were urging us during the conference to stand up for what is right and to let our voices be heard. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, was quoted more than once.
This emphasis was mirrored in the encouragement the Emerging Leaders received through the scholarship programme. Asked about what we are taking home from the conference, the answers were: “One person can make a difference” and “There are so many people who share our values”. Another participant added: “I want to think about the actions I take now. I want to have results, not just activity.”
However, we were also reminded that change doesn’t happen overnight. We don’t have to be everything right now. It takes simple steps at a time and continued effort.
Also, If we want to change this world for the better, we have to set aside time for it. We need to chose something and give it a time slot in our calendar. Leadership expert Dave Ulrich encouraged us by explaining that the worst place to be in, is doing the wrong thing well. Even if we start by doing the right thing not very well, we will eventually do the right thing well.
Thus I would like to relate to you the following message from the World Congress of Families IX:
- Wrong ideas about sexuality cause an incredible amount of suffering and pain in this world.
- We cannot afford to sit back and watch. We need to act.
Damaris McColgan grew up in Switzerland, but now lives in the UK with her husband, who is studying at University. Damaris has written articles for a magazine for psychology students in Switzerland, as well as the magazine of the local student body at her University, where she recently finished her Master’s Degree in psychology.