August 20, 1999
When our family had the special grace to spend 40 days in Jardim earlier this summer, our infrequent thoughts of life in the United States usually centered on how the upcoming Blessing would be accomplished. We prayed that we would have the spiritual gumption to participate without hesitation.
Upon our return, we learned the general plan for the blessing of 400 million couples: (1) giving the Pure Love Pledge cards to 30,000, (2) abstinence education, rallies, and outreach to churches and groups, and (3) the matching of couples to attend the next Blessing.
It took about 2 weeks once we returned to get into the swing of things and begin step one. We went anywhere we could find a lot of people together, beginning with a long night at Camden Yards in Baltimore, and then tried RFK Stadium, a 4-H fair, three county fairs, an ethnic celebration, and the beach. Averaging two hours a day for 11 days, we distributed 30,000 cards and candies. Letting our conscience be our guide, as Rev. In Hoi Lee recommended, we decided to do an extra couple of thousand to cover dupes. So we went to the beach, met about 2,000 more people, and celebrated in the surf.
We got a lot of good feedback from people who stood there and read the pledge or just responded to the name itself. Some even came back to us and asked for more copies. In busy settings, we sometimes got dizzy walking in circles trying to catch people coming and going.
Practically speaking, the cost of the candy is about $230; with the printing, baggies, parking and entry fees, gas, etc., it adds up to about $400. We prepared about one-third of the candy in sandwich bags with five pieces and a copy of the Pledge, stapled neatly shut. This is very handy for family groups. It takes more time to prepare ahead of time, but makes it easier to reach more people in a shorter period when you're actually out there.
Donna made two candy cases out of clear plastic sweater boxes ($4 each). She used shoestrings to attach duffel bag straps to the sides (you need a box with some kind of holes in the sides) and taped signs to the front that said "Free Candy. Take the Pure Love Pledge." We strapped these around our waists and became mobile blessing distributors. Both our hands were free to hand out the single candies, cards, and bagged candies. We also wore our white blessing tee-shirts with the Family Federation logo. We approached people and said, "Pure Love Pledge" or "free candy" or "here's something for you" or "a free gift for your family" or just "here," and put it in their hand. Don't ask them, just give it to them. Father says to give the blessing unconditionally so it's not the time to argue or discuss; just be a channel for heaven's love.
If people asked why I was doing it, I explained that I have an 11-year-old daughter and I want her to grow up with pure love. No one can argue with this, and when I point out my wife and daughter are here with me doing this they are greatly impressed and grateful.
A big bonus to doing this providential activity has been seeing our daughter, Hannah do it. It's not easy for her to approach a stranger but she unites very well. She has already the kind of experiences we had 25 years ago, such as meeting good people who praise the activity, as well as the blasé and the negative. At the beach she met an "only through Jesus" lady who talked on and on, then read the Pledge and agreed it must be from the Lord. Sadly, she also met a young woman who read the Pledge and then said "oops, too late for me." She's learning about people's characters. The other night she said if one person refuses the candy, then others around will mimic them. That was a good observation about human nature.
It really amazes me how the Blessed children understand the value of the blessing, sometimes better than us. Recently, we helped bring two vanloads of girls (about 11 to 14 years old) for a day at the beach. We blessed for about three hours then spent the rest of the time in the sun and surf. The girls were all serious and very intent. It's like a PLA activity. They felt they were genuinely giving something back to the community. Another time, one of the teens refused to stop until her basket was empty. We all waited and finally she put up her hands in triumph. What a great feeling!
We did experience some kickouts. One county fair was great; we went many times without a whisper of negativity. But at two other fairs we were quickly kicked out for "soliciting without a permit." This is another good reason to unite with the campaign quickly and not procrastinate, to do it before Satan's world figures out a way to interfere.
People's reactions were mixed, although most were very positive. More people were negative to the idea of eating candy than to the Pledge. At Camden Yards, a young couple approached me and said, "We're getting married next month and we're both virgins. I thought you'd like to know that." That's not the sort of thing a person tells a stranger, but spirit world is hungry to find righteous people. It's like they were drawn to a channel to say, "Heavenly Father, we haven't abandoned you."
A few people read the Pledge and gave it back. Several people have called us and want to learn more about pure love. We've met people who remembered us from other events. I've even given it to people who "looked" gay and even they praised our efforts to help young people. If that it isn't an endorsement, I don't know what is.
At first it was difficult to get started and we all had butterflies in our stomachs, but we always prepared the product well, prayed, set a time goal, and went out with a good spirit. Sometimes our concepts were challenged. For example, we'd been told to stick to the boardwalks at the beach and not go down onto the beach itself because it's hard to walk in the sand, people see you coming, they're sleeping, etc. So Donna and I stayed on the boardwalk until we seemed to run out of people. Then we looked unwillingly at the sand that looked so hot but where there were so many more people. We had to try it, and — guess what? — it was even better! The acceptance rate was far higher then anywhere else.
In a sense, blessing is like fundraising. We have to live our faith and believe God is with us. On the last day, my sign kept blowing away. I was locked into a concept that people wouldn't take candy from a stranger. (Is there a maxim more pounded into our heads than, "don't take candy from a stranger?") Anyway, I kept going without the sign and found it really didn't matter. People responded whether they saw the sign for free candy or not. Afterall, I told myself, "I'm not promoting candy, I'm giving the blessing." Also, it's important not to have concepts about who you think will receive the Pledge and candy. Once you start choosing to give them to the people you think are "easy" and passing by the ones you think will reject, then Satan wins. The blessing is for everyone.
Thank you, True Parents, for allowing my family to participate in this heavenly activity.
Bill and Donna Selig were blessed at MSG in 1982. They live in Rockville, Maryland, with their almost 12-year-old daughter, Hannah.