Creating a World of Peace - The Thought and Works of Sun Myung Moon by Joon Ho Seuk

Volume 6 - Resolving Conflict - The Life and Teachings of Reverend Sun Myung Moon [Part 5 / 7]

4. The Resolution of Conflict
A. Taking Responsibility

The stumbling block in resolving conflict is usually an unwillingness or inability to take responsibility for inappropriate behavior. In a conflict situation, rather than considering our own contribution to the problem, we focus our attention on the wrongs committed against us and expect our antagonist to change first if there is to be any resolution. More likely than not, the other side has the same thinking, and so the relationship remains mired in mutual hostility.

Each one of us stands in the position either to pass on our problems or take steps to resolve them. By not taking responsibility for our behavior, we remain trapped in the cycle of conflict. Of course, in many cases people don't take responsibility because they don't know how. Long-running conflicts may appear insoluble, and those involved can easily feel helpless to do anything. The starting point of conflict resolution is when one party acknowledges their portion of responsibility for the breakdown of harmonious relationships.

B. The Principle of Indemnity

Conflict resolution requires remedial action, practicing what Reverend Moon calls the "Principle of Indemnity." By this we mean efforts, or indemnity conditions, made to reverse the process by which the original harmony was lost. Let's make an analogy using our physical body. If we get sick, it is because something in our body has gotten out of balance. Something is not working properly.

To restore our state of health, which we would consider to be our natural state, we must follow a certain regimen of taking medicine, perhaps even being hospitalized. Somehow it seems to take more effort to restore our health than it did to lose it in the first place. And so it is in human relationships as well. If you insult somebody, to restore your relationship you have to apologize: "I'm sorry. I don't know why I said that. I didn't mean it." An apology is very simple. But sometimes it can seem to be the most difficult thing to do. Thus, we have to think seriously about how to restore broken relationships.

Exactly what is required to restore a particular relationship depends on the circumstances.

What caused the rupture? What was the extent of the damage? What was the nature of the relationship between the two sides previously? The answers to these questions will determine the kind of remedial action.

In some cases an apology would be enough, especially if it is expressed sincerely and if there had been a good relationship previously. We must remember that restitution or restoration is a matter of heart. But, if you damage someone's property, probably an apology will not be enough. If you caused an accident that destroyed another person's car, you can't just say "I'm sorry," even "I'm sincerely sorry." Something more is necessary. You have to take constructive action, e.g., repair the person's car or maybe buy him a new car. But it's not simply a matter of paying back external damages. Full reconciliation occurs when on both sides bad feelings have been resolved. We must keep trying until those feelings have been fully resolved.

Sometimes greater restitution is required.

This happens if previously we did not sincerely seek to resolve a situation, or if there have been repeated offenses. In this case our irresponsible actions made a bad situation worse so that now there are deep wounds and very little trust. To redress the situation, we have to take more remedial action, much more than we would have had to do if we had faced up to our responsibility from the beginning. To revisit the above example, if, after causing the accident, we fail to deal with the problem but instead run from the scene, then instead of just paying for damages, we will likely be required to pay an additional fine and perhaps even serve a period of time in jail. If, after all that, our heart has become contrite and we have realized our wrongdoing, it may be possible to reconcile our relationship with the person whose car we damaged.

The Meaning of Indemnity

From "Opportunity for Happiness or Unhappiness," New York, NY, March 2, 1975.

There are two meanings of indemnity. You are paying indemnity for the sake of the debt your ancestors have brought to you. And by your going through indemnity, you will free your descendants. You will have more grace ahead of you, because of what you are paying now.

When you have to pay indemnity, it is beneficial in both ways. But if you are reluctant to go through the indemnity, you will neither be able to pay the debt of your ancestors, leaving it to your descendants, nor have any happiness ahead of you.

In a statement that expresses the principle of greater indemnity, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural Address, as the Civil War still was raging: "Fondly we do hope, fervently we do pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

C. Restoration of Relationships

Fundamentally speaking, conflict occurs due to human selfishness. This is the root cause of destructive conflict. As Reverend Moon explains, selfishness represents a corruption of human nature as a result of the misuse of love at the very beginning of human history.

Through the misuse of love, human beings lost their original close relationship with the source of love: God. We became incapable of expressing God's love in our relationships with each other, inevitably bringing about conflict situations. To bring about substantial and lasting reconciliation in human relationships, we must first restore our lost relationship with God. Only then will we gain the spiritual power to restore our relationships with each other.

Recognize God's Existence

From Speech, New York, NY: May 5, 1972.

What is the main difficulty in solving worldwide problems? I think the most important challenge is clearly elucidating the fact of God's existence. The day that all humanity recognizes clearly that God exists, they will come to understand the path along which He is leading them. The world will then indeed become the peaceful world of God's ideal.

1. Restoring Our Lost Relationship with God

Restoring our lost relationship with God first of all requires recognizing our corrupt and selfish nature, and connecting with our original mind's desire to be pure and unselfish.

We must be able to recognize and divide out the good and evil within ourselves. Then, we must take steps to follow our good mind's desires and reject our evil mind's desires. In order to reestablish our connection to God, we must come to resemble God once again.

Thus, reconciliation begins by recognizing the problem within ourselves. This itself can be difficult.

We easily justify our bad behavior. But if we allow ourselves to think more deeply, we may be able to realize that actually what we said or did may not have been right. We must listen to our conscience through which God is seeking to communicate with us.

Obey Your Conscience

From "World Peace and Unification Centering on the True Love of God," North American Speaking Tour, October, 2004.

Unity between mind and body means to live in absolute obedience to the voice of the conscience. The conscience is like the root of the mind. You must listen to your conscience that arises from within your mind, and be able to modify your course of action at any time, anywhere, while remaining as clear as crystal.

Most of us have experienced times when, although we know the right thing to do, we find ourselves doing the wrong thing because we lose control of ourselves in the heat of the moment. In a conflict situation it is easy to become dominated by negative emotions.

We start to paint the other person as evil and deny his humanity. We do this when we fail to separate from the base of evil within us. In such times we need to stop and ask ourselves: "What kind of a person am I? What are my basic values? How should I act in order not to violate those values?"

Perfect Dominion over Yourself

From "God's Homeland and the Peace Kingdom Are Built on the Foundation of the Realm of His Liberation and Release," Seoul, South Korea, May 1, 2004.

As I began to pioneer the way of truth I set as my slogan, "Before seeking dominion over the universe, perfect dominion over yourself." I discovered there is only one way to resolve the conflict between mind and body, and that is "the way of true love." Unity between mind and body can be achieved only when the mind sacrifices itself for the sake of the body time and again, thus practicing "true love that lives for the sake of others."

We must be able to have self-control -- uniting our mind and body centered upon God, making a conscious decision to live according to our highest values and principles.

When we deviate, we must possess the courage to admit our mistakes in order not to repeat them. It means taking responsibility for our actions, guided by our original mind's desire to be a person of goodness. As we have said before, no one wants to believe he or she is a bad person. Deep down, each person is seeking for the way of goodness.

Become a Person of Good Character

From "World Peace and Unification Centering on the True Love of God," North American Speaking Tour, October, 2004.

The path to becoming people of character, to achieving individual maturity, lies in perfecting the harmony and unity between our mind and body. Originally, we were created to live without any inner conflict. The mind is supposed to guide the body, while the body acts in absolute obedience to the mind. Thus, mind and body were created to function in perfect harmony. However, all human beings have inherited fallen nature, as a result of the Fall of the first ancestors, Adam and Eve.

Humankind has lived in suffering because of the unavoidable conflict between mind and body that has its roots in the Fall.

By taking responsibility in this way, Reverend Moon points out that we can release ourselves from the vices of our corrupt nature and discover our original nature of goodness. When we can face ourselves honestly, admitting our shortcomings, we are on the path of personal growth and development. By working through our inner struggles, our hearts can grow. Rather than being centered upon ourselves, we develop our sensitivity and compassion towards others. We can restore our ability to love. On this foundation, we are in a position to attempt to restore our lost relationship with our adversaries.

Live by the Values of True Love

From "World Peace and Unification Centering on the True Love of God," North American Speaking Tour, October, 2004.

The only way to bring harmony and unity between mind and body is to live by the absolute values of true love. Live for the sake of others. Invest yourself with true love and forget what you have invested. Practice this, and you will perfect yourself as the owner of love. You will gain the authority of a subject in relating to others, and they will willingly submit to you in response. Unity of mind and body is impossible unless you live according to love's absolute values where you give yourself for the sake of others completely. Please discard self-centeredness. It is the root of fallen nature.

2. Restoring Lost Relationships with Others.

True reconciliation with others requires taking active steps to right the wrongs that were committed that led to a break in the relationship. Having reconciled ourselves with God, we now can recognize how our past actions may have contributed to the conflict and are ready to take responsibility to correct those actions. Specifically we must reverse our wrongful action centered upon the four aspects of our corrupted nature.

A Global Ethic of True Love

From "World Peace and Unification Centering on the True Love of God," North American Speaking Tour, October, 2004.

How can we transform this world of conflict and war into a world of harmony and unity? The only way is by practicing true love and establishing love's absolute values as a global ethic. These eternal, unchanging, unique and absolute values are the attributes of God, the owner of true love. We must inherit them as our own and live accordingly.

First, I must strive to see and love my adversary from God's viewpoint (overcoming self-centeredness). I must deny myself, my own point of view, my own feelings, and try to see things from a new perspective. Can I recognize the goodness inside of my adversary? Can I understand and even empathize with his or her feelings? How can I establish a common base with that person based upon a mutual desire for peace and harmony?.

Second, I must understand and keep my proper position, which means to take responsibility for my actions. I admit to myself and others the wrongs that I have done. I no longer justify my bad behavior by pointing out the mistakes of my adversary.

Third, I must overcome my arrogance and humble myself before my adversary. I recognize the goodness in him or her and will allow myself to receive his or her love. I will accept his or her efforts to reconcile our relationship.

I am ready to forgive.

Fourth, I must stop bad-mouthing my opponent and recruiting others to my cause to defeat him or her. Instead, I repent for my own behavior and work towards a general reconciliation of the situation, including seeking to change the antagonistic attitudes of others that I had previously helped to poison.

Revenge Is Wrong

From "Where Do We Go?" London, England, September 17, 1978.

God's strategy is not the strategy of confrontation, however. God's technique is to embrace. God's strategy is always to be persecuted, but still to grow under that persecution. When most religious people are persecuted and scattered they think that as soon as they gain enough power they will take revenge, but this is wrong. The God-centered religion must think that when it gains power and influence it will try to save the enemy and bring some happiness, blessing and fortune to the world instead of trying to avenge the injustice it received.

Reverend Moon emphasizes that for full reconciliation to occur, both sides must ultimately take responsibility by coming to the point where they both sincerely desire peace. God's will for reconciliation can be done only when human beings accomplish their portion of responsibility.

The process of reconciliation is such that one side must be willing to take the initiative -- first, reconnecting with God as the source of love, then, taking the above steps to win the heart of one's opponent. In some sense it does not really matter who is right and who is wrong. Very often it is difficult to distinguish the offender from the offended -- especially in long-running disputes.

One side must be willing to give up the claim to retaliate -- being willing to forgive even though he or she may feel justified in retaliating. Without a willingness to forgive, no reconciliation is possible. Some interpret forgiveness as a sign of weakness. In reality it is a sign of courage and strength, arising out of sincere concern for the other. Forgiveness liberates one from hatred and resentment. These feelings, though directed at another, hurt oneself far more than they damage the other. Hatred and resentment eat at one's own soul, killing the spirit. The act of forgiveness, on the other hand, frees the self from this poison. It frees the relationship to begin anew and opens the way to love.

Eliminate All Boundaries

From "The New Elimination of Boundaries and World Peace," New York City, New York, October 3, 2003.

Today, on every level, boundaries cause division and conflict. If we can eliminate all the boundaries in this world, a world of peace would inevitably come about.

In a world without boundaries, there can be no enemies. The concept of "enemy" entails the existence of boundaries.

When we love our enemies and make oneness with them, the boundaries between us will collapse. That is why God's strategy and tactic has always been "Love your enemy." There can be no greater strategy for peace than this.

In the end it comes down to love. The question is how to restore love, which is the basis for true and lasting harmony in human relationships.

Perhaps the greatest act of love is being able to love your own enemy -- to love those and to give to those who have done some harm to you. The greatest achievement is to transform your enemy into your friend and bring to an end the long-standing pattern of aggression and retaliation. It starts with believing in the other person's essential goodness even though he hurt you. He may seem to be such an evil person but deep down you believe there must be something good in him. Adopting God's parental viewpoint requires being able to look beyond a person's immediate faults and wrongdoing and believing that he can change by living up to his better nature. 

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