Meet the Alumni: David
In honor of this week’s anniversary for the fall of communism, today’s Throwback Thursday is a testimony from a CARP University of Washington alumnus, Dr. David Burgess.
“In 1980 I was working in CARP on the Ohio State University campus. I had joined CARP the summer before after working in the Unification Movement since 1977. Once, I was talking with a graduate student on High Street next to campus about the dangers of communism.
It was a dangerous time. In 1979, the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan and much of the underdeveloped world seemed like it was in danger of being taken over by the communists. After a few minutes, the student looked at me and said, ‘You don’t know anything about Marxism.’
Although we had studied some Victory over Communism ideology, I had to admit, at least to myself, that he was right. Right there I decided to do something about that. Shortly thereafter, our director, Henri Schauffler, asked if I wanted to become a CARP student at Michigan State. I jumped at the chance.
University of Washington CARP
After I started studying Russian, I found that the University of Washington had one of the best programs in the nation so I moved to Seattle and we started a CARP program there. At first I was the only student, but more came and we had some cool programs on campus.
We hosted Lee Shapiro who showed his film about the Miskito Indians and the terrible treatment they received at the hands of the Sandinista government. Russell Means, the famous Oglala Lakota activist and former National Director of the American Indian Movement (AIM), also came and spoke to about 500 people about his experiences in AIM and also how many people turned on him when he stood with the Miskitos against the Sandinistas.
We also hosted Eldridge Cleaver, former leader in the Black Panther Party. Eldridge fled the country after leading an ambush that wounded two Oakland police officers. He lived in exile in Cuba and also traveled to North Korea to meet Kim Il Sung. He told me that Kim Il Sung’s wife named his second child. After seeing the reality of communism, he converted to Christianity and returned home to the U.S. and worked with CARP in the Bay Area and traveled to speak about what he saw.
After finishing my Bachelor’s degree at U. W. in Comparative Literature and Political Science, I began a Master’s’ degree program in the International Studies program in Russian Studies. We were teaching CAUSA at that time and I participated in several programs, including teaching some of the lectures to a group of legislators in Sun Valley, Idaho. Then we got the exciting news of the World Media Conference in Moscow. I had met with two delegations of Soviet journalists who Larry Moffit and his team had brought to the U. S., one in Seattle, the other in the Bay Area.
March to Moscow
By this time my Russian was pretty good, so I was invited to join the conference team for the conference in Moscow in the spring of 1990. I was the liaison to the Izvestia staff, the Soviet news agency that was the co-sponsor of the conference. So many amazing things happened.
Father Moon gave the keynote speech. I wondered what advice he would give to the assembled journalists and world leaders. He spoke primarily about Adam and Eve and how God had worked since that time to restore what was lost. I reflected later that it was the message he had come to the world to give and he would waste no opportunity to give it.
Father Moon giving the keynote speech at the 11th World Media Conference in April, 1990.
We were all on edge during the program about the proposed meeting with Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev. It was uncertain even up to the last minute, but then suddenly things lined up and the meeting took place. It was a significant moment in God’s history as the mission to Moscow was finally fulfilled. A year later the failed coup against Gorbachev took place, communism collapsed, and we all celebrated – but my graduate studies in Marxism were a casualty of the collapse. It’s a price I was glad to pay.
Afterwards, I changed my focus to Russian literature and culture and got a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. As I was preparing to search for a teaching position, God intervened in a powerful way. I was praying when I felt overcome by the power of the spirit and God asked me to leave my work behind and take an as yet undefined mission.
I was appointed the Northwest Regional Director of AFC, a position I held for eight years. After our AFC mission ended, our team members continued to meet and talk about how we could continue the mission. A small group of us began an organization called Origins Partnership. Our goal was to engage younger Unificationists in a way that we could pass on our experiences with True Parents. In 2015, we conducted two mentoring programs that we called Project Fusion – one in Barrytown, another in Pasadena.
Then, in January of this year, we met in the home of Judge Mark and Lucia Anderson in Mesa, AZ and gave birth to Project Phoenix. Seven elder Unificationists met with seven younger Unificationist leaders to plan a program. We recognized that our perspectives about what the program should be were quite different, and as we shared with each other and really listened, we soon understood that the program we needed to create was one that would allow us to replicate for a larger group what we experienced in the Anderson’s living room.
Two months later, we conducted a program for 120 at the International Peace Education Center in Las Vegas. Participants included Akira Watanabe and the students from CARP Las Vegas. In July we conducted another program for around 60 people at East Garden.
Project Phoenix in Las Vegas.
Our belief, and our experience, is that the most amazing people in the world are right here in our midst and that if we simply listen, allow those amazing people to share what they have to share and unleash their creative genius, there is nothing we cannot do or accomplish. We are planning more Project Phoenix programs for 2017.
In a way, for me Project Phoenix represents coming full circle in my life. As a young member who joined CARP in 1979 and worked with Tiger Park and who helped to start CARP chapters in places like University of Michigan, Michigan State, and later at the University of Washington, I experienced first-hand the impact a person can have.
Tiger Park and Mrs. Park with members in Colorado in 1981.
Tiger believed in us. He would drive all day from city to city to visit our centers to inspire us, share his heart with us, and ultimately to help us realize our potential. He would roll out his sleeping bag in the brothers’ room, and chafed at the idea that he should be treated as someone special.
But he was special, and we came to realize it in the way that he treated us. He shared his experiences of pioneering in the Korean countryside, starting a school in the village where he worked to educate the children, and how God had inspired him through his own mind. But most of all, he shared how Father Moon was really his father.
We all owe him a great deal and we would have run through walls for him. We still miss him. Our lives were “light, bright and exciting.” That was the culture that he inspired and even though our lives were frequently quite challenging, we could do it because of the culture that he infused into CARP. That is the culture that inspired CARP when I was young and one that inspire people today as well.
Dr. Burgess with his wife and two kids in Seattle, Washington where they live.
Tags: CARP alumni