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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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.”

Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

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
Photo by Artem Podrez for Pexels

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.


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.