by Dr Rachel Mascord, Sydney, Australia
I use to occasionally watch current affairs styles programs. Often they would run an exposé piece, thrusting the camera in the face of an individual or group, in the name of exposing some sort of immoral, unethical or unsavoury activity. The person or people being filmed inevitably looked furtive or guilty. Some would try to hide. Others would react, lashing out at cameras or sadly the camera operators. I always found those stories difficult to watch, and wondered “what would it be like to be on the receiving end of that activity? How would I handle it?” Unfortunately, last night I had the opportunity to find out for myself.
I attended Esoteric Medicine last Friday night (12th Oct 12) at Lennox Head Community Centre, run once a month by Universal Medicine and presented by Serge Benhayon. A man named David Millikan turned up unannounced and asked Serge, with whom he’d had several phone conversations, if he could go on stage and ask the audience some questions as research for a book he claims to be writing.
Serge introduced David Millikan and he took the stage. After giving us his background – he is a Minister of the Uniting Church and has a PhD. in religious philosophy, is an expert on cults and works for the police – he told us emphatically, that we are indeed members of a cult (Universal Medicine). It was a rather stunning and unexpected accusation. He then asked his first question to the audience, but it was a question that was framed in a way to make us seem foolish whatever answer we gave. It was designed to put us “on the back foot”.
There was no opening for genuine enquiry, and in fact David Millikan did not have any interest in our response because as soon as a ‘question’ was posed, some of the planted members of the film crew that had hidden in the audience produced hand-held cameras and started filming us. Additional larger television cameras and lights then appeared at the door. This was shocking; hurtfully shocking. No permission to film had been granted. There were children in the audience, and it is illegal, not to mention unethical to film people under the age of 18 without permission. Some members of the audience covered the glass door to stop the TV cameras filming us. Others moved to cover the small hand-held cameras within the room.
It made us look clandestine and defensive, as though we had something to hide, but in fact it was just a natural reaction to what was taking place without our consent.
Yet this man had walked in claiming to be interested in us as a group of people, willing to find out more about us and our choices. He came in with an agenda that he kept hidden from us. He came in to accuse, not to understand. He orchestrated for us to be filmed without permission.
The shock in the room was palpable. The sense of confusion and betrayal was strong. All of us got to feel precisely what it is like to have cameras thrust in our faces with loaded questions being fired and without being given the right of reply before another closed question was fired.
What shocked me more than anything was knowing that David Millikan is a Uniting Church Minister. Surely, as a Minister and representative of the church, he stands for a doctrine that represents love and compassion? Does this not extend beyond the confines of his church to other people who make different choices? As a student of religion he must recall the way early Christians were treated with suspicion and contempt. Yet he demonstrated a willingness to treat us with the same contempt that was directed at those early Christians who formed the foundation of the religion of which he is a senior member.
What was his true purpose in speaking to us?
Was he trying to liberate us from a cult? If that was so, I certainly did not feel liberated or supported. I felt threatened, vulnerable and hurt. I also felt used.
I am dismayed to see how the Australian Media, and people like David Millikan operate. The students of Universal Medicine are the most open, willing and loving people I have been connected to in my life. I have never met a group of people so dedicated to working with true commitment and care. No agendas, no preaching and no conversion, just a dedication to living in a way that is deeply gentle and harmonious, in a world that has virtually no gentleness, and no harmony. We were set up to look a certain way.
I would say to David Millikan, if he were willing to actually listen to me “Thank you. You have confirmed my choice to live with gentleness, openness and compassion, by showing me the exact opposite”.