Messiah - My Testimony to Rev. Sun Myung Moon Volume II - Bo Hi Pak
Chapter 22 - A New Start Toward the Twenty-first Century and a New Millennium of Blessing [Part 1 of 6]
Seven Characteristics of the Twentieth Century
The twentieth century was a century of tumultuous upheaval. Between 1900 and 2000, more incredible events and historical happenings took place than in the previous two thousand years. We can also say that the period beginning in 1900 contained the final changes and revolutions required for humanity to greet the return of the Messiah and the beginning of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth -- two incredible milestones that together form the most significant event in all of human history.
Before we even think about discussing the twenty-first century, we need to have some understanding of the features and characteristics that defined the twentieth century. We can divide the essential features of the past century into seven categories:
1. A Century That Saw the Utmost Development in Technology
For example, the Wright brothers built and successfully flew the first working airplane in 1903. Today, less than a hundred years later, we can fly around the world in less than twenty-four hours. This, together with incredible developments in computer technology, has led the world to share all aspects of life within the span of a single day. We all live together in a twenty-four-hour time zone.
And that is just the beginning. During the last one hundred years, humanity developed satellites, thus stepping forth on the path of space exploration. In 1969, human beings walked on the Moon for the first time. And when they looked back toward the Earth, they saw a single, beautiful, blue orb. We realized that the Earth on which we live is actually just another shining planet, pretty much the same as the other heavenly bodies in the vast arena of space.
This led humans to realize that we are one part of a great universal community. And we caught a glimpse of the possibility that somewhere out there, among the billions of stars in the vast reaches of space, there might well be a highly developed world that has accomplished a civilization higher and greater than our own.
Thus, the twentieth century and the technological developments we made have shrunk our world to the size of single ball. We came to feel keenly for the very first time how all children of the planet Earth belong to a single family, a unit that shares a common destiny.
2. The Century Most Filled With War
The twentieth century saw more wars than any other century in history. On top of that, the scale of those wars was totally unprecedented; more people lost their lives this century than in any other. For example, in the two world wars, tragedies the like of which humanity had never seen before, estimates on the number of deaths are as high as 30.5 million. After the First and Second World Wars, a third world war began, which continued until recently. This, of course, was an ideological war, which we call the Cold War, between communism and democracy. This war was always capable of changing into a "hot" war. Of course, if the third world war had been fought as a "hot" war, it would have inevitably led to nuclear conflict, which would have brought nothing less than the destruction of humankind. Indeed, the greatest miracle of the twentieth century was the way in which the Soviet Union collapsed. The third world war came to a dramatic end with victory for the free, democratic camp, without the tragedy of nuclear holocaust. If nothing else, this is evidence of God's love and that God has no desire to seek humanity's destruction. Averting a nuclear war was the work of God.
The blood shed in the First and Second World Wars was enough to paint the planet red. Countless souls of young victims found watery graves at the bottom of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, or among tangled jungles of the South Pacific islands. The entire world shuddered at the gruesome slaughter of six million Jews, and two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, snatching away three hundred thousand innocent lives in a single fiery instant. From Korea, how many were drafted to fight or work for the Japanese war effort? How many were sacrificed as comfort women for the frontline Japanese troops?
The twentieth century washed away the history of human sin with blood. That this took place prior to the dawning of the twenty-first century was inevitable. The twentieth century became "an offering of blood" to indemnify all the past sins committed by humanity. Apart from the world wars, many other tragic conflicts took place, among them the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
3. The Century of the Rise and Fall of the USSR
This century-long offering was not solely the result of military conflict. One of the most significant features of the century was the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. In 1917, this "evil empire" -- as I see it, one of the final rages of evil in history -- came to life in Russia. Like a hungry lion on the prowl, it ravaged the globe, drenching the world in blood until finally, in 1991, it collapsed like some crippled dinosaur that had lived beyond its rightful age. So the twentieth century can also be understood as the time when humanity observed this process: the rise and demise of the supreme communist empire.
The Soviet Union was born in the Bolshevik Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin. With its naked ambition to conquer the world, the Soviet Union was a constant threat to the entire free camp. It had the whole of humanity virtually trembling in fear. But finally, after seventy-four years, it took the final step on the path of collapse and disintegration.
As the suzerain nation of the communist empire, the Soviet Union precipitated the greatest crisis in God's providential history. It triggered a state of emergency for God and God's Will. Communism is an atheistic ideology deriving from the Devil. It is the very worst ideology that humans could contrive. With the power of the sword held high and a belief that "the ends justify the means," communism set out to conquer nothing less than the world. Those who opposed the communists were treated no better than animals or garbage. Around the world, both East and West, communism's opponents became objects of merciless slaughter. Within the Soviet Union alone, the number of victims is estimated to have been sixty million.
In 1978, the well-known French magazine Le Figaro released figures that revealed worldwide communism had culled approximately 150 million victims during the previous fifty years. It makes one wonder how many victims have simply not risen to the surface yet.
One of the things that Reverend Moon has always said is that "any ideology devised by humans cannot last longer than a human lifetime." The Soviet Union lasted for seventy-four years before collapsing at the end of 1991 through a bloodless revolution, to the astonishment and relief of the entire world.
4. The Century That Forsook God
Humanity in the twentieth century deserted God. In his acceptance speech for the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1983, Solzhenitsyn made the following astute observations:
If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat [older people's explanation for the disasters in Russia]: `Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.'
The same phrase, "Men have forgotten God," Solzhenitsyn continued, is a "principal trait of the entire twentieth century."
"The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century," he said. Moreover, he added, humanity's desertion of God, together with the whirlwind of atheism, has dragged all toward a fate of self-destruction. On one hand, tens of millions of human beings are dying spiritually and mentally under state-enforced atheistic communism. This is the reality of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the West has been flooded by the deluge of secular humanism, so much so that the basic "concepts of good and evil have been ridiculed." This is the reality of the United States of America today.
Solzhenitsyn concluded that whether we call it communism or humanism, whenever we turn our back on God, the result is always the same. "Different parts of the world have followed different paths, but today they are all approaching the threshold of a common ruin."
What a clear and lucid explanation, and yet, at the same time, how frightening.
When Solzhenitsyn visited Japan in September 1982, in speeches around the country, he emphasized that without a connection to God, there was no way to stop confusion from growing around the world.
Before leaving Japan, Solzhenitsyn was interviewed by Yomiuri newspaper. Ringing out a clear warning, he said: "Right now, our entire world has a disease. Within the two systems we call America and the Soviet Union, the common factor is breakdown. ... Although the two systems are different, the cause of this breakdown is the fact that both systems have `godless humanism' as their starting point. If we do not have what is perfect and noble (God), it will not be long before the world collapses, even if the threat of communism is removed."
The words may sound a bit strong, but Solzhenitsyn made an excellent diagnosis of our situation and hit the nail on the head like no other contemporary thinker has. At this point in history, the Soviet Union has already collapsed into oblivion. All that remains to prove Solzhenitsyn right is the collapse of the Western democratic world. And the breakdown of Western civilization -- the part that bases itself on materialism and secular humanism -- is only a matter of time.
As Solzhenitsyn indicated so well, the twentieth century was a powerful period that pulled history and humanity toward the side of atheism.
In fact, the secular humanist trend started as a reaction to the compulsory spiritualism of the Middle Ages. It came to the forefront during the Renaissance era, and from that time, humanism led the Enlightenment and Rationalism, finally opening the door to our modern, scientific civilization. At least it appeared so. In retrospect, however, we can see that in reality the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Rationalism all dragged humankind further away from God and ended up leading human history toward an era of supreme humanism.
The French Revolution took place in the midst of these historical trends. Proclaiming "liberty, equality, fraternity," the French Revolution seemed to be totally justifiable as a revolt against absolute monarchy: a revolution to protect human rights. It presented itself as the hope of humankind and proclaimed a new warmhearted fraternity of men and women. In reality, however, it turned out very much to be a revolt against ecclesiastical authority, a revolt against the church, and in the end, a challenge directed against God Himself.
The freedom proclaimed by the French Revolution was in fact freedom that sought to avoid God; equality meant equality without God; and fraternity meant a superficial humanistic love that left God far away. In the end, this "love" became corrupted and degraded into a love of physical desires that sought to satisfy primarily the goals of individualistic behavior.
This humanistic trend eventually gave rise to the ideology of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel. According to their ideology, the essence of the universe was matter and God did not exist: "God is only a construct of the human mind," they said. The Communist Manifesto was published in London in February 1848.
The rise of communism was a direct challenge against God. The communist logic claimed that the salvation of humankind lay in science and that God did not exist because His presence could not be captured in a test tube or limited to a laboratory. And communism was persuasive. Shortly afterward, the communists declared war on religion, denouncing it as the opiate of the masses. They actively promoted a dictatorship of the proletariat and raised high their voices in support of the cause: "Workers of the world unite!"
Decades later, in 1917, the communist ideology became the impetus behind the Bolshevik Revolution. On the foundation of the revolution, a monolithic empire was founded in 1922. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics tool: atheistic humanism as its national ideology.
From that point on, the Soviet Union exported communist revolution around the world. At one time, even global communization fell within its grasp. When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited the United States in 1959, he declared with great exclamation: "We shall bury you!" This was the heyday of Soviet imperialism, and the unification of the world under the communist banner appeared all but inevitable.
How the fall of the Soviet Union came about I have already discussed in chapters 15 and 18. Today, the central nation of the communist empire has fallen, and international communism is ebbing like the outgoing tide. This does not mean, however, that humanism and materialism, now spread across the globe, have collapsed or even that they are retreating. In a sense, communism has simply changed clothes. It lives on today unnoticed.
Atheistic humanism, the underlying ideological current that gave birth to communism, has burrowed deeply into Western society and exerts a harmful influence. It takes the form of materialism and the all-conquering dictatorship of money. The West currently wanders in a daze of darkness. The situation is so far gone that that it would come as little surprise if fire and brimstone fell from the sky itself.
It seems for all purposes that Solzhenitsyn's prediction is close to becoming reality: "Even if communism should fall, without that noble existence (God), the collapse of \Western civilization is inevitable, unavoidable."
So can we afford to be complacent, now that the Soviet Union has fallen? Not by any means. The atheistic value system is a fearful thing, for it cuts off and abandons God. In the sea that is this world, the waves of this value system are lapping and breaking around us everywhere. Isn't it true that our world walks the path of destruction even today? If our current situation is not the so-called End of the World, then what is it? Can you not feel the judgment of God coming close? Each of us needs to grasp Solzhenitsyn's words deep in our hearts: "The result of atheism is nothing more than self-destruction."
5. The Century in Which Money and Material Things Reigned Supreme
If humanity turned its hack on God in the twentieth century, this also means that value was not properly given to God and things of a spiritual nature. Naturally, the twentieth century became an era when humankind placed the highest value on money and material possessions. You could almost say that material things were omnipotent. Love of money, love of possessions, love of power and fame -- all these came to dominate the twentieth century.
The unrestricted pursuit of pleasure was seen as something good. The measure of success became how many assets one obtained, how much power and fame one could grab. "More quickly, more conveniently, more abundantly, more pleasurably" -- this was the slogan of the twentieth century. Businesses that did not boost profits were failures. Salaries and wages always had to rise. Extravagance and luxury were symbols of success. Capitalism, the philosophy behind the economic system, drove humankind in the direction of unlimited waste and excessive consumption of the earth's natural resources.
The capitalist society, focused on money and material goods as it was, became a society based on competition as a matter of course. The world in the twentieth century was intensely competitive. Such competition naturally translates into struggle, and the principle of the struggle was to win, to get victory. What's more, to win you usually had to ruin or destroy your opponent.
In this manner, the competitive logic of capitalism became a justification for the law of the jungle, for the strong preying upon the weak. Darwin's theory of evolution came in very handy in the pursuit of the capitalist ideal and the competitive society. In the end, the twentieth century trend toward the supremacy of material became a justification for selfish and self-serving modes of behavior. The flow of the age was woven in that context, under the all-pervasive principle that "if I'm OK, everything is OK." At the end of the day, regardless of the practices employed, the one who was victorious in the great competition and who gained the most money and material wealth was the victor, the hero of the modern age.
What kind of fruit did this twentieth-century trend bear? Destruction of the earth's environment and depletion of the earth's resources, an increase in selfishness by individuals and nations, war between nations arising from the scramble to secure a lead in the competition. The naked pursuit of material gain caused a spilling of blood the likes of which history had never seen before. In the end, the drive to win in the competitive struggle and secure one's own happiness pushed humankind toward a reality that spells nothing less than the destruction of the planet.
Some scholars have likened humankind today to cells generated by cancer. Cancer cells reside in the body and reproduce themselves fiercely. They are like an advancing army that cannot be stopped or deterred. As a result, the cancer cells destroy the host in which they live, thus dying themselves. In the same way, humans, intoxicated with selfish interest, have lived in waste, extravagance, and struggle until finally, in behavior that is quite suicidal, we have driven our host organism -- the earth -- toward destruction. Indeed, the excesses of our competitive society have reached such a level that the outcome looks to be the destruction of humankind.
The twenty-first century will bring, however, a fundamental revolution in value systems. Inevitably, the time will come when the money-centered, materialistic value system of the twentieth century becomes outdated, like a remnant of a bygone era. The newly dawning social order will not be based on competition but co-existence, not exploitation but co-prosperity, not money and material values but love and values of the mind (heart). The new age will he an age of "co-existence, co-prosperity, and common cause."
Humankind will enter an era of prospering together and living in virtue and righteousness together. By "living in virtue and righteousness" I mean that people will live in accordance with God's Will. In other words, people will live in accordance with the purpose of God's creation, in such a way that they bring joy to God. (All actions directed toward fulfilling the purpose of God's creation are good, and all efforts to practice such goodness constitute righteousness.) Co-existence means living without competition; co-prosperity, not seeking just one's own happiness; and common virtue, living in accord with the purpose of God. From the ashes of twentieth-century communism and capitalism, this new ideology will emerge in the world, and all humankind will live accordingly. The starting point is the new millennium.
Next, let's take a look at the issue of selfishness. Selfishness was at the foundation of all the destructive trends that took place in the twentieth century.
Originally, God created human beings to love themselves. It says in the Bible to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39), so there is nothing wrong with loving oneself. Moreover, all created beings, including humans, have an instinctual nature for self-preservation. if living beings did not have this function, it would not take long before they all perished.
This means that humans are selfish beings from the start; we were created like that. It also means that selfishness is not, in and of itself, a bad thing, nor is it evil by nature. The real problem occurs when we do not understand what it means to "truly love oneself" or what the true way to "live for one's own sake" is. The cause is connected with ignorance. Simply put, we humans live in darkness. We do not understand this universe that God created. Even worse, we do not even understand the existence of God, nor do we understand what constitutes our own true benefit. This is where the root of the problem lies.
To use an analogy, humankind today is like the proverbial "frog in the well." [Translator's note: "A frog in a well" is a Korean saying that expresses the situation of a person who knows only his own world and is ignorant of a broader, vaster reality] Living in the dark, narrow space, the frogs consider the inside of the well to be the whole world. Inside their narrow existence, they struggle any way they can to live more comfortably than anyone else. They are totally ignorant of the world beyond and cannot even imagine that if they would just jump out of the well, they would find a world of freedom waiting there for them. So the frogs live inside their well, battered and scarred and eventually collapsing in their intense struggle for advantage and survival. This form of behavior is what I call blind or misconceived selfishness.
In the present era, humans mistakenly think that the material world -- the focus of science -- is everything. We believe that the world we can see with our eyes and feel with our hands is the whole universe. But in the whole of God's creation, this material world (what the Unification Principle calls the visible substantial world) is only one part of that whole, and is the most coarse and crude part at that. It certainly is not the essence.
Despite this fact, most people do not recognize that a more essential world exists, apart from this material world. That more essential world is the world of consciousness, what the Unification Principle calls the invisible substantial world. The world that humans live in is in fact composed of two layers or aspects, and the more essential, or core, world is the one that cannot be seen with our physical eyes. Because we are not aware of this truth and reality, we cling to a way of life that revolves around false, misconceived selfishness. Because of our ignorance, we are victims. Everyone suffers the consequences of this blind selfishness.
According to God's purpose in creating the world, human beings are designed to live after their physical death in the heavenly world of spirit for eternity. Compared with the physical world, that eternal world is both bright and beautiful beyond description. When we say that world is invisible, we refer only to our physical eyes. Once a person's spiritual eyes open, that world is completely visible. It can be heard. It can be touched. It is a real world, and using the five spiritual senses, everything in it can be experienced totally.
Compared with that spiritual world, the material world in which we currently live is rough and crude. And if we say that the spiritual world is true and real, then in that sense the world of material reality is in fact like a shadow: faint, indistinct, and uncertain.
Nevertheless, this world of physical reality has a very important role to play within God's purpose for creation. During the time we live in our physical body, we complete or perfect our true self, or spiritual self. (The Unification Principle refers to (his essential spiritual self as the spirit self.) To express this in another way, while we live our one hundred or so years in the world of material reality, we are creating the capital, the resource, by which we live our lives eternally after physical death. During my life in the physical plane, I am earning or building my own eternity. The purpose of my life on earth is to cultivate and perfect my spirit self so that I can, in the end, achieve the Kingdom of Heaven.
Accordingly, the way to live well in the eternal, spiritual world is to live for the benefit of my spirit self while I am alive in the physical world. That path is, in the true sense, the path to loving myself in the true way, and this is what I call "true selfishness."
Concretely then, what is the way to love myself truly? The answer itself is easy. To walk that path, one must live according to the two great commandments that Jesus Christ taught. The first of those commandments is to love God with all your heart, all your strength and all your will, and the second is to love your neighbor (humankind) as yourself. In the end, it all comes down to "living for others." This value system, based on seeking to live unselfishly, is what true selfishness is all about.
It is true, however, that a great many people cannot see or comprehend this way of thinking, and thus, our twentieth-century society thinks only how to benefit the body, the physical self. Generally, people think that because the body is material, the only way to benefit the body is through material things.
The result, of course, is that individual selfishness rushes into family-based selfishness, racial or ethnic selfishness, and nationalistic selfishness, like ocean waves crashing on the beach in a storm. This in turn means that there is no way for an end to individual quarrels, family-based quarrels, ethnic/racial conflicts, and national conflicts. So struggles and wars continue. All the wars in history have their cause in this misconceived, false selfishness.
The same is true for the hedonistic trends currently popular in this world. The reason people seek physical pleasure to the exclusion of all else is that they think of their lives as being limited to the hundred or so years they have on earth. if someone thinks that his time in the physical world is everything, the question of how to live that time the most pleasurably and comfortably becomes that person's whole purpose for living. It logically follows that if something can bring pleasure to the body's five senses, then nothing is off limits.
But if that person should wake from his sleep, that is, if he should break through the darkness and become aware that the hundred years of life in the physical world is nothing more than the preparation period for his true life, he cannot help thinking about how to best invest that hundred years so that he can live well and happily for eternity.
The problem is whether we want to get the best out of the one hundred years or get the best out of eternity. All of us stand at a fork in the road with these two value systems ahead of us. From the viewpoint of the latter value system, the multitudes that run headlong toward the body-based happiness and pleasure (which today's society craves) are in reality in a pitiful situation. They languish in spiritual darkness, and they suffer because of their ignorance. All are victims of this blind, misconceived selfishness.
In the twentieth century, people thought that science was omnipotent. In the next section, I want to show just how the culture of science in the twentieth century became a big factor leading so many people into a secular, humanistic way of thinking, and consequently, to the materialistic selfishness and hedonistic lifestyles that have become so prevalent.