To Bigotry, No Sanction, Reverend Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church
by Dr. Mose Durst
10. Our Vision of the Future
The past dozen years have been a roller-coaster ride-hurried, exuberant, wild, funny, sad, and victorious. In 1972 I joined forces with a tiny group of spiritual seekers and we have been moving forward at breakneck speed ever since. Today I feel my church stands at the threshold of new, exciting possibilities, although we remain under fire from the anti-religious movement, the press, and, more recently, from government agencies and the courts. My hope is that this book and, hopefully, more objective media reporting in the future, will help reduce the prejudice and hostility directed toward us. For, above all, we want to get on with Kingdom-building, and we have much to do. Kingdom-building, however, demands a vision of the future, while we still seem to be engulfed in darkness. James Reston, in a column for The New York Times entitled "What's Going On" (March 23, 1983), wrote:
WASHINGTON, March 22 - The Center for Defense Information is a think tank in Washington that keeps a box score on the wars, rebellions, and other violent uprisings going on in the world. Its latest report reminds us of some things we're inclined to forget:
In the last three years, six new wars have started while only two have ended-with over four million people engaged in combat.
Forty-five of the world's 164 nations are involved in these wars, and even the C. D. I. can merely estimate that the number of people killed ranges from one million to five million.
About 500,000 foreign combat troops are involved. There are ten conflicts in the Middle East/ Persian Gulf, ten more in Asia and Africa, seven in Latin America, and three in Europe. Five are conventional wars and 35 are internal guerrilla struggles.
The United States and the Soviet Union and its satellites are the major suppliers of military arms to 13 nations now at war, and in 1981, the 45 nations involved in 40 conflicts spent over $528 billion on their armed forces.
These, of course, are only rough estimates and cannot take into account the suffering of families or the loss of property, but they remind us of the madness and cost of violence in a world where half the human race is going to bed hungry every night. 1
Reston's description is similar to the image Matthew Arnold used to describe nineteenth-century Europe: ignorant armies clashing by night. The Bible tells us that a nation without a vision must perish; a world without a vision must certainly perish. Reverend Moon is above all a man with a vision of the future, and he is willing to work hard to make his vision a reality. At a time when so many people are opting for the hedonistic pleasures of the moment, Reverend Moon offers a profound vision for a sane and healthy world.
A central component of his vision is the awareness of a loving God as the creator and sustainer of the universe. If God exists, we must understand and proclaim His existence as the center of all life and meaning. A primary task of the Unification movement, then, is to unite all religious people in proclaiming the existence and significance of God. We must, as a united religious people, recognize that there are forces hostile to the idea and the existence of God, and we must analyze, critique, and counter these forces.
If atheistic materialism, Marxism-Leninism or any other type of godless dogma, is to dominate human minds, serious consequences will follow. Millions of people have been killed in nations dominated by Marxist-Leninist thought, not out of some strange aberration in the social fabric, but because of the very nature of a Godless, materialistic ideology. If people are considered merely matter in motion, then it is easy to persuade some that others do not matter much. If we believe that progress must necessarily and inevitably come through conflict, the Marxist-Leninist dialectic, then it is easy to motivate people to violence, war, and terror. Religious people must understand the nature of God if they are to comprehend the infinite value of each individual life. They must understand the purpose and principles through which God works if they are to avoid the Stalinist temptation.
The Unification movement, in its vision of the future, is dedicated to the elimination of all forms of totalitarian control over human life. With God as the center of its value system, the Unification world view celebrates the freedom of the individual who is motivated by a deep respect for human life and culture. We will continue to sponsor programs for professors, students, media, artists, fishermen, and every other profession to emphasize the need for absolute values as the reference point for any activity. In an age that has lost its clear sense of value, we are committed to a process of value commitment in open and free dialogue.
As I travel around the United States I am aware of a profound sickness that afflicts our nation. A series of articles in a Miami newspaper reveal that the drug traffic through that city will approach several billion dollars this year. The San Francisco newspapers report a new epidemic in that city: venereal disease. The New York Times runs a front page story on child abuse, while the Chicago Tribune presents a look at children of divorced parents. To repeat these themes risks losing impact, for readers have become numb to what appears to be a litany of what is all too familiar.
Rather than acquiesce in silence to the sea of troubles around us, we in the Unification movement seek to take up arms against them. We seek to revitalize the nuclear family as the atomic unit by which to bring new stability and health to the larger community. We wish to be models of mature, God-centered human beings who are public-minded and public-spirited. We seek to raise our children to be ethical people of character, virtue, and nobility, who are committed to the well-being of human civilization.
I looked at my small daughter this morning playing with my mother-in-law, who is seventy-four years old. I see my mother-in-law filled with joy as she cares for her, and I see my daughter secure in the knowledge that she is loved deeply by her grandmother. My daughter and sons see the respect we give to their grandmother, and they are learning the respect and love they must give to all older people if our civilization is to survive. Grandparents, parents, and children living in harmony at, for us in the Unification movement, a model for the larger world. It is a vision of peace that looks backward as well as forward.
Reverend Moon is very much a part of our vision of the future, for he is an example to us of a human being who is filled with moral passion in a world that is neither hot nor cold. He has taught us that the truly worthwhile life is one dedicated to the highest ideals, and that it is our responsibility as human beings to exhibit the fullness of our reason, the abundance of our creativity, and the depth of our love. "Life may be problematical," he would often say, "but we are problem-solvers. God has given us a great framework of value by which to solve problems. We must, however, make great effort, using great creativity, knowledge, and values to solve our problems."
His life is written large for most of us to see. Some are frightened that one man could seek to do so much for so many, and they are troubled. They are frightened and troubled ultimately, I believe, because they themselves are confronted with what they are and what they could be. Hans Kung, the theologian, has written that the Christian challenge is to become fully human. The human challenge, Reverend Moon believes, is to exercise fully our divine nature, especially our divine love. That is the heart of his vision of the future.
The problems that involve technology, international debt, even volunteerism are all ones that Reverend Moon sees as part of our future. However, he believes that none can be dealt with adequately unless we clarify the nature of the healthy self and the healthy society. He is asking us to approach the future by going back to basics: What is the nature of our being? What is the best way to establish peace on earth, good will toward all human beings?
When the pilgrims came to this new land aboard the Mayflower, they came with a vision of the future. It was a vision of a new Jerusalem, a land of peace and freedom where they could live in love. Aboard the Mayflower they signed a compact pledging themselves to renew their covenant with God by establishing a community of love among themselves. They knew that if they failed to fulfill their pledge, then surely God's wrath would break out against them.
Those pilgrims were not naive fools. They had experienced the corruption of religion and politics in Europe, but believed they could redeem the false with a new start. James Burns, in his prize-winning book The Vineyard of Liberty, points out that the American Revolution was a moral as well as political revolution. The American tradition, going back to the pilgrims, was at its heart a tradition of moral vision. The first generation to come of age, spiritually, after the revolution, were the transcendentalists: Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman. They, too, saw the infinite possibilities of a democratic people guided by spiritual and moral vision.
Even today, Americans are stirred when presidents like John F Kennedy or Ronald Reagan speak about this nation being guided by a Divine Providence.
Unfortunately, Americans have not yet lived up to their vision. Indians were brutally and wantonly killed, while black men, women, and children were enslaved. Today, our nation still suffers from religious bigotry and racism. To bigotry, no sanction!
In my sixteen years of college teaching I trust that I imparted substantial knowledge to my students, but the thing I could not really give them was hope in a significant vision. I feel that my present work is an extension of a long journey that began with a walk to a synagogue. It is the same walk, and it is the same search for a vision of a loving, creative community. That is really what the Unification movement is all about.
Reverend Moon has said that the purpose of the Unification Church is to wither away. There would be no need for the Unification Church if people were truly living a life of God-centered love, seeking to end the hatred of race against race, nation against nation, people against people. That is the world we are trying to build. It is the age-old vision. It is the vision of God, and it is the vision of every decent human being.
What do we want? We want to feel healthy as human beings. We want to feel that we as individuals can enjoy our bodies and minds, and not feel the pain of guilt, or the confusion of meaningless lives. We want to live in a healthy family, we want to love our children, we want to be honored and respected by men and women. We want to know that our wives and our husbands are faithful, trusting, loyal, and beautiful human beings.
We want to live in communities where we are not afraid to walk at night. I like to take walks at three o'clock in the morning. I would like to walk even through Central Park some mornings at three o'clock.
When I arrived in New York City to assume my responsibilities as president of the church, the plane landed at 5:50 a.m. It was still dark, but I went to the Holy Ground in Central Park and prayed that I could do something for this city. I had a vision of New York as a great, big heart that had been badly hurt, violated, ruptured. I felt at that moment that my mission here was to heal that heart.
I have never met anybody who did not want peace on earth, goodwill to all human beings. For us in the Unification movement, however, peace and goodwill is not Just a question of sending a Christmas card once a year. We believe in the living Christ, and that each of us can imitate Christ. When Reverend Moon was asked, "Are you the Messiah?" he said, "Look, you be the Messiah, I'll be the Messiah, let the man next to me be the Messiah, let's all work to be the Messiah. Let's all take seriously the messianic calling, for God is looking for someone to respond to His vision .... We want to be the sons and daughters of God by sharing God's suffering, by sharing His desire, by sharing His hope, by sharing His will, and by sharing His love."
By the fruit they shall know him. Reverend Moon is a good human being. We Unificationists must show that fact by our actions. I want our church in the future to be known by what we do, more than by what we say. I want to make the world envious of our actions, and in that way let people realize that we are the hope of the future. This is the basic vision that we can give to the world. It is a classic vision, but it is one that must be given to every generation. Every generation feels the impulse of hope. Every generation so far has had that impulse crushed. However, we understand the meaning of the fall of man; it represents a loss of hope, a falling away of trust, a falling away from innocence. What we want to do is to recreate innocence in a world of experience. We want to embrace the world as it is, not to curse it, but to bless it. That is our hope for the future. We want to bring forth light from where there is darkness, to work rather than sit still lamenting the fate of the world. That is our great task, our great mission, and our great challenge as a church here in America, and as a movement, as a people throughout the world. For, after all, when all the churches are forgotten, there is only one human family, if we can make it a family.
1. James Reston "What's Going On," Copyright 1983 by The New York Times Company, reprinted by permission.
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