The Words of the Otomo Family

The Identity of Those in Our Second Generation

Yuji Otomo
August 2011

In relation to the education of our children, I believe you have heard the expression "identity of the second generation." We also hear that for members of our younger generation, establishing one's identity is important. We naturally ask, What exactly is the identity of a blessed child? How should it be established? In order to answer these questions, we first need to understand the term "identity," as used in this context.

What is identity?

Identity is a term used in psychology. Erik H. Erikson (1902-1994) a student of a student of Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, was the first person to use it in this manner. Erikson treated patients with various mental disorders and "identity" was the term he used to describe the basis of mental stability. He did his research on identity.

What precisely is identity? Simply put, it is a stable sense or confidence that I am ___.

Various words might fill the blank. For instance, in my case, I am Japanese. I am a man. I am a clinical psychologist. I am an Unificationist, and so on. To establish one's identity is to have a stable sense or conviction about each one of these descriptions, and as a whole to have a stable sense of the total individual, which is "I am Yuji Otomo."

Many different aspects of identity exist. Each has a name, such as ethnic identity, sexual identity, occupational identity or religious identity. All are brought together in what is called "self-identity." When the various aspects of identity are established, the self-identity becomes stable and can also become established.

What is a blessed child's identity like? His or her identity is also a composite of a variety of aspects. No single concept can be said to represent the identity of a blessed child, but as the person gradually acquires racial identity, sexual identity professional and religious identity, all of these integrated into a whole can be called that blessed child's identity. Let's then consider what that identity is like, looking at each of the four aspects of identity that I have just named.

Racial identity of members of our second-generation

Racial identity applies to what race you are and covers one's sense of nationality. The Japanese or the Japanese race, the Koreans or the Han race, and all Americans as American citizens would apply to racial identity. I've asked second-generation members, "What country are you from?" They each answered Japan, Korea, the United States, etc. Of course, when we consider the actual race or nationality of a person, these are correct answers. However, from the viewpoint of racial identity as blessed children, I believe, that the correct sense of identity a member of our second generation should have would result in the answer, My country is Cheon Il Guk.

Racial identity is established by inheriting lineage and culture. For example, the Han race comprises people who have inherited the lineage of Koreans and acquired Korean culture. The Japanese race encompasses people who have inherited the Japanese lineage and acquired Japanese culture. If either one of these, lineage or culture, is lacking, it is difficult to maintain an identity. A typical example would be the Korean residents in Japan. Korean residents are people who came to Japan from the Korean peninsula around World War II, for various reasons. Second- and third-generation Korean-Japanese come from a Korean lineage but have acquired Japanese culture. Many are struggling, because they do not feel Japanese or Korean, and their identity is diffused. In reality, they are discriminated against in Japan. If they return to Korea, they are often bullied, and they are unable to find their place in society.

The second generation belongs to God's lineage. God does not have a country yet. God's country is Cheon Il Guk. Thus, Cheon Il Guk, which is God's homeland, would be the native land of our blessed children and their racial identity would be that of Cheon Il Guk citizens. I've stated that it is necessary to have both the lineage and cultural aspects in order to have a racial identity. The reason that those in our second generation possess God's lineage but are still unable to establish their identity as citizens of Cheon Il Guk is that they have not yet acquired the Cheon Il Guk culture completely.

Cheon Il Guk culture is the culture of heart.

Thus, they have to acquire the culture of Cheon Il Guk from now on. Just as the Jewish people, who for two thousand years after losing their nation -- while dreaming of rebuilding that nation -- preserved their lineage and culture (Judaism), the national identity of blessed children that God desires is one of people longing to build Cheon Il Guk while preserving God's lineage and culture.

Sexual identity

There are two aspects of sexual identity. Gender identity that is related to one's own sex, and a sex role identity, which guides how one should live as a man, or as a woman.

Regarding gender identity, many may think that their gender was clear from the day they were born. However, some people are not convinced about their gender identity and are conflicted. This is known as a Gender Identity Disorder (GID).

Those who have this problem are not certain about their own gender. For example, physically, one is male, but in his mind he is a woman (sometimes described as having a female brain) or vice versa. The understanding of gender identity disorder is now advancing. Nevertheless, it is difficult for those who don't have this problem to imagine what a struggle living life is for people with GID. The fact that the suicide rate for people with this disorder is several times higher than average indicates the great suffering they must go through.

Some people with such issues have heard the Principle and become members, and among the second generation, some have been diagnosed as having GID. One blessed child I met said she (or he) could not discuss the problem with anyone in the church. The first question I was asked was, "When I receive the blessing, will I be blessed to a man, or a woman? I've never been able to ask anyone this before." This individual has faith and wants to receive the blessing. You can understand that GID has nothing to do with the level of a person's faith. Because this issue is not directly related to the topic at this time, I would like to explain how to deal with it on some other occasion.

Confusion about sexual identity (GID) is a serious issue for the person himself as well as the family; however, from the standpoint of promoting the Unification movement, the confusion of identity of sex roles is more serious. One person in our second generation who works at the church headquarters in Japan said, "The second generation is being adversely influenced by feminist thought." I also feel this is true, and that probably this influence has caused greater confusion in the first generation than in the second.

As you know, feminism is the general name for the philosophy and movement advocating the elimination of sexual discrimination and promoting women's liberation. Groups exist that focus on original values such as equality between men and women, equal rights. Radical groups influenced by communist thought claim that biological differences in sex did not exist in the beginning and that the sex differences are a creation of male-centric history. These radical groups say that distinguishing between men and women is unnecessary; both should go out into society and carry similar roles within the family equally. Among blessed families, I have seen those whose image of the family is the same as these radical groups. One blessed child said, "In our family, we had two fathers and no mother." Her parents were both busy with public church work.

She said that from the time she was young, the children took turns doing the housework. When you ask blessed children how they imagine their future, they will often reply that they will go to college to acquire professional skills and that they wish to be useful to the True Family. Yet, among those in the second generation, I feel that not many have a clear image of how to live as husband or wife, as father or mother. I feel that not many of our church-related schools, even, teach how to live as a man and how to live as a woman, although they may emphasize being strong in both faith and academic studies.

The heart of the Unification movement is the True Family movement. Each blessed couple is to become a true couple and true parents that create a true family, and through doing so, true families are to multiply throughout the world. To do this, within each family we first need to reexamine the roles of husband and wife, how sons-in-law or daughters-in-law are to attend the parents, how to attend each other as spouses and how we can support and complement each other as fathers or mothers.

We need to understand the man -- woman relationship correctly and put that understanding into practice. Establishing, first, the sex role identity of blessed family members, which has become just as confused as in families outside the church, is a pressing task. Of course, this isn't to say that the pre-modern, traditional sex roles are the original sex roles.

In Jin nim has said, "True Father is the true liberator of women." A necessary first step is to study what True Father and Mother are like and to create a new culture related to the original roles of the sexes. Once these roles are understood, embodying the original sex roles is tantamount to establishing one's sex role identity.

Occupational or professional identity

Many of our children are struggling about how to live and pursue their future, which from the perspective of identity would be called occupational or professional identity. More specifically, how will they take part in society? Rather than just being about choosing an occupation or professional field, I feel this is a broader concept. In fact, it is not easy for those in our second generation to live in the secular world. Since they were children, they were taught that society is full of evil; now they have to go out into this society. They have been hearing about the ideal of restoring the entire universe; whereas, in reality, they have to face the daily grind of earning a living. After graduating from high school or college and even after getting a job in a company, they end up struggling as they see the gap between reality and the ideal that they learned in the church. Many blessed children cannot balance faith and reality and choose to remain jobless and idle.

For such people, we need to not only present the ideal but point out a way to participate in society, while seeking balance between God's will and the current reality.

Father said that after studying in Japan and looking for employment, he thought about the future providence in deciding where to seek work (in the end he decided not to take the job).

He also has said to do your best in your workplace and become masters there. We should teach that it is necessary to choose a profession or job, as Father did, based on God's will and to put the word into practice in the workplace. We should teach specific ways to do this. I can say that helping those in our second generation to establish an occupational identity is also a pressing task.

Religious identity

Religious identity refers to deciding which religion to live with and what kind of life of faith to lead. When we speak of our children's identity, we tend to think about establishing our religious identity; that is, we generally refer to it as limited to living with the Unificationist faith.

I am quite optimistic about the religious identity of those in our second generation. Compared to their other identities, in general I feel they are forming their religious identity stably. They are more convinced about the Unificationist faith than we in the first generation are, at least. They were born into God's lineage. They have attended church since childhood and have seen their parents' faith, so they have encountered God deep within themselves. They have a relationship with God that is markedly different from ours in the first generation.

Of course, blessed children that have lost the Unificationist faith do exist, and we must convey the faith to people in that situation. Nevertheless, not many of them believe the Unificationist teachings are wrong. They do have the religious identity of being Unificationists. Even if they stop going to church, dye their hair, drink, etc., they believe in God and they believe Father and Mother are the True Parents.

Why do many of them stop going to church? They dislike going to church. They have faith, but dislike the church. So they don't go to church. More accurately, they don't like their parents imposing church on them. Out of defiance of their parents, they stop attending church. One member who stopped going to church said, "I like my mother, but I don't like my Unification Church mother. When it comes to faith, she suddenly doesn't understand me, and she starts unilaterally imposing things on me.... If my mother had understood my feelings more before I started disliking the church, I would have always liked the church." She spoke with tears trickling down her face.

If parent -- child issues are resolved, the issue of religious identity will be resolved. I can say this with certainty. That is why I am not pessimistic about blessed children establishing their religious identity. I would like to take up parent -- child issues, how parents and children can more fully connect, and how parents can approach and talk with their children, in future articles.

Second-generation members' self-identity

We've touched on several types of identity and I hope you now have a clearer under# standing of what identity is. When identity in these various aspects starts to become established and one's personal image (a whole that is integrated from these) becomes stabler, we can say that self-identity has been established.

For those in our second generation, when the various individual aspects of identity (way of life, values) not limited to religious identity, are formed centered on True Parents and the word, we can say that a blessed child's true identity has been established. Thus, even if he or she has the Unificationist faith, if the person lacks self-awareness as a Cheon Il Guk citizen, or is not trying to build the original man -- woman relationship, or thinks of career and faith as totally separate entities, we cannot say that a blessed child's identity has been established.

You may have noticed by now that developing an identity centered on True Parents and the word is not just for people in our second generation. To have self-awareness as the people of Cheon Il Guk, to build the original man -- woman relationship, to integrate faith and career in a balanced manner and to acquire the true Unificationist faith is what those in our first generation must also do. In other words, the identity of a blessed child is the identity of a child of True Parents, which is what those in the first generation must also establish. When we think along these lines, we can say that there is no such thing as identity exclusively for those in the second generation. What needs to be established for the first and second generations is our identity as members; that is, as children of True Parents.

How, then, is this identity to develop? In the next article, I would like to explain the psychological mechanism for establishing identity and the method by which those in the second generation can do this as children of True Parents. 

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