Today's World Problems and Unification Thought

Sang Hun Lee
Unification Thought Institute


As the Honorary Chairman of Committee 6 of ICUS XVIII, I sincerely welcome all of you professors and scholars participating in this Committee. I especially express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Richard Rubenstein as the Organizing Chairman for guiding the various preparations for this Committe meeting, to the speakers who prepared papers, and to the discussants who prepared responses, for their hard work.

Please permit the time for a short speech, as one of those who have been engaged in the research of Unification Thought, in relation to the theme of this Committee. The title of my speech is "Today's World Problems and Unification Thought." This is a title that has something in common with the theme of ICUS XVIII as a whole, "Absolute Values and the Assessment of the Contemporary World."


1. The World in a Period of Great Changes

In the past few years, the world has undergone great historical changes. The collapse of Communism in the Eastern European nations, the virtual renunciation of Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet Union, the unification of East and West Germany have all been realized, putting an end to the cold war between East and West, which had lasted over forty years. And now, as symbolized by the unification of Europe, which is close at hand, humankind is awaiting the realization of its long-cherished desire: the world of one family.

Yet, the Gulf War, which erupted all of a sudden, remains vivid in our memory. In addition, the socialist nations that have left behind the ideal of communism are now facing crises due to economic bankruptcy and nationalistic conflicts, having lost a clear direction to take. While advanced nations are prospering, 20 million people in Africa are facing starvation. In addition, the collapse of sexual morality and the breakdown of the family are becoming more and more serious on the global level. Unless these problems are solved, it will be impossible to realize the ideal of humankind.

However, none of the religions or philosophies up until today have succeeded in radically solving these problems. Communism, also, aimed at realizing a free and affluent utopia on earth, but, after all, has failed to realize that ideal.

Today, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon is radically solving these problems and promoting the Unification Movement, aimed at realizing a society of all mankind living together and prospering together: the world of one family in a global village. Great expectations are being placed on the Unification Movement as a new philosophy that can realize a unified world transcending capitalism and socialism.

Next, out of the many problems facing the world, I will pick up national problems, religious problems, the problem of Communism, the North-South problem, and ethical problems; then I will introduce a brief discussion on how the Unification Movement plans to solve these problems. In addition, I will refer to the role of Unification Thought, the philosophy of the Unification Movement.

2. National and Religious Conflicts

At present, in Yugoslavia, the republics of Slovenia and Croatia, and the Federal army centered on Serbia have clashed, and a critical situation continues. In the Soviet Union as well, the three Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which had long been oppressed, took the lead in seeking independence from the Soviet Union with the start of Perestroika. In the Gulf War, Iraq surrendered to the multi-national army, but at the same time the hardships of the Kurds in Iraq attracted the attention of the world. These are only a few examples. There are actually many other national conflicts all over the world. What is making these national conflicts even more serious is the continued existence of religious conflicts. In the Gulf War, the religious conflict between the Arabs and Israel cast its big shadow. In this way, conflicts are occurring all over the world with national and religious conflicts intertwined in a complex way.

When we turn our eyes to Asia, Korea and Japan are in a unique relationship. Japan is the most advanced nation in Asia, a champion who early on took in Western civilization and digested it, and has now come to surpass the Western world economically. However, Japan is also an aggressor who once invaded and ruled other Asian nations, and in Korea, China and the Philippines the tendency to distrust Japan due to resentment and wariness toward Japan still persists strongly. Therefore, if friendly relations are truly established between Korea and Japan in light of their past distrustful relations, then it will become a model for solving national conflicts in the world.

Therefore, this is the very moment when a unifying philosophy must appear through which nationalities can become reconciled, and religions can become reconciled. The Unification Movement is advocating a universal philosophy of love that can unify religions and existing philosophies. It aims, first, at the realization of regional communities (an Asian community, for example), and then at the realization of the world of one family in a global village.

3. The Problem of Communism

In the Soviet Union and East European nations, Marxism-Leninism has virtually collapsed. Their economies are now bankrupt. In the Soviet Union, national conflicts and conflicts between the reformists and conservatives are growing. A few days ago, the conservative hardliners finally even staged a coup d'etat. Thus, President Gorbachev's Perestroika is under severe trial.

At present, the Soviet Union is longing for economic assistance from the Western nations. However, there are some people who compare the Soviet economy to a black hole. This means that no matter how much assistance they may give, they can hardly expect it to have any effect.

The root cause of these ills in the Soviet economy lies mainly in the people's way of thinking, which is patterned after Marx's "Capital." It has been deeply ingrained. According to "Capital," the value of a commodity is determined by the labor time required to produce it. From that thesis, no idea of serving the consumers emerges. The thesis that the process of distribution gives rise to no new value creates the tendency to attach little importance to distribution. Also, the thesis that machinery and other equipment produce no new value gives rise to a decisive lag in technological innovation. Ultimately, unless the Soviet Union accepts a new philosophy and economics that replaces "Capital," it will be difficult to fundamentally reconstruct its economy. This is not only true in the Soviet Union, but the same can be said about all Eastern European nations and China as well.

As you may know, Rev. Moon established the International Federation for Victory over Communism twenty years ago, and has taken the lead in opposing Communism ever since. However, the Soviet Union today has come to accept Rev. Moon. The decisive moment in this change was the meeting between Rev. Moon and President Gorbachev on the occasion of the Eleventh World Media Conference held in Moscow in April 1990. Why did President Gorbachev welcome Rev. Moon, who had been long regarded as the ringleader of the enemies of communism? Before that meeting, President Gorbachev had throughly researched the Victory Over Communism movement headed by Rev. Moon. As a consequence, he found out that the Unification Movement does not mean to destroy Communist nations, but rather means to save the Soviet Union from the mistaken violence and dictatorship of Communism. That is how it was possible for such a historic meeting and conference to take place.

At the meeting with President Gorbachev, Rev. Moon made the following proposals to save the Soviet Union:

  1. The Soviet Union must accept God, and it must base itself on a new religious thought that can guide philosophy and science.
  2. Since it is not easy to change the Soviet economic system in a short period of time, the Soviet Union should offer land without charge, establish free economic zones, and invite factories from the West.
  3. Military scientific technology should be transferred to peaceful industries.

In response to these suggestions, the Soviet Union has sent many of its students, professors, statesmen and others to the United States and Japan to study the ideology of the Unification Movement advocated by Rev. Moon. By studying this philosophy, they are coming to realize for the first time why communism has failed, and what is the true philosophy that can realize the ideal world.

Now that the cold war between East and West is over, socialist nations are in the position as if they had just lost World War III, only this time called the cold war. So, just as the United States gave assistance to Germany and Japan, who lost World War II and whose lands were devasted, to help them recover, the Western nations must now give assistance to the socialist nations, whose economies are bankrupt. This is also what Rev. Moon is advocating, because it is the way leading to prosperity for all humankind.

4. The North-South Problem

At present, in Africa, twenty million peple are facing starvation, and the number of those who die of malnutrition is steadily increasing. According to a special report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in March of 1991, the six nations of Angola, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique, Somalia and Sudan are badly damaged. These countries are in such a bad situation that more lives will be lost if assistance does not come soon. On the other hand, in the advanced nations, people are eating their fill, and there are many people who indulge themselves in extravagant luxuries.

How can we solve these problems fundamentally? It is natural for the "have" nations to help the "have-not" nations, but it is not easy. So, in order to fundamentally solve the problem of food for humankind, Rev. Moon is promoting an international project to develop marine products. Especially in Africa, the marine products industry is quite backward. When this project eventually succeeds and the marine products industry is developed on a worldwide level, the food problems for all humankind, including Africa, will be solved.

In order to eliminate the economic gap between North and South, technological transfer must take place from the advanced nations to developing countries. However, today's nations cannot transcend their national interests. The advanced nations fear that the developing nations will reach the same, or even higher, level than theirs. Thus, they offer only passive assistance to developing countries.

Technological transfer to the "have-not" nations is not meant to be done by lowering the level of prosperity of the advanced nations. It is to raise the lower-level nations to the higher level. The economy of one's own country will prosper when its partners prosper. In order to equalize world technology and realize the prosperity of the whole, Rev. Moon is preparing, through the Unification Movement, to secure the most advanced technology, develop it, and offer it to the rest of the world. At the same time, he is offering a new, global-scale thought transcending the nation and the state.

5. The Collapse of Ethics and Morality

Finally, as the most fundamental problem, the issue of ethics and morality needs to be addressed. In the Euro-american nations centered on the United States extreme individualism and sexual liberation have been praised enthusiastically, but the end of the this trend is the breakdown of the family, drug abuse and AIDS. These phenomena know no limits, and are "surging" to Asia, which had its ethics and morality traditionally established. Even in socialist nations, the "nations of the discipline," the problem of immorality could not be held back.

Neither Christianity, which has been the leading ideology for the Euro-american nations, nor Marxism, which has been the leading ideology for socialist nations, have succeeded in providing a solution to the problem of the immorality of human beings.

This is a problem related to the Human Fall. The essence of this problem lies in the fact that the love between man and woman--that is, the love between husband and wife--has not become a true kind of love. From conjugal love, family ethics is established; and family ethics expands to social ethics and state ethics.

In order to prevent the immorality of human beings, and in order to realize One World Family transcending national and social prejudices and conflicts, the first consideration is for husband and wife to be united in love, making the family a garden of the flowers of love and a base of love.

True love is universal and common to all humankind. It transcends the gap between rich and poor, as well as national and racial barriers, and increases its brilliance with the passage of time. This will be possible only when we become united with the eternal, absolute love of God. Rev. Moon has promoted mass weddings under the blessing of God in order for the couples, husbands and wives, to be united in true love. When the flower of love blooms in the families that have been built up through the weddings of the Unification Church, and these families become bases of peace and happiness, then I believe that they will eventually be welcomed by the entire world.

6. The Role of Unification Thought

In order to solve the problems mentioned above, Rev. Moon has promoted the Unification Movement, and the philosophy of this movement is the Divine Principle and Unification Thought. The Divine Principle is a religious and theological doctrine; and Unification Thought is its philosophical systematization under the guidance of Rev. Moon in order to cope with various real problems.

From the Unification Thought standpoint, we see that philosophy should have not only the aspect of science, but also the aspect of practice; that is, it can be said that philosphy should have the aspect of a "universally valid system of truth that can fundamentally solve all of the problems such as those of life, history, world view, politics, economy, education, art, ethics and morality, theology, religion, and so on." In short, philosophy should be a "system of truth as a science, and at the same time a thought system that can solve real problems." In that sense, philosophy can be seen as "a pure theory and at the same time a theory of solutions (or theory of practice)."

Rev. Moon deplores the fact that today's philosophy takes little interest in real problems. Today's philosophy in the main cannot but be called philosophy for the sake of philosophy. However, this view of Unification Thought does not undercut the academic value of philosophy at all. The academic value of philosophy should be highly esteemed in any period. However, I think it is probably true that most types of philosophy today lack the aspect of practice. On the other hand, Unification Thought has solved and is still solving many real problems as the theory of practice that advances the Unification Movement, unlike traditional philosophy.

Some may have the impression that Unification Thought "puts God in too much" or asserts absoluteness too much. However, Unification Thought holds that the the reason why past religions and philosophies were powerless in solving actual problems is that the human being has lost God and has been trying to solve problems with his own power alone, without knowing God's truth and true love. Therefore, it is all the more necessary for solving the problems of man and the world to correctly understand what kind of being God is, and what His love is like.

While suffering many kinds of persecutions, Rev. Moon received revelation from God and developed the Divine Principle. The Divine Principle is not a revelation itself; it is the interpretation of the revelation by Rev. Moon himself. It is a theory, the correctness of which was ascertained by many religious founders in the spirit world, and moreover, was recognized even by God Himself. Therefore, the Divine Principle is not a mere product of the human brain at all. Unification Thought is quite identical in content with the Divine Principle, even though it may differ in some ways from the Divine Principle in the form of expression. In this sense, the Divine Principle and Unification Thought are of a different dimension from traditional philosophies.

Yet, Rev. Moon does not intend at all to propagate this thought in an absolutist or dogmatic way. He intends it to be popularized by obtaining the approval of many people after letting it undergo the research and critique of many thinkers and scholars, as many of the past scholarly works did.

The starting point of Unification Thought is God, and its logical development is deductive; as for those who are not accustomed to the deductive way of thinking, we ask them to take the teachings about the essence and atrributes of God as a hypothesis and to approve that hypothesis as a correct theory only when all of the natural and social phenomena are found to fall in line with the conclusions derived from that hypothesis. This hypothetical method has actually been very fruitful in the development of science, even until today.

It is a very great joy for me, as one of those who have engaged in the task of systematizing Rev. Moon's thought, that a Committee on Unification Thought is being held in this ICUS conference, in which world-renowned scholars gather together, and that Unification Thought is examined by those who are leaders in the various fields of philosophy. I am convinced that these discussions and critiques will be a good chance for a deeper understanding of Unification Thought on the part of the scholars gathered here and for further development of Unification Thought. I am very sure that we will have fruitful results, both in this Committee and in this ICUS conference as a whole.

Finally, let me add that the book "Explaining Unification Thought," which you have studied in preparation to take part in this Committee, was published ten years ago (1981) as a compilation of my lectures to members of the Unification Church. I am afraid you, scholars, may have found it insufficient for you to understand Unification Thought well and that you may have had some difficulty with it--and I apologize for that. However, a new text of Unification Thought is now being prepared, and I ask for your kind understanding in this matter.

This concluded my speech. Thank you.

Submitted by Paul J. Perry of the Unification Thought Institute. (