Social Justice and the Headwing Perspective

Since George Floyd’s tragic death in May at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, the United States has been experiencing societal convulsions not seen since the 1960s.

A spate of protests—violent and nonviolent—have caused great distress in many American cities. The crisis has brought issues that have long plagued the nation, such as racial inequality, police brutality, poverty, and family breakdown, to the forefront of our national discourse.

Social justice activists who take a “progressive” view of politics and culture have sought answers to remedy unequal and intolerant laws and social behaviors for more than a century.

But the question remains: How will our nation finally attain justice and peace?

 ‘Social justice’ has religious origins

An Italian priest, Father Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio, coined the term “social justice” in the mid-1800s. He was of the opinion that  “legal justice,” as implemented by the State, was different from “social justice” by which people resolve conflicts and injustices without State intrusion.

Father Taparelli viewed families and churches as independent, buffering institutions that exist between the State and individuals. His distinction is important. Keeping state control at bay is vital to protect the autonomy of individuals and families and the spiritual authority of religions.

This is why the concept of “social justice” has long been part of the social creed of the Roman Catholic Church. Not surprisingly, Father Taparelli was highly suspect of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and others who believed that the State should be the primary arbiter of all aspects in seeking justice.

It should be noted that a well-functioning state prospers on foundations it cannot generate itself: healthy families.

‘Christian socialism’ and progressivism

In the early 1900s, Herbert Croly, considered the father of modern liberalism, economist Richard Ely and other Progressive Era intellectuals promoted a new paradigm for social well-being in America. Their vision was rooted in what became known as “Christian socialism.” This vision said that a strong, central government could be a “great equalizer” by enacting laws and policies that would end the “sinful and cruel” aspects of a free-market economy as imagined by the American founders.

As Ely explained: “God works through the State in carrying out His purposes more universally than any other institution…it is religious in essence…a mighty force in furthering God’s kingdom and establishing righteous relations.”

For some, the progressives’ emphasis on government control was a noble and necessary step for America to address various inequities. Others saw it as using the Almighty to invite and sanction government control and/or coercion over citizens with God-given freedoms.

Regrettably, many of the progressives’ idealistic state-sponsored solutions embraced secular humanism and Marxism. As such, their pursuit of social justice threatened the guaranteed constitutional freedoms of religion, speech, and peaceful assembly. Modern progressives still seek to achieve “social justice” through State legislation and government agency. As before, they still face strong opposition from constitutionalists, libertarians and religious believers who fear the overreach of government into matters of faith and family.

The ‘headwing’ perspective

We are left with this question: What are the better ways to end social injustice, racial strife, and economic inequality?

It is said, and I agree, that politics, by way of government agency, cannot solve problems that are spiritual and cultural in nature.

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels.

In his 2016 book, The Fractured RepublicRenewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism, political analyst Yuval Levin asserts the basis for social justice begins in “loving family attachments.” This family-based way of life believes in the equality of the entire human race and reinforces the idea that we are all God’s children.

According to Levin, such a worldview can easily “spread outward” into neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, religious communities, and even local governments, businesses, and professional affiliations. When we relate to each other as if we are members of God’s family, racism, greed, immorality, and family breakdown can be resolved.

Levin’s idea about “loving family attachments” aligns with Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon’s teaching that “ideal families” are the basis for a culture of peace.

People who are raised to be God-centered individuals, who then create families that embrace godly values, can apply these ideals in their communities and eventually the entire world can become more fair and just. This forms the basis for a moral society. This is the so-called “headwing” perspective.

The spiritual dimension of human solutions

Another key aspect of “headwing” is its recognition of both the corporeal (physical) and incorporeal (spiritual) realms. No matter how well-intentioned social justice activists, politicians, law-enforcement agencies or the general public may be about solving social problems, they cannot succeed if they ignore the spiritual dimension of our social problems.

As we build our understanding of the physical and spiritual worlds we will learn how to identify and eradicate the manifestations of “sin” in human relations. Only then can we begin to arrive at effective remedies for our societal problems.

Bending the ‘moral arc of justice’

Croly and other Progressive Era intellectuals were correct in their advocacy of a society comprised of moral and ethical people. They rationally turned to academics and government to build a fair and just nation.

Faithful people in Judeo-Christian cultures share the desire for a civilized, humanitarian society; however, they believe we must be co-creators with God in order to establish a world based on true love.

In Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s calls for nonviolent solutions for peace and justice, he often invoked the idea of “the moral arc of the universe bending towards justice.” Dr. King also warned, “We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools.”

As people with free agency we can’t realistically expect that the “moral arc of the universe” will automatically bend toward justice. But when we unite with God, develop “loving family attachments,” and practice godly virtues—such as the “Peace Starts With Me” message Mrs. Moon is advocating—we can arrive at a fair and just culture with true love as the primary virtue.

The Bible instructs that we should seek justice (Micah 6:8), thus justice is important. However, in order to be truly just we must “walk humbly with thy God.” As Rev. and Mrs. Moon have emphasized, it is a belief in God-centered true love that is the path to justice and a culture of peace.

This article is abridged from “Reimagining Social Justice from a Headwing Perspective,” which appeared in the September 2020 issue of True Peace. http://familyfedihq.org/2020/09/true-peace-magazine-september-2020-issue/

 

 

 


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Listening and Reconciliation

It is said we have two ears and one mouth for a wise reason — “so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Thus, the question I should ask myself daily is, “How good of a listener am I?” I would like to believe that I use my ears all the time — and not just to hear myself speak! But my family, which is my “school of love,” helps me see myself more clearly.

From understanding my wife’s life story, I have realized the importance of caring for her heart. I may be listening to her, but not always thoughtfully enough. Recently, she asked me to pick up groceries on the way home. But I forgot. I observed that a simple lack of attentiveness on my part hurt her dearly, and for good reason.

She must sometimes remind me of my promise when we were first blessed in marriage. My wife had a painful childhood: Her mother abandoned her, her father passed away, and she grew up in an orphanage. On our wedding day, she said, “Don’t leave me,” and I promised I never would. Understanding that context, I now know that when I thoughtfully listen to her, when she feels understood, she can be comforted and feel happy.

Making amends to a daughter

Our family has a meeting once or twice a week — the five kids and us parents. During a recent meeting, Sarah, my daughter, complained of me not listening to her. The next morning, I went to her room and apologized. She was grateful for my having the courage and humility to seek to understand her and apologize to her, which helped greatly in healing her heart. When we seek to attentively listen to and understand another, we create an opportunity to reconnect or empathize, heart to heart.

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Attentive listening in the face of judgment and accusation can be extremely difficult. I have learned, in such situations, to stop and take an extra moment, to seek out God’s love, understand His heart and purpose, and then act accordingly.  Through attentively listening with a loving perspective, we can bring healing and reconciliation. This will lead to a broader understanding and allows the circumstances around us to naturally change for the better.

Agape love

In our country today, true dialogue with the intent of building reconciliation and new unity seems rare. We are shouting back and forth and not listening to one another. Rev. Sun Myung Moon taught me the key is to center everything on God’s “true love” or unselfish love. The term that Dr. Martin Luther King used was “agape love.” A heart of true love or agape love is essential to the challenging equation of thoughtful listening and reconciliation.

True love contains the intention of advancing unity and good will. It seeks nothing in return. When we rise to listen with love to this level, it is not because people are particularly lovable, but because we are choosing to see them from God’s viewpoint. They are God’s precious and unique son or daughter. If I do something to hurt my brother or sister, I am hurting God. True dialogue can proceed between opponents on this basis.

Praying for your persecutors

Jesus taught that you must not only have a heart of love for your family, friend, or neighbor. You must “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you… If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5: 43,44,46)  

Nelson Mandela said“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

“Crown of Glory”

Rev. Moon wrote these lines in his poem,”Crown of Glory,” at age 15:

When I doubt people, I feel pain.

When I judge people, it is unbearable.

When I hate people, there is no value to my existence.

 

Yet, if I believe, I am deceived.

If I love, I am betrayed.

Suffering and grieving tonight, my head in my hands.

Am I wrong?

 

Yes, I am wrong.

Even though we are deceived, still believe.

Though we are betrayed, still forgive.

Love completely, even those who hate you.

This is “listening” to the ultimate degree, where we seek to understand, even in the face of hatred, betrayal, and conflict. Whether it is with a wife or daughter, or those who may oppose us because they feel mistreated, misunderstood, or abandoned, our ears are given to us to listen and understand, opening a path for natural reconciliation.

Rev. Achille Acolaste is pastor of The Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community of Washington, DC (Family Federation for World Peace and Unification). He is also an engineer, working at a federal agency. He is married and the father of five children.

 

 

 


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Tuning Fork Spirituality

About fifteen years ago, my sister Gail offered this confident refutation of my “high religion” approach to spirituality: “Jim, I’ll tell you where I see God. I see God inside people, inside the people around me, inside myself.”

“Unacceptable,” I thought at the time. “That’s so humanistic and so belittling to God.”

On the other hand, this came from my sister Gail — the gifted mother of a beautiful family. And I know well that she has pursued a life of sincere, consistent, and responsible spirituality. Gail’s simple words still ring, loudly, in my ears.

So far as I know, Gail does not consider herself to be a Christian. Nevertheless, what she said does seem to have much in common with the spirituality taught by Jesus.

‘I am in the Father…’

Sitting at the table of the Last Supper, Jesus engaged in a penetrating conversation with the apostles. At one point, Phillip became exasperated with the degree of faith his master seemed to require. Across the table, he blurted out: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered Phillip, “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father….How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work.”

Jesus’ admonishment to Phillip is not so different from the wisdom I received from my sister Gail. Could the presence, the divinity, the omnipotence of God actually reside within something as limited as a human being?

Love resonates

Certainly, Jesus must have been speaking from an exclusive position? Wasn’t he a unique and special case?

In a speech in 1992, Rev. Sun Myung Moon explained that Jesus was not unique in this respect, but rather served as an example.

“Songs, dancing, and art are ways that human beings respond to God’s joy and laughter. On the other hand, without love, singing, dancing and art are to no purpose. The core of art is love. For the love of the world God comes down and resonates with us through singing, dancing, and art.”

Rev Moon’s message seems to be that God is eager and expectant to “resonate” with each one of us.

Religions have tended to view God as almighty, distinct, and perfect, detached from our messiness, our suffering, our infighting. And yet, it seems that each of us has the same potential as Jesus, the ability to “resonate” on the same wavelength with God?

With this understanding and these scriptures in mind, it is interesting to consider the analogy of a pair of tuning forks. What if we are designed to resonate with God in the same way tuning forks resonate with one another?

Consider two tuning forks of identical shape. If you strike one fork against a hard surface and then immediately hold it closely beside the other, the second tuning fork will soon resonate with the exact same frequency and tone as the first. Without touching each other, the tuning forks resonate together at the exact same vibration and, therefore, the same pitch.

Same shape, same vibration, same pitch.

Passion and meaning in life

In fact, the first book of the Bible describes God’s intention to shape us just like Him:

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”

Perhaps we are shaped to be perfect complements to God, with the potential to resonate fully with God’s love, just like a matching tuning fork! Jesus understood this essential truth and was comfortable expressing his oneness with the Father, in spite of doubters like Phillip or Thomas.

This understanding of human spirituality tells us something wonderful about natural and sought-after experiences of human life. Experiences such as:

The emotional inspiration of dance and music
The thrill and intensity of rigorous athleticism
The overwhelming power of love and sexuality
The demanding emotional intimacy of parenthood
The excitement of challenging outdoor adventure
The genius of creative design and craftsmanship

These are the types of experiences that bring passion and meaning to people’s lives. Why so? Is it because there is something “spiritual” about them? Does investment of love and creativity open a connection, in some small way, to a higher consciousness or even to God?

And so, if each of us can connect and resonate with God through dance, sports, sexuality, parenthood, or even exploring the outdoors, perhaps encountering God is not only about going to church. Perhaps it is a matter of genuinely looking for God’s vibration in every experience of our life, and even, as my sister once told me, “inside every person.”-


Now, we ask for your help. Can you contribute to our shared understanding on this topic? We invite you to “add value” (rather than just telling us you agree or disagree). Please add a reference, a counter- argument, an insight, a nuance. Combining the “Conversation Starter” (above) with selected reader comments (below), we will eventually produce and post a “White Paper” on this important topic. The author/host will review each submission for appropriateness and relevancy before posting.


“Sexual Integrity”: What Is It? And Why Do We Want It?

In recent years, we have seen startling falls from grace by major personalities – Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, and Harvey Weinstein, to name a few. Decades of productive public life were all dead-ended in an instant, due to credible allegations of sexual misbehavior.

The drama of these stories goes to the deep core of personal integrity. It also goes to something of central importance, but not well understood: sexual integrity.

What is sexual integrity?

Most of us generally understand the concept of integrity as when a person’s words and actions align. You can even go to a deeper level to say, “when a person’s thoughts and actions align.”

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If you apply this understanding to sex, you can say that practicing sexual integrity means living your sexual life in alignment with your sexual values.

Striving to live in alignment with your sexual values — that’s a worthwhile commitment, and a central component of overall personal integrity. The demands of sexual integrity are likely to include many noble commitments, such as treating the opposite sex with respect and dignity, remaining faithful in marriage, and abstaining from pornography and masturbation. We respect people who stand by such commitments.

However, most people would say that our values are relative. We develop our personal values through our life experiences, environment, and even by convenience. If we want to live a certain kind of sexual life, we may opportunistically shape our values to fit our preferences.

So, with sexual integrity, we need a more concrete, more reliable, more absolute reference point.

Integrity and purpose

Let’s start by looking at the word integrity.

My favorite understanding of integrity is that it is “a state of being whole.” When you say an object has integrity, you imply that it is an integrated, fully functioning whole. However, a four-legged chair with only three legs would be unstable or lacking integrity.

Why would we say a chair missing a leg is without integrity? It comes down to purpose: If a chair is intended to be sat on, it needs its four legs. But if you glue a three-legged chair to the wall in a fancy gallery, you could call it art because its purpose has changed.

Purpose. That’s what it boils down to. A thing has integrity when it is able to fulfill its intended purpose. And sex, my friend, has a rockin’ purpose.

The purpose of sex among animals is easy — reproduction and the perpetuation of the species. The same biological instincts are strong in people too, but we believe the purpose of sex runs much deeper for human beings.

Sex as completed oneness

Human beings are unique within God’s creation. We are “created in God’s image,” with the potential to fully manifest God’s creativity and love. The catch is that an individual is only one-half of this equation. Rev. Sun Myung Moon taught that, “Man is created for woman, and woman is created for man.” The sexual act allows masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) to come together in oneness, embodying the complete oneness of God.

Sex is meant to be the culmination of all existence, where a man and women come together in total emotional and physical oneness. In doing so, they become the full image of God, generating love, creating life, and perpetuating lineage. This is exactly why the topic of sex is so interesting, so exciting, and so centrally important.

And, engaging in sex, or completed oneness, happens to be a lot of fun.

Thus, we’ve come to understand sexual integrity as: “Living out one’s sexuality in a way that is consistent with God’s intention for sex.”

Actions that enhance or promote total oneness have integrity. Actions that disrupt or reduce the possibility of total oneness do not have integrity.

Becoming ‘majestic lovers’ to our spouses

Within this understanding of sex, it makes sense why:

  • Men and women want to appear physically attractive
  • The opposite sex seeks to be — and should be — treated with dignity and respect
  • Marriage is so significant
  • Pornography isn’t helpful
  • Marital fidelity is important
  • Monogamy is important
  • Masturbation may not be a good idea

Hopefully, this gives us a starting glimpse into how deep the topic of sexual integrity can go.

Living a life of sexual integrity goes way beyond “abstaining from negative behaviors.” There’s a creative side to sexuality that calls us to be majestic lovers of our spouses. There is also a celebratory side to sexuality, calling us to be proud, joyful, and excited in our shared adventure of marital intimacy.

We touched on some topics that warrant their own conversations, such as God’s intention for sex, the relationship between purpose and happiness, the demands of total oneness, the meaning of marriage, and how to be a majestic lover. We look forward to those conversations in the future.


Now, we ask for your help. Can you contribute to our shared understanding on this topic? We invite you to “add value” (rather than just telling us you agree or disagree). Please add a reference, a counter- argument, an insight, a nuance. Combining the “Conversation Starter” (above) with selected reader comments (below), we will eventually produce and post a “White Paper” on this important topic. The author/host will review each submission for appropriateness and relevancy before posting.


Moving Above and Beyond Polarization

In recent years, Americans have become troubled by the vivid polarization occurring in our country. This polarization is becoming rooted in our culture, sharply divided between “conservative” and “liberal.” Division in the cultural sphere drives the related political stand-off between “right wing” and “left wing.”

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Polarized views never seem to be superficial when it comes to issues such as Supreme Court nominations, abortion rights, gun control or health care reform. Our personal lives, ethnic and national backgrounds, value systems and worldviews all shape our perspectives.

Political leanings

Political conservatives seek to preserve God-given freedoms, individual rights and responsibilities, self-reliance and free markets. They believe in America’s responsibility as a beacon of freedom and strength for those in need, both at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, liberals argue for equality in the welfare of all people, especially minorities. They believe the government must play a major role in ensuring that equality, as they do not trust powerful individuals and corporations to care for the welfare of all. They seek to make social justice a priority in economic and social policy.

However, most people do not fit perfectly with only one side, right or left, conservative or liberal.

Most people see constructive ideas in both perspectives. There is also general agreement that the more radical prescriptions of either the right or left are destructive to our society.

Introducing a ‘headwing’ viewpoint
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Is it possible for a new perspective to emerge out of the left-right dichotomy? Do we agree on more than we want to admit?

And if we are not as divided as we think, is there a framework that allows us to synthesize the best ideas from both left and right into a new way forward?

We propose that there is a way to move above and beyond our present polarization.

This perspective provides a natural basis for bringing unity and shared fulfillment among people. It asks that people apply God’s love and natural law as the basis for discerning value and truth. Rev. Sun Myung Moon called this the “headwing” perspective.1

We propose that a clear “headwing perspective” will enable us to take fresh look at the vexing issues of the day such as:

  • Is the Second Amendment sacred? Or can it be reformed to serve the greater good?
  • What about U.S. border security?
  • Can we be generous and responsible in dealing with refugees?
  • Exactly where has policing gone wrong?
Applying ‘headwing’ to real life

What might be the core characteristics of a “headwing” perspective? We see seven basic principles guiding this new viewpoint:

  • Every human being has divine nature. In other words, each human life is unique and equally endowed by its Creator with profound meaning, purpose, and value. Basic freedoms and public policy should uphold, protect, and promote that divinity.

 

  • Despite having divine nature, human beings also have a contradictory nature. All scripture and most psychology fields confirm this diagnosis. Social systems must, therefore, include checks and balances, rule of law, etc., to constrain the contradictory, selfish and destructive natures within fallen humans.

 

  • The family is the primary place where — for the benefit of human civilization — people experience and nurture relationships of love, responsibility, and service. Therefore, headwing policy upholds the value, ideals, and well-being of the family.

 

  • All ecosystems in nature integrate the purpose of the individual and the purpose of the whole. The well-being of individuals and the community are coequal values. The tension between left and right generally stems from the left’s desire to support the “greater good” at the expense of individual rights and freedoms, while the right often seeks absolute individual freedom at the expense of strong communities and equal opportunities for all. “Headwing” policy integrates or balances the needs of individuals and communities for the benefit of everyone.

 

  • God has been guiding advancements in human history. The result is continuous physical, intellectual, and spiritual liberation, but this has not been equally shared by cultures and nations. All of humanity deserves to benefit from providential advancements, and public policy should, therefore, respect providence and distribute its benefits generously to all.

 

  • Ultimately, human beings alone cannot solve the world’s problems; man-made solutions alone cannot lift the weight of suffering, ignorance, and selfishness. We need to remain connected to God’s ideals. Therefore, the voice of spiritual leaders must be respected as essential to good governance.

 

  • At the same time, the idea of human responsibility must be emphasized. We cannot passively wait for miracles from heaven. As Rev. Moon stated in a speech given at the Washington Monument in 1976,  we can build the future “in God’s power, but with our own hands…” Therefore, government authority should support, not disrupt, the practice of personal creativity responsibility.

We submit these seven principles as a step toward crafting a “headwing” political ideology, and look forward to your comments!

Footnotes: 
[1] Rev. Sun Myung Moon introduced the idea of “headwing” thinking to steer Americans away from  seeing all issues from the perspective of “left” and “right.” The term
 “headwing” makes perfect sense and has deep meaning.  Birds have two wings and a head in the center. So, a “headwing” ideology would be in-between and above the two extremes of right and left. What would “above” mean?  It would be a more vertical orientation, not visible from either wing, a way of thinking guided by spiritual principles.


Now, we ask for your help. Can you contribute to our shared understanding on this topic? We invite you to “add value” (rather than just telling us you agree or disagree). Please add a reference, a counter- argument, an insight, a nuance. Combining the “Conversation Starter” (above) with selected reader comments (below), we will eventually produce and post a “White Paper” on this important topic. The author/host will review each submission for appropriateness and relevancy before posting.


What is Happiness After All?

We all want to know the future because it will affect our happiness and well-being.

Who will win the presidential election?

Is the stock market going to go up… or down?

Will I get the promotion at work that I deserve?

If we stake our happiness on future events, if we are just waiting for that better job or promotion to finally happen, then we are not going to be happy people. We must learn to find happiness in the midst of the uncertainties and disappointments of today.

Also, even if I do find happiness, is it right to be happy when there is so much suffering in the world?

Guilt-free vacations?

I enjoy going on vacations and seeing the natural beauty of the planet.  However, while I am on vacation, I can’t help but think about the people who are starving, wars that are going on, economies collapsing, children suffering, broken families.  Rather than being on vacation, perhaps there is something more I should be doing to help.   Should I abandon my job, my family, and friends and become a full-time missionary like Mother Teresa?

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Of course, I want to enjoy my vacation. But, I also want to be a responsible person. How can I balance the need to enjoy my life with the desire to relieve the suffering of others?

Four simple principles

We must each find our own answers to these challenges.  For me, as a lifelong Unificationist, there does seem to be a way to be both responsible and happy. Below are four simple principles that are fully aligned with my Unificationist spiritual values and that have helped me find a fulfilling, happy, and balanced life.

First, the essential element of any effort to improve the world is to start with God, our Creator and loving Heavenly Parent. It is easy to become distracted in today’s world with the constant bombardment of media as well as the demands of career and family.  I pray every day, asking for guidance, inspiration, and clarity. This empowers me to succeed with the projects and purposes I have undertaken. I have found that God will place me in the right place at the right time if I am open to His presence and guidance.

Second, the world is much too big for one person to change.  However, I can love and care for those in my immediate circle.  My spouse, my children, my friends, and my local community are all places where I can immediately make a difference.

In order to bring love into my relationships, it is important for me to have sincere and authentic communications. This is the work of changing the center of attention from myself to others. The bottom-line motto of the Unification Movement is “live for the sake of others.”  In order to do that, it is critical to listen to the “others” in my life and learn what they need and how I can help.  There are always more than enough needs — which are opportunities to practice love — in my family, my neighborhood, and my circle of friends.

Third, I look for ways to invest in some aspect of the world around me.  This follows another Unification motto: “Peace Starts with Me!”  I can’t solve all the world’s problems, but I can be a part of the solution.  Every one of us has unique talents, skills, and abilities.  Some can give money, some can do counseling, some can do public outreach, or serve through ministry. I find satisfaction giving financial support to a non-profit working on clean water supply for people in Africa.  I found even greater rewards by doing service projects in places like Honduras, Ecuador, Thailand, and Trinidad.

Serving needy people can also be done right in your city.  There are countless organizations working wherever you live to make life better for those less fortunate.  Pick one to start and volunteer your time.  You will experience the uplifting feeling of helping.  Be careful, as this feeling is addictive and soon you may become an extremely valuable person for God.

Fourth, partake of the beauty and pleasures of life on the earth such as nature, good food, hobbies, and friends.  Do things that you enjoy.  This principle creates the balance in my life. There is something very regenerative about spending time in nature.  It provides me with comfort and energy.  There is no hate, resentment, or anger in the forest. Greed, envy, and lust are missing from the wind and waves of a beach.

If you can find time to do the activities you love and be with people who love you, the energy needed to be a force for goodness will come to you. If all else fails, pecan pie with whipped cream should get you going again.

Sharing love makes us feel ‘happiest of all’

In a 1984 speech entitled Way of Life, Rev. Sun Myung Moon shared this advice about happiness:

What is happiness in the true sense? … You are elevated, elated, and happy when you can give to other people. … By giving and talking with other people, you feel happy….You are happy when you can give things to other people, when you can share the position, wealth, knowledge, and whatever you have that is virtuous with other people….If you can share love with each other that makes you feel happiest of all.

Since we cannot control the future, we must apply principles that enable us to find happiness in the present.  For me, this includes not only having fun and enjoyment but also contributing to those around me. Living for a higher purpose every day and living with God imbue me with a feeling of being valuable to others.  For me, this seems to be what happiness is all about.  Wow! I can live a happy life and also help God each day to build a better world.

 


Now, we ask for your help. Can you contribute to our shared understanding on this topic? We invite you to “add value” (rather than just telling us you agree or disagree). Please add a reference, a counter- argument, an insight, a nuance. Combining the “Conversation Starter” (above) with selected reader comments (below), we will eventually produce and post a “White Paper” on this important topic. The author/host will review each submission for appropriateness and relevancy before posting.


Searching for Peace

The United States is again embroiled in a social upheaval over race relations. Peace and civil discourse are difficult to find, as insults, stereotyping, and name-calling prevail. I am listening carefully, but I can’t hear a voice for a better, less unfair, more peaceful future.

Today’s turbulence reminds me of the 1960s anti-war movement, which I experienced during my first year at University of California, Santa Barbara. It was a time of widespread protest, fomented by the political and social challenges of that time.

Students protesting the Vietnam War. Image from UCLA Alumni Newsletter, October 2019.

I became disenchanted with the angry solutions offered by the protest movement and began my “search for peace.” I wanted to find a “higher truth,” a pathway that was universal and more unifying than the confrontational rhetoric of the day.

Absolute values key to peace

Rev. Sun Myung Moon explained that God has always been center stage at times of turmoil, when history has moved forward.

In a speech at a “Conference on the Unity of the Sciences,” he explained, “It can be said assuredly that the absolute value perspective is established only through religions that revere God. In other words, it can be validly claimed that no solution to today’s confusion is possible through those thoughts and philosophies which are not founded on God. It follows logically that only through God-centered religion is it possible that  mankind can be saved from confusion.”

“In history,” he added, “we have such examples as Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Each one, in its own time and place, dissolved social insecurity and confusion and, on the foundation of peace and security, brought forth a flourishing of culture. This was true of the role of Confucian culture in the Han Dynasty of China, of the role of Christian culture in Medieval Europe, and that of Islamic culture in the Saracen civilization of the Middle East.”1

In contrast to Rev. Moon’s observation that God-centered views are essential to laying the foundation for peace, we now hear people using relativistic terms, such as “my truth” and “stand in your truth” as their viewpoint. The latter perspective would appear to be the antithesis or an intentional rejection of the former.

My question is: If there is no Creator and no “higher purpose” for existence — and every person’s worldview is equally valid — is there any hope for unifying, harmonious, peaceful solutions?

I would submit that there are unifying or universal values. They are entirely natural, fully obvious, self-evident, and apply to and are equally deserved by all people.

Agape love and “true love”

These values relate to the proper order of, or the ethics of, love. Art, music, and literature tell us endlessly of the universal acceptance and appeal of “true love.” On this topic, there is little controversy across the diversity of contemporary cultures. The highest expression of “true love” is unconditional, parental, or agape love, that gives sacrificially without thought of return.

Then what is true love? Its essence is to give, to live for the sake of others and for the sake of the whole… True love gives joyfully. We find it in the joyful and loving heart of a mother who cradles her baby in her arms and nurses it at her breast… Nothing can compare to the value of true love. It has the power to dissolve the barriers fallen people have created, including national boundaries and the barriers of race and even religion.2

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Moreover, the source for understanding and learning these values can also be identified. It is the family — a formation of intimate biological and emotional bonds, designed by God to provide for our fundamental emotional and physical needs. In fact, Rev. Moon’s core theology was a profound step beyond individual freedom and individual salvation. His relentless emphasis was on the family, rather the individual, as the center of value. This is because the family is the “school of love.”

Family as the ‘school of love’

The nuclear and extended family is the natural team for the provision of both physical and spiritual prosperity. Ideally, we grow up through a sequence of love experiences in a family: first, as infants and little children, then as siblings, then as husband and wife, and finally as parents and grandparents. Learning, practicing parental or agape love is the final or highest stage of that sacred process.

Of course, families take many different forms. And, without exception, every family faces struggle and turmoil. No family is without disappointment, crisis, and heartbreak; some are seriously disadvantaged, and even abusive.

Yet the ideal of the genuinely responsible and loving family can be easily and universally understood. Therefore, the “ideal” of the family can be upheld as the universal value. No matter how imperfectly expressed, the family ideal is where the universal value of love can be found, learned, and expressed. It is the physical, emotional, and spiritual crucible for nurturing responsible love, the key ingredient for social peace and human prosperity.

Finding my way home

In the turmoil of my college years I would have never guessed that the solution to my lofty search for “higher truth” would lead me right back to the earthly roots from whence I came – my family.

I therefore chose the path of marriage and family. Together, over four decades, my wife and I brought four beautiful children into the world and raised them through adulthood. Together, we passed through the unfolding of family life, with its high emotional drama, mountain of responsibilities, and shared lessons in communication, acceptance, forgiveness, and care. Though in a microcosm, these are all key ingredients for world peace!

I applied these same requirements of love, responsibility, communication as I served and contributed in my worldly career — as CEO in business and chairman of a non-profit and a church council. My three generations of family life have made me a better contributor to the world and even to world peace — as a leader, partner, disciple, tutor, and friend. I am grateful to my parents, wife, siblings, and children for the “school of love” I attended — and to my Heavenly Father for the “curriculum” He provided.

Footnotes:

1Rev. Sun Myung Moon, “Absolute Value Perspective,” at the Unity of the Sciences Conference, November 26, 1982.
2 Rev. Sun Myung Moon, “Tenth Message of Peace,” November 26, 2006.


Now, we ask for your help. Can you contribute to our shared understanding on this topic? We invite you to “add value” (rather than just telling us you agree or disagree). Please add a reference, a counter- argument, an insight, a nuance. Combining the “Conversation Starter” (above) with selected reader comments (below), we will eventually produce and post a “White Paper” on this important topic. The author/host will review each submission for appropriateness and relevancy before posting.