The Words of the Pople Family
The annual International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) convenes distinguished scholars and scientists from around the globe and from every field of study to pursue timely and significant issues of world-wide concern. Sponsored by the International Cultural Foundation, the 9th such conference gathered 640 participants from 86 countries to discuss the theme, "Absolute Values and the Search for the Peace of Mankind," November 27-30, 1980 in Miami, Florida.
From its beginning in 1972, conference themes have developed around the search for a central standard of value. Scientific advances have resulted in pollution, populations and cities under stress, global economic inequalities and instabilities, shortages of energy and other natural resources, and the threat of nuclear disaster.
But underlying all these is a fundamental crisis of values -- the loss of confidence in traditional religious beliefs and philosophies as reliable standards of moral and ethical behavior. Conscientious people are searching for an understanding which harmonizes the diverse fields of knowledge with a guiding standard of value.
ICUS is unique in being international, interdisciplinary and concerned with the world as a whole. Few scientific and educational organizations are interested in supporting a meeting of such scope, despite a very real need.
Dr. Alexander King, co-founder of The Club of Rome, explained this need: "ICUS is the only world occasion where scholars from diverse disciplines can come together and discuss mutual interactions in their work as a multidisciplinary attack on global problems."
In 1972, approximately 50 scientists and scholars met in New York to discuss the concept of "Unified Science." Since that time, ICUS has met yearly, mostly in the United States, and has steadily increased in the number and significance of its participants. Approximately two thirds of this year's participants came from the United States and Europe. The next largest group, 76, came from Asia, followed by Latin America, 55; Africa, 44; and the Middle East, 26.
The chairman of this year's ICUS was Dr. Morton A. Kaplan, Professor of Political Science and Chairman of the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago. The scholarly papers were presented in four committees: Values and Consciousness, Change and Development, Quality of Life, and Vision and Direction of the Future.
The following titles of papers hint at the wide range of themes:
Religion and Values Happiness and the Good Life
Family Life and Family Values in a Changing Society
Secularized Schools and Family Values
The Economy and Values Protecting a Way of Life Policy and Values
Traditional Views of Change and Development
Is East-West Convergence at Hand?
The Idea of Human Progress through Material Evolution Industrialized Society and the Biosphere
Individual Responsibility in the Face of the Struggle Between Freedom and Anarchy
Language and Development Quality of Life, Self-Realization and Society The Effect of Crowding in Cities on the Quality of Life Attitudes of the Major Religions of the World to the Population Problem Biotechnology and Values Education for Moral Values in the Developing Nations Will Mankind or Technology
Determine the Future? Protection of the Individual and his Rights in Theater Nuclear Warfare
Freedom, Science and Civilization
Wealth and Society
Evening sessions centered around multidisciplinary groups which discussed multilingualism, cultural impact of science and technology, geopolitics, traditional health care systems, matrifocal families, psychic research, crime, North-South Problem, aggression, ecology, and other topics.
As in previous years, the complete proceedings will be transcribed, published and made available to participants and other interested persons. During the ICUS the Professors World Peace Academy and the Global Congress of the World's Religions met. Other projects spawned by participants in the ICUS include the African Institute for Humanistic Values and the Committee Against Racial and Religious Intolerance.
Last summer some 300 ICUS participants attended week-long Divine Principle seminars. For many of them, this year's ICUS felt like a home coming.
As an international magazine, Today's World was interested in the reactions of participants from Latin America, Africa and Asia, many of whom were attending for the first time.
Some remarked that they were not the best qualified people in their country to attend such an eminent gathering and wanted to contact the most distinguished scholars and have them attend. Others came especially in order to hear a particularly outstanding scholars and were amazed that they could sit down at the same table and talk as equals.
Scholars from nations which are at conflict reported they were delighted to be able to talk freely and form friendships, forgetting national hostilities.
Those who had attended previous conferences were observed showing new participants around. One was impressed and touched because of the good family feeling he received from the staff members, as well as the interesting and deep contents of the papers presented. Another commented that many people who attend international gatherings are more interested in sight-seeing than anything else, but she felt that the ICUS participants were more conscientious.
Some criticism focused on the small number of scholars from third world countries who gave papers or presented critiques. Others commented on the large number of participants, making it impossible for all who wanted to ask questions or make comments to have an opportunity to do so. Another participant observed that with so many scholars and so many topics of discussion in such a short time, there was no possibility of arriving at a consensus. Participants from third world countries expressed the wish for a structure for continuing regional discussions and research; thus, there was much interest in the PWPA.
One Korean professor suffered a stroke on the airplane enroute and lost the feeling in one side of his body. Despite the concern of his companions, he continued his journey because he came especially to shake Reverend Moon's hand. In the receiving line, he told him, "To see you, I almost died." Later, he reported that after shaking Reverend Moon's hand, the feeling substantially returned to his body.
To many scientists, the subject of absolute values seems foreign, and in the early ICUS gatherings, opposition was sometimes raised. However, there is a growing respect among participants for Reverend Moon's vision for ICUS and the need for values.
Each year there have been demonstrations or protests outside the meeting place, objecting to the connection with Reverend Moon. However, this year, protesters were very few in number, and, in contrast to previous years, Professor Kaplan reported that he did not receive a single letter of protest.
As the conference drew to a close, participants seemed stimulated and inspired and many expressed hopes of being invited to the 10th ICUS, to be held in Seoul, Korea in September.
Today's World interviewed a number of participants at more length about their opinions on absolute values and the possibility of an ideal world.
It is a good thing for scientists and scholars to get together. People will thus acquire positive attitudes about other peoples and other cultures, and realize that humanity is one. This is worth all the money that has been invested in this.
ICUS is a research group and a very sensitive group. People are involved in the pursuit of truth, which is God. Beauty and harmony grow, where feelings of love and interest come into focus. The most important outcome of the conference is the joining of people of the same passion, spiritual understanding and relationships, to fulfill the one goal of peace and goodwill for all mankind. This is the best gift one can ever give and receive in his lifetime.
Nobody talked about ideology, except, if you wish, the ideology of love. In such an ideology, the mind learns to feel and the heart learns to think. This environment is a spiritual renaissance. I cannot say enough good things about Reverend Moon for having made this possible.
I am very excited and delighted with this conference. Such a conference is seldom held anywhere, bringing together so many people in order to understand other men, philosophy and the need for peace. Fellowship is created. Such a conference does more than the United Nations to foster peace. Here I learn how philosophy and science are related and how they contribute to world peace.
The application of a few ideas in practice is more important than thousands of volumes in a library. As for absolute values, I would cite fellowship, which is less practiced than discussed. The example is better than the precept.
I came all the way from India to learn from you. My thinking is now service-oriented. I will carry good ideas and memories with me as I return to India, and I received much inspiration from you and your efforts in bringing people together.
For world peace to come about, I think that first of all there has to be better communication among people. There are many examples of people not talking with each other, such as the Soviets and the Americans; the Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians; black Africans and South Africans.
The second major barrier to world peace is poverty. Poverty is dehumanizing and breeds hatred and violence. People are on the periphery of hope. I have known a lot of very poor people in India and Africa who have not eaten two meals a day all their life, and who do not live more than 30 years. In my opinion, the number of such people is growing.
Third, the world needs disarmament and the reestablishment of moral rearmament. Disarmament will never succeed unless you work at the same time for moral rearmament and the establishment of right moral values.
Fourth, population control is vital in some countries such as Bangladesh and India, which are bursting at the seams.
What values are the most important? Moral rearmament, such as that practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Conferences such as ICUS can help foster moral rearmament. Increasingly, however, this is being abandoned in favor of the Marxist conception that power comes at the barrel of a gun. The bulk of my students, for instance, reject moral rearmament as being of no use. They prefer to bring about what they want through guns, citing as examples the liberation of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the survival of Israel.
Conferences like this one play a good role. I think that Reverend Moon is doing a good service in organizing such conferences.
I personally do not believe that a final outcome of overall unity of the world will be needed in order to have a better future for mankind. We do need some kind of unity, but I do not believe that it depends purely on the scientists or intellectuals.
I believe that there are three sectors of human beings who need to unify: the religious people; the scientists and intellectuals, in the broad meaning of science; and the masses. Each of these groups is presently fragmented. Further, the groups themselves have to unite -- a very difficult task.
I feel this way because I have lived with people of many different backgrounds. I have lived in five continents, and I went to Venezuela purely to live in another continent. My greatest discovery is that to understand the world, one has to learn about the real world situation, rather than just doing Intellectual exercises.
I know that there is something called absolute values, but it is not easy to identify what they are, because we look at the world through a prism and what we see is distorted. I believe that this prism, weltanschaung as the Germans say, the materialistic values imposed upon us by the West. To discover absolute values, we need to look at the world without this prism -- a virtual impossibility. Or perhaps we could find absolute values by using different weltanschaungs. The main value of ICUS is that it provides such an opportunity. Still, it is a utopian kind of task.
Another good point of this conference is that it brings together religious and intellectual people, so they can discuss the problems of the masses. Conferences which gather specialists in such different areas of study greatly help the process of communication. This is the only one of its type that I know of.
There is a need for conferences of this type, gathering together people of different nationalities, cultures, ethnic origins, historical backgrounds and academic disciplines. Here, scientists can learn how a humanistic philosopher feels and vice versa. This I feel is a hallmark of the entire proceedings. In the various sessions, controversies have arisen over methodology, but all agreed that there is a breakdown of moral standards in both developed and developing countries. People called for a reappraisal of educational systems.
As a scientist, until I am convinced otherwise, I do not think that there are absolute values. Values change from culture to culture and over different periods of time and throughout various socio-economic situations. So far, I think that most values -- even those of love, truth and honesty -- are relative. For example, I think there is a biological instinct in a mother to protect her baby, and if she lacks food to feed the baby, she may steal something. Is that good? In strict legislative terms, it may be wrong, but I think that one has to consider such questions.
Man as a human being and a divine creation, cannot be isolated from absolute values. Nevertheless, strange forces which try to destroy mankind are poisoning the human mind, directing it towards material values. Man has become diminished, being limited to material things. But in recent years, we have witnessed a rediscovery of absolute values, and today I think that in all parts of the world human beings are hungry for absolute values. Also, people in the United States are speaking of a moral rearmament, and in other parts of the world one hears of purifying society and returning man to his position as a true creation of God.
These facts profoundly prove that absolute values are essential paths that man must follow in order to be able to embrace his fellowman as his brother and for peace to reign.
With respect to this congress, it is important to clarify that science -- as well as art, culture, beauty and truth -- are paths to reach God. An abstract, atheistic science is not science; it is a messianism which puts human vices in front of the true goal. Thus, the unification of the sciences is possible only when man pursues higher ends, serving his fellowman and permitting all of us to be instruments of good. Think of how many answers and contributions a philosopher, for example, can make to a research chemist, or vice versa; it can benefit people of all different disciplines.
There is no question that there has been a continuous progress in the world, and that this progress is accelerated by scientific and technological advances, as well as by a certain expansion of the area of freedom. Freedom is ultimately the final measure of progress, and this means all forms of freedom, including religious freedom, which I consider to be the most important, as well as freedom from want and from war.
Technological and scientific development has also made the world smaller and smaller. I consider that human beings are thus getting closer and closer to each other, and that a new race of mankind is being formed which is a result of all mixtures and interactions of all races and civilizations and culture. So in spite of all the problems, I am not discouraged. Rather, I am optimistic about the future of mankind.
The most important values are those relative to freedom, which include almost all areas of human activity. In addition to those, you have other areas of human action such as religion and art, to which I attribute great importance. But in my opinion, this conference is a rather unique event in the history of the world, because of not only the very wide and diversified participation but also because there has been not even the slightest hint of imposing any type of ideology or limitation on the contribution of the participants.
The advancement of science and the great increase that has taken place in our knowledge of man and the universe has resulted in a greater role for religion. I think that as we learn more and more about the universe and man, we have come to realize our greater dependence on God.
In order to create a better international community, the most important thing is to understand the values of other peoples. Then we will realize that we share lots of the same values, and this awareness would begin to minimize hostilities among peoples and nations.
But the understanding of these shared values is not sufficient in itself. We need a group of people committed to living them and beginning the process of impacting on other people.
When you talk about peace and international security, since time immemorial there have been wars -- religious and tribal -- among nations. Policy makers do not see themselves as sharing the same universal belief system, and thus think that the only way to maintain peace is by strengthening the nation state, instead of considering the values which they share with other peoples. The lack of a shared universal value system seems to be the missing link. Another fundamental missing element is love. Without these elements, I do not see how peace can be obtained.
I have a very strong belief that mankind has a common heritage: we are all children of God. We cannot escape the fact that we have a common origin. Once we recognize this, our next step is to try to understand and use that as an instrument to achieve what has been missing for generations: the peace and serenity of mankind.
The ICUS seems to me to be the only international forum which allows for people from different backgrounds intellectually and from different nations (even nations at war with each other) to come together under one umbrella in the common search for solutions to problems that confront mankind. There is no other international institution that has this capability. If the ICUS can become permanently institutionalized, it can become more powerful in international affairs and in the search for peace than the United Nations or other regional organizations.
This has special significance for Africa, in that the ICUS has made it possible for African scholars from all over the continent and the African Diaspora to meet and discuss issues that confront them at home. There is no such forum in Africa where one can freely exchange ideas, brainstorm and think about the unthinkable in a free atmosphere. It was this possibility which made us feel the need to establish the African Institute for Humanistic Values, where scholars can meet freely to discuss ideas and plans.
Maybe it is possible to have an ideal world. At least, I think we can make it better than it is now, by sharing our ideas and our resources. After all, the earth is one planet.
I do not know if there are such things as absolute values. But I do not believe that peace depends on the attainment of absolute values on a global scale. Peace inside is more important than peace on a group, national or global scale. We should respect other peoples' differences. We do not have to convert them to our beliefs.
I do believe that one important value is working for others. I get my kicks out of that. I feel enriched, I feel I have accomplished something when I do this. It gives me a feeling of fulfillment.
I come from a country where there are many problems among economic, social, ethnic and professional groups. On an individual level, peace is possible, and perhaps on a group level as well. But peace on the national level is almost unattainable. A conference like this one can perhaps contribute to a better understanding among people, but it will not result in a peaceful world.
Regarding absolute values, one such value is love, as Reverend Moon said in his opening address. Love is possible when people know each other. If everyone could know each other, there could be universal love. The problem of racism exists, for example, because people do not know each other. However, even if everyone knows each other and thus loves each other, peace on a worldwide level still would not be possible, because of the will to power of the state.
I believe, as a diplomat, that we must work for peace. If you spread your opinion, you can contribute to peace. A professor can teach his students. A movement such as that of Reverend Moon can contribute in a religious manner. Each one desires do make the world better.
Human values are infinite. I think love is the most important value -- the love of God. Our creation was an act of love. I am a Catholic and I uphold religious values, including the bond between God and man and the importance of the family.
I am very impressed by what can be accomplished by a great idea, by a man of faith who generates ideas and sets others on fire with faith. When they are blessed by God, they produce more than what can be accomplished by other men.
Reverend Moon's starting this idea of bringing people together was an act of faith. I am greatly impressed by how those ideas have become global in their impact upon members of the global village. I am highly optimistic about the future.
What impresses me most is his concern for world peace, which is a positive venture. His ideas about families and individuals are very real, and the way he foresees that peace in families can snowball and bring about world peace is very positive. Other people begin with ideas on a national scale, but there is no nation without individuals. I am a family man myself; I believe God wants to work with families and thus began the world with a family.
Because of my training in philosophy and comparative religions, I find that openness has been a part of my nature for 21 years. The openness I have met here so far is most welcome. I find it is a pleasure to listen to Mohammedans, Hindus, Buddhists and Roman Catholics. Instead of maximizing our differences, I praise God that we can maximize our common hopes.
When we find the heavenly global village, we may be surprised to find that God accepts all of us.
Regarding absolute values, I believe in absolute love. It is a concept which we ascribe to the Almighty. We may not easily define absolute values, but we may aspire to them. We are made in the image of God. The language of mystics can embrace what we call absolute values. I think it is a worthwhile human endeavor to hope that God can enable us in some way to perceive them. If we close the door, we cannot reach them. Therefore, as Col. Pak said in his introduction to Reverend Moon, we have to look for the heavenly telephone number! But because of sin, we may not easily perceive Him. Nevertheless, as we get closer and closer to Him, we may get glimpses of absolute values.
I believe that science is God-given and that God gives us insights into Himself through science. I have had more insight- about this during the past year, through discussions with many people.
I think that the African Institute for Humanistic Values which is going to be established in Togo can go a long ways towards defining values and can enrich our insights into Western values.
If you are a scientist, you must be optimistic. There was a time when people thought you could not go to the moon. But just as we broke into space, we might break into absolute values as well. I looked at photos of Venus -- the first time the human eye has seen such things. These are great days. It would be unfortunate not to be optimistic.
Much as science and physics are exciting, other pursuits have dramatic impact as well. In 1956 one of my professors and I were so excited when Uri Gagarin went into space. But my philosophy professor was not so moved. He explained why: "I am more impressed by our ability to explore the human mind." The human mind is like outer space itself. That is why I am so moved by the ideas of Reverend Moon. He does not say so much, but what he says is so deep.