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Grand Opening Speech
Dr. Joni Ginsberg, Executive Director of The Way to Happiness Foundation International
Thank you very much.
And thank you for being here with us this evening.
I know I speak for all the staff and volunteers when I say this is an extremely important moment for us all.
It is especially significant for me, personally, for The Way to Happiness has been an integral part of my life for years as a mother, as a doctor, business owner, and as part of this organization.
The need for The Way to Happiness is great, and the reminders are with us every day.
We live in a world where wars rage on four continents, some now in their third decade of conflict.
It is a world where even schoolyards become crime scenes, 16,000 times a day in the United States alone.
Where efforts to prevent misconduct and deal with its consequences now consume an incredible amount of money and energy – and at a time when almost every state budget item faces cuts there is one budget item that gets a raise… a 40 million dollar increase for prisons!
And yet this is also a world where we must survive personally, somehow raise our children -- and give them a fair chance at success and happiness.
There is a way.
There is a road.
There are answers.
And they are in the 21 precepts of The Way to Happiness book.
They can be learned and applied by anyone of any race, color, religion or ethnicity, in any and every conceivable setting.
And that's exactly as it was intended.
In 1980, L. Ron Hubbard saw a society where once traditional values had been broken yet not replaced.
The time-honored moral codes supplied by religion were being turned away, even banned from school classrooms by court order.
Populations were taught that a high moral standard was an outmoded concept.
As a result, those populations faced the highest increase in crime in a decade, across the boards of every index of criminal conduct, from robbery to assault.
Against that backdrop, he wrote, "What if one were to put out a nonreligious moral code?
"One that would be popular and could be kept. One that would increase the survival potential of the individual amongst his fellows."
And so he wrote The Way to Happiness book.
Every one of its precepts marks the edge of a road of better survival and happiness for the individual and his fellows.
They are grounded in logic and common sense, written for application.
By that I mean that when it calls for one to abstain from harmful drugs, it isn't "on principle," but because the road to happiness cannot be walked by one incapable of experiencing the true joys of living.
One is counseled to be faithful to a spouse or partner – not arbitrarily, but because relationships and families shatter in the face of infidelity.
And one is advised to set a good example, because everyone is important and in some way influences others.
For as Mr. Hubbard explains, "The pebble, dropped in a pool, can make ripples to the furthest shore."
More than two decades later, the effects of this book have rippled out very far and wide.
For just a sense of what I mean --
There is a school in Nashville where teachers ran a "Set a Good Example" contest based on every one of the precepts and acts of violence reduced by 80 percent, while academic performance improved by 77 percent.
There are neighborhoods in Cincinnati, Ohio, once torn by riots, where Protestant ministers and parish members distributed The Way to Happiness from home to home for 10 consecutive nights and crime and shootings plummeted to zero.
And there is a team that provided workshops on The Way to Happiness book to more than 450,000 members of warring factions in Central Africa. And not to minimize the efforts of a lot of good people who worked very hard for peace in their own nations -- but when those teams were done the nations of Congo and Rwanda signed a peace agreement ending decades of conflict.
What began with one man's humanity and compassion, and one simple but powerful book, is now reflected in 61 million copies circulated in 43 languages, distributed across 92 nations, endorsed and adopted by more than 2,000 civic organizations and governments.
Our "Set A Good Example" contest alone has reached into more than 12,000 schools and into the lives of 12 million students.
Yet almost all we have so far accomplished has been one-on-one, hand-to-hand, and community to community, by volunteers at ground level.
Never has there been a central "hub" for this network:
• A place where staff and volunteers can be trained for regional chapters.
• Where international public information campaigns on The Way to Happiness can be formulated and moved out to the world.
• Where anyone can walk in and see the scope of The Way to Happiness and its results.
• Where copies of the book can be printed in any language, with covers customized for the needs of any organization, whether a bank, a business, or a government.
As you'll see tonight, our new headquarters house a state-of-the-art print-on-demand facility, where we'll produce the book in quantities as small as a hundred and up to hundreds of thousands.
In every case, we will tailor the booklet with a custom cover for that organization or even to mark a special occasion, conference or graduation, such as the commemorative editions we produced for this event.
We've already produced books for financial institutions, city and state agencies, and private enterprises like the Coca-Cola Corporation.
We want everyone to use this book and benefit from it, just as it was intended.
And that's why we provide this service, so you can make The Way to Happiness uniquely yours.
That is what this new facility provides, and that is why tonight is a turning point for The Way to Happiness movement. Every day, we see what this book can do. And from this day forward, through our efforts, what it can do, will increase many fold.
For if a single book can salvage a family or a cell block, then we don't have to "imagine" what will happen when we place The Way to Happiness in every business, every community, every home.
Our commitment is to make it happen.
In conclusion, and in exactly that spirit, I'd like to leave you with this final message, from The Way to Happiness:
"The human virtues are the bright face of life itself.
"One can influence the conduct of others around him.
"Aside from personal benefit, one can take a hand, no matter how small, in beginning a new era for human relations."
Once again, I thank you for joining us today, but most of all I hope you will join us in making that new era for human relations, morality and decency come true.
Thank you very much.