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.

 

 

 


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.