LOVING FAMILIES CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
My Wife, Hak Ja Han Moon
The first time I saw my wife, she was a young woman of fourteen who had just graduated from elementary school (sixth grade). She was a quiet girl who never raised her voice and never sought to bring attention to herself. She always took the same route to and from the church. When she was first introduced to me, I was told she was the daughter of one of our early members, Mrs. Soon Ae Hong.
"What is your name?" I asked her.
"My name is Hak Ja Han," she anwered with a clear voice.
In that moment, before I knew what was happening, I said, "So Hak Ja Han has been born in Korea!" I said this three times in repetition, and then prayed, saying, "God! Thank you for sending to Korea such a wonderful woman as Hak Ja Han." I then looked at her and said: "Hak Ja Han, I'm afraid you are going to have to do a lot of sacrificing."
All of these words came out of my mouth spontaneously. Later, Mrs. Hong told me that she thought it strange that I would say the same thing three times after meeting her daughter for the first time. My wife has told me that she also remembers that first, short meeting. She told me she remembers everything that I said then as if I had delivered a sermon just for her, and she kept it in her heart. She said she felt like she had received an important revelation about her future that she could not forget.
Her mother was from a faithful Presbyterian family, so she was raised in a Christian home. Her hometown was Jeongju, which is my hometown as well, but she had lived in Anju until coming to South Korea during the Korean War. When Mrs. Hong first began attending our church, she lived a very faithful life in Chuncheon and raised her daughter strictly. My wife attended a nursing school that was operated by the Catholic Church. I am told that the rules of this school were so strict that it was as if she were living in a convent. She had a gentle character, and during the time she was raised by her mother, she never went anywhere except to school and to our church.
I was forty at the time, and I sensed that the time had come for me to marry again. All I needed to do was wait for God to tell me, "The time has come, so get married," and I would do as I was told. Seung Do Ji, an elderly woman in our church, began an effort in October 1959 to prepare for my engagement, even though there was still no bride-to-be. Another church member who had been praying for seven years about a wife for me told me one day that she had had a dream in which she saw that Hak Ja Han was my wife.
Mrs. Ji told me about a strange dream she had. "What kind of dream is this?" she exclaimed. "I saw hundreds of cranes come flying. I tried to wave them away with my arms, but they kept coming and they finally covered you with their white feathers. Is this some kind of omen for the future?" The "Hak" in Hak Ja Han is the Chinese character for crane.
Then, Hak Ja Han herself had a dream in which I appeared and told her, "The day is near, so make preparations." My wife later told that in her dream she said to me in a humble tone, "I have been living until now in accordance with the will of God. In the future, as well, I will follow God's will as His servant, no matter what that will may be."
A few days after my bride-to-be had this dream, I asked Mrs. Hong to bring her daughter to me. This was our first meeting since she had been introduced to me at age fourteen. That day, I asked this young lady many questions. In every case, she responded with composure and spoke clearly. In this meeting, I asked my future wife to draw a picture. Without hesitation, she picked up a pencil and started drawing on a sheet of paper. When she had finished and placed her picture before me, I was very impressed by what I saw. I then looked at her face, and her shy expression was very beautiful. Her heart was as wonderful as the picture she had drawn.
We were engaged on March 27, 1960, and had our marriage ceremony barely two weeks later, on April 11. I did not set a date at the time but when I called Miss Han several days later, I told her, "Tomorrow morning, we will have a marriage ceremony." She responded simply, "Is that so?" and did not ask any questions or try to speak in opposition. She seemed entirely obedient to Heaven. That was how pure and gentle she was. Then as now, when it comes to the will of God, she has a strong determination.
At the marriage ceremony I wore a samokwandae, the formal dress of government officers that now is commonly used in traditional wedding ceremonies, and she wore traditional Korean attire that included a jokdori bridal tiara. My bride, who was then seventeen and more than twenty years younger than I, looked confident and radiant with her tightly closed lips and pretty face. During the ceremony, I told my bride that she was about to embark on a difficult course.
"I think you are already aware that marrying me will not be like any other marriage. We are becoming husband and wife to complete the mission given to us by God to become True Parents, and not to pursue the happiness of two individuals, as is the case with other people in this world. God wants to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth through a true family. You and I will travel a difficult path to become True Parents who will open the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven for others. It is a path that no one else in history has traveled, so even I don't know all that it will involve. During the next seven years, you will experience many things that will be difficult to endure. Don't forget, even for a moment, that the life we live is different from others. Don't do anything, no matter how trivial, without first discussing it with me, and obey everything I tell you."
She responded, "My heart is already set. Please do not worry."
I could see in her expression that day that she had made a strong determination. Her difficult challenges began the day after our marriage. The first difficulty she faced was that she could not see her mother as freely as before. My wife, her mother, and her maternal grandmother were all only daughters. As a result, the relationship between mother and daughter was particularly strong. In order to take on her public mission and develop the proper focus, I asked her to live what amounted to an ascetic life for three years. That meant she could not see her mother or any of her relatives for three years. She lived in a room rented from a church member. She came to the church no more than once a day, usually in the evening. So as not to create disruption, she left through the back door.
I myself was often involved in worship services or praying through the night and was rarely at home, but the separation was not for practical reasons. The separation was to establish a spiritual condition of unconditional devotion to her mission. As the outrageous rumors about me continued to circulate, this separation from her relatives and me made it even more difficult for my young wife to endure.
At the time of our marriage, the Unification Church already had been established in over one hundred twenty communities around Korea. Even in our church, however, there were those who were critical of our marriage. Some envied her, some hated her, and many stories circulated. As if that were not enough, she lived in someone else's home, while older women of our church followed me everywhere I went.
Eventually, my seemingly cold treatment of my wife brought an end to all the criticism and envy against her. In fact, people began to sympathize with her. For example, many members criticized me when I couldn't go to see my wife even though she was suffering postpartum illness and was shivering in a poorly heated room after the birth of our first daughter. Some of them said, "How can he even call himself her husband?"
"You're going too far, Sir," I was told. "If you married her, you should live with her. What are you doing, making it difficult for her even to see your face?" The people who had been criticizing my wife one by one began to take her side instead.
In spite of her young age. it was necessary that my wife receive harsh training. during the time we lived together, the pressures on her were relentless. She never had even a single free moment for herself. She constantly was on edge, as if she were walking on a thin layer of ice, wondering, "Will today be peaceful? Will tomorrow be peaceful?" Because she had to attain God's standard of motherly love, I corrected her for even a single wrong word. Sometimes even her affection for me had to be curtailed for the sake of her eternal mission. It was all necessary for her to become True Mother, but I am sure it caused much grief in her heart.
I might say a word in passing and not think much of it. She, however, had to harmonize herself with my every word, so I am sure her suffering was great. it took us seven years to conform ourselves to each other. I relate these things because the most important thing in a marriage relationship is trust. It is what makes it possible for two people to become as one.
LOVING FAMILIES CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
An Incomparable Inner Beauty
My wife and I made a promise to each other after we were married. We agreed that no matter how upset or angry one of us might become, we would not allow anyone to think, "It looks like Reverend and Mrs. Moon had a fight." We agreed that no matter how many children we might have, we would not let them see any sign that we might have had a fight. Children are God. Children are God with very small hearts. So when a child says, "Mom!" and calls, you must always answer, "What is it?" with a smile.
After going through such a harsh course for seven years, my wife became a wonderful mother. All the gossip about her disappeared, and a peaceful happiness came to our family. My wife gave birth to fourteen children, and she has embraced each one with so much love. When she is away from home on our speaking tours and mission life, she sends letters and postcards to our children every day.
While it was difficult for her to raise fourteen children over the course of over forty years, she never complained. Several times I had to be overseas when my wife was about to give birth. She had to bear such times alone. There were days when I could not do anything for her. Once a member wrote me about my wife's difficult financial situation. There was concern over whether she was getting sufficient nutrition. Even then, my wife never complained about her difficulty. Because I sleep only two or three hours a night, she has dutifully done the same throughout our life together. These sorts of matters pain me to this day.
My wife has such a tremendous heart of love and care that she even gave a special ring I bought her to someone in need. When she sees someone in need of clothes, she buys that person clothes, or gives them some of ours. When she comes across someone hungry, she buys the person a meal. There have been many times when we have received presents from others that she would give away to someone else she felt needed them more.
Once we were touring the Netherlands and had a chance to visit a factory that processed diamonds. Wanting to express my heart of regret toward my wife for all her sacrifices, I bought her a diamond ring. I didn't have much money, so I couldn't buy her a large one. I picked out one I liked and presented it to her. Later, she even gave away that ring. When I saw the ring wasn't on her finger, I asked her, "Where did the ring go?"
She answered, "You know by now I can't keep something like that when someone has a greater need."
On another occasion I saw her pulling out a large wrapping cloth, and she was working quietly to pack some clothes. "What are you going to do with those clothes?" I asked her.
"I have a use for them," she said.
She filled several wrapping cloths with clothes without telling me what she planned to do with them. When she was finished, she told me she was getting ready to send the clothes to our missionaries working in foreign countries.
"This one's for Mongolia, this one's for Africa, and this one's for Paraguay," she said. She had a slightly self-conscious smile that made her look so sweet when she told me. Still today, she takes it upon herself to look after our overseas missionaries.
My wife is the patron of the International Relief and Friendship Foundation established in 1979. It has done service projects in numerous countries, such a Congo, Senegal, and Ivory Coast. The foundation gives food to impoverished children, medicine to those who are sick, and clothing to those in need. In Korea, she created the Aewon Charity organization in 1994. Its activities include managing a canteen serving free food to the poor and supporting low-wage earners, the handicapped, children taking care of families in place of parents, and others. It also provides aid to the North Korean people.
My wife has also been active in women's organizations for some time. The Women's Federation for World Peace, which she established in 1992, has branches in some eighty countries and is in general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations as a nongovernmental organization.
Throughout history, women have been persecuted, but I predict this will change. The coming world will be one of reconciliation and peace based on women's maternal character, love , and sociability. The time is coming when the power of women will save the world.
Unfortunately today, many women's organizations apparently believe that standing in opposition to men is the way to demonstrate the power of women. The result is an environment of competition and conflict. The women's organizations my wife leads, on the other hand, seek to bring about peace on the principle that women should work together, take initiative, and empower one another across traditional lines of race, culture, and religion to create healthy families as the cornerstone of the culture of peace. The organizations she works with do not call for a liberation of women from men and families. Instead, they call for women to develop and maintain families filled with love.
My wife's dream is to see all women raised as true daughters with filial hearts who can create peace at home, in our communities, in our nations, and in the world. The women's movement being carried out by my wife serves the goal of true families, which are the root of peace in all areas of life.
During one of the most intense periods of my public work, our children had to live close to half the year without their parents. In our absence, they lived in our home, cared for by church members. Our home was always filled with church members. Every meal in our home had guests at the table, guests who always received priority over our children. Because of this environment, our children grew up with a sense of loneliness that is not experienced by children in other families. Even worse was the suffering they had to endure because of their father. Wherever they went, they were singled out as sons and daughters of "the cult leader Sun Myung Moon." This suffering sent them through periods of wandering and rebellion, but they have always returned home. We were not able to support them properly as parents, but five have graduated from Harvard University. I could not be more grateful for their courageous accomplishments. Now they are old enough to help me in my work, but even to this day, I am the strict father. I still teach them to become people who do more than I do to serve Heaven and live for the sake of humanity.
My wife is a woman of incredible strength, but the death of our second son, Heung Jin, was difficult for her. It happened in December, 1983. She was with me in Kwangju, Korea, participating in a Victory over Communism rally, when we received an international phone call that Heung Jin had been in a traffic accident and had been transported to a hospital. We boarded a flight the next day and went directly to New York, but Heung Jin was lying unconscious on the hospital bed.
A truck traveling over the speed limit as it came down a hill tried to brake and swerved into the opposite lane, where Heung Jin was driving. Two of his best friends were in the car with him at the time. Heung Jin cut the wheel to the right so the driver's side took most of the impact from the truck. By doing so, he saved the lives of his two friends. I went to the place near our home where the accident had occurred, and the black tire marks veering off to the right were still visible.
Heung Jin finally went to the heavenly world in the early morning of January 2. He had turned seventeen just a month before.
Words cannot describe my wife's sorrow when she had to send a child she had raised with love to the heavenly world before her. She could not cry, however. In fact, it was important that she not shed any tears. We are people who know the world of the eternal spirit. A person's spirit does not disappear like so much dust, just because the physical life is lost. The soul ascends to the world of spriit. As parents, the pain of knowing that we would never be able to see or touch our beloved child in this world was almost unbearable. My wife could not cry; she could only lovingly put her hands on the hearse that carried Heung Jin's body.
This tragic accident occurred as we planned for the betrothal of Heung Jin to Hoon Sook Pak, who was studying ballet. I had to speak to Hoon Sook about his departure from this world and find out from her what she wanted to do. I told her I knew it wouldn't be easy or fair to her parents if she chose to go ahead with such a marriage. I told her it was best to forget the betrothal. Hoon Sook was adamant, however. "I am aware of the existence of the spirit world," she said. "Please let me spend my life with Heung Jin." In the end, Hoon Sook became our daughter-in-law fifty days after Heung Jin's departure. My wife and I will never forget her bright smile as she was accompanied by a framed photograph of Heung Jin throughout the spiritual marriage ceremony.
It would seem that my wife would be devastated each time she faced such difficult situations, but she always remained unshaken. Even in the most difficult and unbearable circumstances, my wife never lost her serene smile. She always crossed over life's most difficult peaks successfully. When church members ask my wife's advice on raising their own children, she tells them: "Be patient and wait. The period when children wander is only temporary. No matter what they do, embrace them, love them, and wait for them. Children will always return to the love of their parents."
I have never raised my voice toward my wife. This is not because of my character, but because my wife has never given me cause to do so. Throughout our life together, she has labored to care for me with complete, loving devotion. She is even the one to care for my hair. So this great saint of world affairs is also the best barber in the world. Now that I am old I make many new demands on her, and she always responds. If I ask her to cut my toenails, she will do it cheerfully. My toenails are mine, but I can't see them very well. She sees them perfectly well, though. It's a strange thing. The older I become, the more precious my wife is to me.
LOVING FAMILIES CHANGE THE WORLD
Promises that Must Never Be Broken
During our matching and marriage ceremonies, I ask the brides and grooms to make promises to each other that must never be broken. First, a husband and wife must always trust and love each other. Second, they must not cause any pain to the heart of their partner. Third, they must educate their children and grandchildren to maintain sexual purity. Fourth, all members of their family must help and encourage each other so that they become a true ideal family. Chastity before marriage and fidelity in marriage are of utmost importance. This is what I teach so people can live to their highest potential as human beings, creating and maintaining healthy families.
Marriage is more than a simple coming together of a man and woman. It is a precious ceremony of commitment to carry on God's work of creation. Marriage is the path by which a man and woman become as one, create new life, and establish true love. Through marriage, a new future is created: Societies are formed, nations are built. God's world of peace is realized with married families at the center. It is in the family that God's Kingdom of Heaven is brought about. So husbands and wives must be centers of peace. Not only must there be love between the husband and wife, but the couple must also be able to bring harmony to their extended families. It is not enough that the husband and wife live well together in love. All the relatives must love each other as well. I tell brides and grooms to have many children. To bear many children and raise them is God's blessing. It is unthinkable that human beings apply their own standard of judgment and arbitrarily abort precious lives given to them by God. All life born into this world embodies God's will. All life is noble and precious, so it must be cared for and protected.
Naturally, a husband and wife must maintain mutual trust and nurture their love. The promise I emphasize the most to people preparing to marry is "teach your children to maintain sexual purity."
The perfection of human beings and peace in the world come about through the family. The purpose of religion is for everyone to become people of goodness who can then bring about an ideal world of peace. No matter how much politicians may put their heads together, they will not bring about peace. Formidable military power will not bring peace. The starting point for bringing about peace is the family.
When I arrived in America in 1971, the wind of promiscuous free sex was blowing across the country, and the entire society was in the midst of confusion. Young people who had received wonderful educations were being destroyed one by one. Sexual immorality was so bad that it was becoming the norm. Sexually transmitted diseases were beginning to skyrocket.
The seriousness of the problem was compounded by politicians, academics, and clergy. They knew about this problem, but most of them ignored it. They tried to look away from the ugly reality because they themselves had not maintained sexual purity. People who are not sexually pure themselves cannot urge their children to be so.
The degradation of sexual morality among adults destroys families and leads to the ruin of children. Immorality and licentiousness in the personal lives of adults ultimately destroy the lives of their children. The reason today's society does not have a level of happiness to match its level of material affluence is that families are being destroyed. To save families, adults must first live proper lives. Then, it is possible to raise children in sexual purity.
The mother is the fortress that protects the family. No matter how much society may change, the family can stand as a healthy and peaceful family only if the mother has the heart to sacrifice and serve. It is in such a family that beautiful children can grow. In educating our children, what the children see and learn in the family is most important. A crab that walks sideways cannot tell its offspring to walk straight ahead. The parents must show a good example.True children come from true families. Truth is always very simple.
The most difficult aspect of family life is raising children properly. We give birth to them in love and raise them in love, but they don't necessarily grow up the way their parents desire. What's worse, today's materialistic culture is destroying the innocent minds of young people. Young people who should be growing up to become responsible adults capable of extraordinary things are being lost to drugs. Drug-induced states make people lose touch with their own spirit. Young people who have lost their spirit eventually can only fall intocrime and sexual immorality.
During adolescence, children think everything should be centered only on themselves, and so there is the tendency to rebel against things the parents may say. If the parent does not respond with understanding, there is the possibility that the child may go to self-centered extremes. On the other hand, a child in adolescence can be deeply moved by anything that seems to connect with his heart. Perhaps on an autumn day, the child will see a persimmon fall from a tree that has lost all its leaves. The child cannot explain it, but somehow it connects with his heart and he will smile and experience happiness. This is a sign that God's original character is dwelling in his heart.
But if adolescents involve themselves in sexual relationships, their perceptions become clouded and their power of judgment diminished. When an adolescent boy and girl meet and start talking with each other, they can feel flushed and there may be a change in their heart rate. If their minds are not brought into harmony with God's standard in that moment, they will surely be moved in the direction of self-centeredness. They lose the means with which to control their bodies.
During adolescence, our cells open wide all the doors of love in both the physical body and the spirit. The desires of our mind and the desires of our body are meant to become one and function together. When we acquire the nose of love, we start to love smells that we used to hate. When we acquire the mouth of love, we start to love tastes that we used to hate. We want to listen all night to the stories of love. We want to keep touching the person we love. Adolescents start to think they can be happy simply by entering into a love relationship.
However, the doors of love are designed by God and are to open only when the time is right. Children must understand that they need to wait for the right time. Parents must teach these thingsto their adoleccent children very carefully. Love is a process by which we grow to resemble God. Despite what the world may tell us, it is not something to be enjoyed anytime we please.
During adolescence, a child may want to try really hard to copy the activity in a thrilling movie. People ask, "What's wrong with that?" It is wrong because irressponsible actions lead to destruction. When children mature and acquire wisdom and knowledge, they can control their social and environmental experiences and are truly free to do so, but not during adolescence.
Why do we say, "Do not give a knife to a child"? It is because the child would wave it around. The child might understand how to cut with a knife, buthe cuts wihout control. The child might even cut his mother's fingers. Because children do not yet fully understand consequences, we do not give them knives.
The combination of parents not teaching their children the value of purity and children rebelling against their parents leads to broken families. Because of this, societies are being broken. Because of this, nations are being destroyed. Because of this, humanity is being destroyed.
LOVING FAMILIES CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
To Love Is to Give and Forget
The family is the only institution created by God. It is the school of love where people can learn how to love each other and live together in peace, and it is the training center where we practice how to build a palace of peace in the world. It is where we learn how to become a husband or wife who will live for the sake of our spouse and how to become a husband and wife who will travel on the eternal path of love. The family is the base camp for world peace, and it must be such that the children will say, "We have never seen our mother and father fight."
We come up against all sorts of things in life. Even the most loving couple can have times when they may bicker with each other, become angry, and raise their voices. When the children come into the room, however, it all must stop immediately. No matter how angry a husband may be, he must relate to his spouse in peace when the children are present. The children must grow up thinking their family is filled with joy and their parents always love each other.
Parents are like a second God to their children. If you ask your young children, "Whom do you like better--God or Mommy and Daddy?"--and they say they like their mom and dad better, then that means they also like God. The most precious education takes place in the family. You won't find happiness and peace in some other place. The family is intended to be the Kingdom of Heaven. It would not matter if a person possesses incredible wealth and fame or even possesses the whole world. If all is not right with that person's family, then he cannot be happy. The Kingdom of Heaven begins in the family. If a husband and wife are bound together in true love and they build an ideal family, this will connect directly with the world.
I saw something interesting when I was in Danbury prison. We were using a bulldozer to level a slope and make a tennis court. When it rained, we would wait for it to stop, and start up again when the sun came out. This process of starting and stopping went on for months. We had a long stretch of rain for one period, and we couldn't work for twenty consecutive days. When the rain cleared and we went out to start the work again, we found that some kind of waterfowl had created a nest where there were some water weeds. It was a place not more than a few meters from where the prisoners would walk for exercise.
At first, we didn't even realize that the bird was there. Its camouflage was so perfect that the bird's feathers could easily be mistaken for the water weeds. Once the bird laid its eggs, though, we could see there was a bird in among the grass. the bird was sitting on some eggs that looked like pieces of black gravel. Once the chicks hatched, the mother would go find some food, bring it back to the nest, and put it in the beaks of the chicks. When the mother was returning to the nest with food, however, she never flew directly to the nest. She would land a little distance from the nest and then walk the rest of the way. Each time, she approached the nest from a different direction. This was her wisdom to make it more difficult for others to find out the location of the nest where the chicks were. The chicks ate the food their mother brought them and grew larger. Sometimes, when a prisoner would walk near the nest, the mother would fly out and chase him away with her sharp beak. She was afraid the prisoner might harm her chicks.
The water bird understood the true love of parents. True love is willing to give up its own life, and there is no calculation there. The heart of the bird that was willing to sacrifice its life, if necessary, to protect its offspring was true love. Parents go the path of love, no matter how difficult it becomes. A parent is prepared, if needed, to bury his life for the sake of love, and this is true love.
The essence of love is to cast aside any thought of having others live for oneself; it is to live for the sake of others and give for the whole. Love gives, but then forgets even the fact that it has given and continues to give without ceasing. This is love that gives in joy. It is the heart that a mother feels when she takes her infant in her arms and lets it feed from her breast.
Parents will suffer for their children until it seems their bones are going to melt away, yet they never feel that the work is difficult. That is how much they love their children. True love begins with God and comes to us from God. So when the parents say to their married children, "When you like each other, it is because of the grace of your parents," the children must be able to respond, "If you had not found such a spouse for me, I don't know what I would have done."
The family is a bundle of love. When we go to the Kingdom of Heaven and unpack that bundle, a wonderful father and mother will jump out. Beautiful children will jump out. A benevolent grandfather and grandmother will jump out. This is the bundle of love. The family is the space in which God's ideal is realized and the place where we can see the completion of God's work. God's will is to bring about a world in which love is made real, and the family is the place where God's love overflows.
We only need to hear the word family for us to begin smiling. This is because the family is overflowing with true love that truly lives for the sake of all members. True love gives love then forgets even the fact that it gave, and then gives again. The love that has parents living for their children and grandparents for the grandchildren is true love. The love that lets a person give up his or her life for the country is true love.
LOVING FAMILIES CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
The Peaceful Family
Is the Building Block of Heaven
Many Western people live truly lonely lives. Their children leave home once they turn eighteen, and the parents may only get to see their faces at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Many children never visit their parents just to find out how they are doing. Once people marry, they live with their spouse, independent from their family, until their parents become so old they can no longer take care of themselves. At that point, they move their parents into a nursing home.
So it is understandable that some Westerners envy the culture of the East. Many elderly people in the West think, "In the East, the grandparents live in the family as the senior members of the family, and it is really wonderful. The children respect their old parents. This is how people are supposed to live. What good is it to be lying in a nursing home, not able to see my children, not even knowing what day it is, just staying alive?"
Unfortunately, though, the Eastern family structure is also gradually deteriorating. We too are abandoning traditions that have been handed down to us for thousands of years. We have thrown away our traditional clothing, our food, and our family structure. The number of senior citizens living alone in Korea is on the rise. Each time I see stories in the news of senior citizens alone, it makes me sad. The family is where generations live together. If family members are scattered and the parents are left alone, then that is no longer a family. The extended family system is a beautiful Korean tradition.
I recommend that three generations live together as family. This is not simply because it is a way of maintaining our country's tradition. When a husband and wife have a child, they pass on all they can to that child. There is a limit, however, to how much the parents can pass on. The parents represent the present and the children the future. The grandparents represent the past. So it is only when the grandparents, parents, and children live together that the children can inherit all the fortune of the past and present. To love and respect your grandfather is to inherit the history of the past and to learn from the world of the past. The children learn precious wisdom from their parents on how to live in the present, while the parents prepare for the future by loving their children.
The grandparents are in a position to represent God. No matter how intelligent a young man may be, he cannot know all the secrets of this big world. Young people cannot know all the different secrets of life that come to us as we grow older. This is the reason the grandfather represents the history of the family. The grandfather is a precious teacher who passes on to the grandchildren all the wisdom he has acquired through the experiences he has accumulated during the course of his life.
The world's oldest grandfather is God. So a life of receiving the grandfather's love and of living for the sake of the grandfather is a life of coming to understand God's love and of living for His sake. We need to maintain such a tradition in order to open the secret storehouse of God's Kingdom and receive His treasure of love. Any country that ignores its old people abandons its national character and ignores its roots. When autumn comes, the chestnut tree gradually loses its moisture, and its leaves begin to fall. The outer shell of the chestnut falls off, and even the inner shell that surrounds the actual nut dries up. this is the cycle of life. Human beings are the same way. We are born as infants, grow up on the love of our parents, meet a wonderful partner, and get married. All this occurs in the chain of life made up of love. In the end, we become like chestnuts becoming dry in the autumn. Old people are not a separate category of people. We all become old. We must not treat old people disrespectfully, no matter how senile they may become.
There is a saying, "Anything can be accomplished when there is harmony in the home." When there is peace in the family, everything goes well. The peaceful family is the building block of the Kingdom of Heaven. The family operates on the power of love. If we love the universe as we love our families, then there is nothing to stop us from going anywhere we want. God exists in the center of love, as the Parent of the entire universe. That is why thelove in the family needs to link directly to God.When the family is completed in love, the universe will be completed.
LOVING FAMILIES CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
Ten Years of Tears
Melt a Father-in-Law's Heart
Not long ago the Korean media carried a story about a Japanese woman living in Milyang, Korea, who received an award for her filial service to her family. The article said that the woman had come to Korea as the wife of a Korean man who had met her through an introduction by a certain religious group and married her despite opposition from his family. The Japanese wife had cared for her Korean mother-in-law, who had difficulty moving around, and her aged father-in-law with great devotion. The people in the community then recommended her to be recognized for her filial actions, the article said.
The mother-in-law was paralyzed from the waist down and classified by the Korean public health authorities as being in the second-highest level of physical handicap. From the first day of her marriage, the daughter-in-law carried her mother-in-law on her back to different hospitals so she could be treated. Because she spent so much time devoting herself to her parents-in-law, she rarely had time to visit her own family in Japan. When she heard that she was going to be awarded for her actions, she protested, saying she was merely doing what was right.
This Japanese daughter-in-law in the news is Kazuko Yashima. She came to Korea through the international and intercultural marriages of our church. These are marriages where men and women are matched across religious, national, or racial differences. There are many young men in Korea's rural areas who cannot find brides. The brides who come to Korea in these international and intercultural marriages do so unconditionally.
They care for their aged parents-in-law, inspire their husbands to have strength and hope ,and bear and raise children. They go to live in the rural communities that Koreans have left behind because it is so difficult to live there. What a wonderful and precious thing they are doing! This program has been going on for more than thirty years.
Thousands of women from other countries have settled in Korea through such international and intercultural marriages. In rural Korean communities where the young people have left for the cities and the sound of a baby's cry has not been heard for a long time, the old people are overjoyed to see the birth of babies to these couples, and they treat the babies as if they were their own grandchildren. In one elementary school in Choongcheong Province, more than half the eighty students are children of the international and intercultural marriages arranged by our church. The school's principal has said the school will have to close if its student body declines any further, and so he prays daily that our church members will not move away from the community. In Korea today, some twenty thousand children of international and intercultural marriages are enrolled in elementary schools around the country.
Every year around the anniversary of Korea's independence from Japan, television news programs carry stories about some very special Japanese who stand before the camera and apologize for the actions of their country in Korea during the period of occupation. They themselves did not commit those crimes, but they apologize for the actions of their ancestors. Most of these people are members of our church who have torn down the walls separating nations by means of international and intercultural marriages. Because of their actions, the walls in the hearts of Koreans who think of the Japanese as our enemies are increasingly crumbling.
In 1988, a young and well-educated man who had joined our church wanted to get married and sought to be matched. He was matched with a Japanese woman. The father of this young man reacted very negatively to the match. "Of all the women in the world, you have to marry a Japanese?" he said.
During the Japanese occupation, the father had been one of the Koreans conscripted into forced labor and taken to a coal mine in Iwate Prefecture in northeastern Japan. He risked his life to escape the mine and walked for well over a month to Shimonoseki, where he was able to board a ship back to Korea. He harbored a tremendous hatred for Japan. On hearing the news of his son's match to a Japanese woman, he threatened to disown him.
"You betray the family," he said, "I will have your name taken out of the family register. No woman from that enemy country will ever set foot in this house, so take her and go away. She is not right for you, so I don't care whether you go or whether you die."
The father was adamant. The young man, however, went ahead and did what he felt was right. He married the Japanese woman and took his bride to his hometown in Nagan, Korea. The father would not even open the front gate for them. Sometime later, he reluctantly accepted their marriage, but his persecution of his daughter-in-law continued. Every time she seemed to have difficulty with something, he would say, "That's nothing, compared with what your people did to me. You should have expected this much when you decided to marry into our family."
Every time the relatives would gather for a major holiday, the father-in-law would have her sit near him, and he would tell her all the things that were done to him in the Iwate coal mine. Each time, the daughter-in-law would resond by saying, "Father, I apologize to you on behalf of Japan. I am sorry." She would shed tears and ask for his forgiveness. For as long as he would vent his anger at her, she would listen to him tell the same stories over and over until he was finished, and she would continue to apologize.
This went on for about ten years, and then it stopped. Relatives noticed that his cold attitude toward the daughter-in-law had become much warmer and thaht he even seemed to like her. So they asked him, "Why are you behaving so kindly toward your daughter-in-law? She's a Japanese woman. Don't you still hate her?"
"I don't hate her anymore," he said. "I was just venting on her all the hatred that was in me for having been conscripted to work in the mine. Because of her, the hatred has all disappeared. From now on, I'm going to be kind to her, because she's my real daughter-in-law."
The daughter-in-law paid for the sins of the Japanese. This is an example of the path of redemption that will lead humankind into a world of peace.
LOVING FAMILIES CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
The True Meaning of Marriage
International and intercultural marriages are the quickest way to bring about an ideal world of peace. Things that would take seemingly forever can be accomplished like miracles through these types of marriages in just two or three generations. People should marry across national and cultural boundaries with people from countries they consider to be their enemies so that the world of peace can come that much more quickly. A person may hate people from a certain country or culture and think he never wants to set eyes on them. But if someone from that country becomes his spouse, then the person is halfway to becoming a person of the new country. All the hatred melts away. If this is repeated for two or three generations, the roots of hatred can be eliminated.
White and Black people will marry each other; Japanese will marry Koreans and people from Africa. Many millions are entering into such international and intercultural marriages. A completely new lineage is being created as a result. A new kind of human being that transcends white, black, and yellow is being born. I am not just referring to marriages across international boundaries. The same is true for marrying people from other religions or denominations. In fact, marriages between people of different religions are even more difficult than international marriages. Even if two religious groups have been fighting each other for centuries, it is possible to bring harmony between them by having their followers marry each other. In such a marriage, one spouse will not close himself off from the other just because he or she was raised in a different tradition.
It is most important to teach young people about the sanctity and value of marriage. Korea today has one of the lowest birthrates in the world. Not to have children is dangerous. There is no future for a country that has no descendants. I teach young people that they should remain sexually pure during their youth, receive the marriage Blessing, and then have at least three children. Children are blessings given to us by God. When we bear children and raise them, we are raising citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. That is why it is a great sin to live immorally and to abort babies conceived in this lifestyle.
We marry not for ourselves but for the sake of our partners. When looking for a spouse, it is wrong to look only for a beautiful person or for a person living well. Human beings must live for the sake of each other. We should apply this principle to marriage, too. No matter how uneducated or homely your prospective spouse may be, you should marry with a heart that you will love him or her even more than if the spouse were educated and beautiful. God's love is the most precious of all blessings. In marriage, we receive that blessing of love and put it into practice in our own lives. We must understand this precious meaning of marriage, conduct our lives in marriage in the context of true love, and bring about true families.
From this perspective, world peace is not such a huge undertaking. It starts with peaceful families who create peaceful societies and eliminate conflict among countries. This will lead to world peace.
This example shows the importance of families that are intact and the immense responsibility such families must bear. The thinking that says "It's enough that I live well and that my family lives well" is completely alien to me.
Marriage is not something that involves just the bride and groom. Marriage creates a relationship between two families, and it brings reconciliation between clans and countries. Each accepts the other's different culture and overcomes the resentment and hatred built up through history. When a Korean and Japanese marry, it contributes to reconciliation between the two countries; when a white person and a black person marry, it contributes to reconciliation between the two races. The children of such marriages represent harmony because they inherit the lineage of two races. They represent a new beginning for humanity that transcends the races. When this continues for a few generations, division and hostility among nations, races, and religions will disappear, and humankind will become one family living in a world of peace.
In recent years, more and more Koreans are marrying foreigners, and we see more families with people from different nationalities and religions. Koreans have even coined a phrase for it that means multicultural families. It is not easy for a man and woman who have been raised in different cultures to create a family and live with love for each other. Particularly in Korea, which traditionally has had a homogeneous culture, the partners in such marriages need to make extra effort to understand and care for each other. The reason our members who enter into international and intercultural marriages succeed is because they live together centering on God. Various social welfare groups in Korea try to encourage the success of multicultural families by offering programs that teach Korean language and culture. Such efforts will be useless, however, unless our concept of marriage changes. Whoever thinks, "Wy did I marry this man? If I hadn't married this man, I would have had a better life," is setting the tone for a marriage that will be hell. Coming to a correct understanding of marriage is more important then learning Korean language and culture.
Marriage is not a simple matter of a man and woman of marriageable age coming together and combining their two lives. Marriage is something built on the basis of sacrifice. The man must live for the sake of the woman, and the woman for the sake of the man. As you continue to live for the sake of your spouse, your selfish mind disappears completely. The heart that seeks to sacrifice this way is the heart of love. Love is not a man and woman meeting each other and having a good time. Love is offering up your life. If you marry, you must do so on the basis of your determination that your life is for your spouse.
LOVING FAMILIES CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
True Love Is Found In True Families
No matter how much a man and woman may love each other, a complete and happy family must have parents who act as a protective shield around the home, and there must be at least one child for the parents to love. When a family is protected, it becomes a nesting place for happiness. Even a person with great success in society will have an unhappy family if this protection collapses.
The basis of love is the heart that sacrifices everything for the sake of the other. The reason parental love is true love is that parents are willing to give everything to their children, and when they have given everything, they want to give even more. Parents who love their children do not even remember what they have given. No parent would keep track of all the shoes and clothes he bought for his child and say, "This is how much I spent on you." Instead, a parent gives everything he has and says, "I wish I could do more for you than I have, and I'm sorry that I cannot."
As a child, I would follow my father around as he tended to his bee colonies, and I saw how the bees behaved. When a bee flying around a flower garden caught the fragrance of a flower, it would place its legs firmly on the flower. It would then stick its nose deep into the flower, so that its rear end was pointing upward while it sucked up the nectar. If you grabbed the bee on its rear end, it would not let go of the flower. It risks its life to keep its hold on the flower.
The love of parents cultivating a family is like the honeybee attached to the flower. Even if a parent should lose his own life, he willnever let go of the bond of love that ties him to his child. Parents will lay down their lives for the sake of the child and then later forget that they had done so. This is the true love of parents. No matter how far or dangerous the path may be, the parent will gladly travel it. Parental love is the greatest love in the world.
A person can live in a wonderful house and eat exotic foods from the mountains and the oceans, but if he has no parents, there will be a large void in his heart. A person who has grown up without receiving parental love has aloneliness and emptiness in his heart that cannot be filled with anything else. The family is the place where we receive true love and learn true love. Children who do not receive true love when they are young live their entire lives hungering for love and suffer emotional pain. Not only that, they don't have the opportunity to learn the lofty moral duties that they must fulfill for the family and society. True love is a value that cannot be learned any place other than in the family.
A true family is a place where a husband and wife each love the other and live for the sake of the other, as if the spouse were his or her mother, father, or sibling. It is a place where the husband loves his wife as he loves God, and the wife respects her husband as she respects God. We cannot forsake our siblings, no matter the difficulties we may face. Neither can we forsake our mothers. So the term divorce cannot even exist. The husband is in the place of the father and older brother to the wife. Just as a wife could never forsake her father or older brother, she can never forsake her husband. In the same way, a husband could never forsake his wife. A true family is a place where each spouse lives with the acknowledgment of the absolute value of the partner.
It doesn't matter if a husband and wife come from different races or cultures. If they have formed a family after having received God's love, then there can be no conflicts of culture among the children born into this family. These children will love and value the culture and tradition of their mother's country and father's country with the same love they have for each parent. Resolving conflicts in multicultural families is not a matter of providing them with particular knowledge. Instead, it is a matter of the parents of these families raising their children in true love. The parents' love soaks its way into the flesh and bone of the children and becomes the fertilizer that enables the children to accept their mother's country and father's country as one and become wonderful citizens of the world.
The family is the school where love for humanity is taught and learned. When children who are raised in the warm love of their parents go out into the world, they will care for people in difficulty in the manner they learned in their home. People raised in loving relationships with their own brothers and sisters will go into society and share their caring hearts with their neighbors. People raised in love will look upon each person they meet in the world as a member of their own family. The starting point toward a true family is the heart of love that treats strangers as family and shares with them.
Another reason the family is important is that it expands to become the world. A true family is the basis for forming a true society, true nation, and true world. It is the starting point toward a world of peace that is God's Kingdom. Parents will work for their children until their bones melt away. They are not working just to feed their own children, however. A person whose heart overflows with love is capable of working for the sake of others and God.
The family is where we receive so much love that it overflows from our hearts. The family protects its members in its embrace, but its function is not to prevent love from getting out. In fact, the love in the family should overflow into the surrounding community. No matter how much love may overflow, the love in the family will never go dry. This is because it is received from God. The love we receive from God is such that we can continue to dig it out but never see the bottom. In fact, the more we dig, the more love wells up like pure spring water. Anyone who has been raised in this love can lead a true life.
LOVING FAMILIES CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
Leaving Behind a Legacy of Love
A true life is a life in which we abandon our private desires and live for the public good. This is a truth taught by all major religious leaders past and present. East and West, whether it be Jesus, Buddha, or the Prophet Mohammad. It is a truth that is so widely known that, sadly, it seems to have been devalued. The passage of time or changes in the world cannot diminish the value of this truth. This is because the essence of human life never changes, even in times of rapid change all around the world.
The teacher with whom we have the closest relationship is our heart. Our heart is more precious to us than our closest friends and even more precious than our parents. So, as we live our lives, we need periodically to ask our hearts, "Am I living a good life now?" Anyone can hear his heart speaking to him. If he comes to the realization that his heart is his master, he "polishes" his heart and maintains a close relationship with his heart throughout his life. If a person hears the sound of his heart tearfully sobbing, then he needs to stop immediately whatever he is doing. Anything that makes the heart suffer will ruin him. Anything that makes the heart sad will eventually make the person fall into sadness.
For a person to polish his heart to the point that it becomes as clear as crystal, he absolutely must spend time in direct conversation with his heart in an environment where he is away from the world and alone with his heart. It will be a time of intense loneliness, but the moment that we become close to our hearts is the time of prayer and meditation. It is a time when we can take ownership over our hearts. When we isolate ourselves from the noise around us and allow our thoughts to settle, we can see into the deepest parts of our hearts. It will take a lot of time and effort to go all the way down to where the heart has settled. It will not happen in a day.
Just as love is not for our own sake, so happiness and peace are not for ourselves. Just as love can never exist without a partner, happiness and peace cannot exist without a partner. All these can exist only in the context of a relationship with a partner. Nothing can be accomplished if we live alone. We cannot be happy alone or speak of peace alone. Since a partner is what enables us to have happiness and peace, the partner is more important than we are.
Think about a mother carrying a baby on her back, sitting at an entrance to the subway in Seoul, selling homemade snacks to the people passing by. To be at that spot in time for the morning rush hour, she will have spent the whole night preparing the snacks, and then put her fussing child on her back to come to the station. People passing by might say, "Oh, you could get along well if only you didn't have that child to care for," but it is for the sake of the child that the mother lives her life.
Today people can expect to live about eighty years. Eighty years of joy, anger, sorrow, happiness, and all the other emotions mixed together may seem like a long time. But if we take away the private time a person spends sleeping, working, and eating, and then the time we spend talking, laughing, and having fun with family members and friends, attending weddings and funerals, and time spent lying sick in bed, only about seven years will remain. A person may live eighty years but spend only about seven years living for the public good.
Life is like a rubber band. The same seven years, given to two different people, can either be spent as seven years or seventy. Time, by itself, is empty. We need to put things in it. The same is true about a person's life. Everyone wants to live his life with a comfortable place to sleep and good things to eat.Eating and sleeping, however, are simply ways of letting time slip by. In the moment that a person has lived out his life and his body is laid to rest in the ground, all wealth and glory become nothing more than a bubble and disappear at once. Only the seven years that he lived for the public good will remain and be remembered by posterity. Those seven years are all that is left in the world of a life that lasted eighty years.
We do not come into this world, or depart from it, of our own accord. We have no ability to make choices with regard to our fate. We are born, though we did not choose to be born. We live, though we did not choose to live. We die, though we do not choose to die. We have no authority over these aspects of our lives, so how can we boast that we are somehow better than others? We cannot be born by our own wish, possess things that will forever be our own, or avoid death. So any boasting on our part would only be pathetic.
Even if we rise to a position higher than others the honor is only temporary. Even if we gather more possessions than others, we must leave them all behind at the gates of death. Money, honor, and knowledge all flow away from us in time, and all disappear with the passing years. No matter how noble and great a person might be, he is nothing more than a pitiable life that will end the moment he loses hold of his lifeline.
Human beings have always struggled to understand who we are and why we must live. We must realize that just as we were not born of our own accord, we are not meant to live our lives for our own sakes. So the answer to the question of how we should live our lives is simple. We were born of love, so we must live by traveling the path of love. Our lives were created by receiving the boundless love of our parents, so we must live our entire lives repaying that love. In the course of our lives, this is the only value we can choose on our own. The success or failure of our lives depends on how much love we pack into those eighty years that are given to us.
At some point, everyone will shed his physical body like old clothing and die. In Korean, "to return" is a common expression for dying. To return means to go back to where we came from, that is, to go back to our fundamental roots.Everything in the universe moves in cycles. The white snow that collects on the mountain will melt and flow down the slopes, first forming streams and then a river, and eventually go into the ocean. The water that flows into the ocean will absorb the heat of the sun's rays, become water vapor, go back up into the sky, and prepare to become either snowflakes or drops of rain. To return to our original place in this way is what we call death. Then, where do we human beings return to when we die? Body and heart come together to bring about human life, and death is the act of shedding the body. So we go to the place from which the heart came.
We cannot talk about life without also talking about death. We must accurately understand what death is, even if we do so only to understand the purpose of life. The type of life that has true value can be understood only by the person who finds himself in a difficult situation when death appears imminent and he cries out to Heaven in desperation, pleading to be allowed to live even just one more day. If our days are as precious as this, how should we live them? What are the things we must accomplish before we cross over the boundary line of death?
The most important is not to commit sin and to lead a life that is without shadows. There is much religious and philosophical debate over what constitutes sin, but what is clear is that we should not engage in acts that prick our conscience. When we do things that give us a guilty conscience, it always leaves a shadow in our heart.
The next most important thing is to resolve to do significantly more work than others have done. All of our lives are limited, whether that limit is sixty years, seventy years, or some other time period. Dependng on how we use that time, we can lead a life that is two or three times more abundant than others. If you cut your time into segments and then live each segment in a meaningful way, your life will be truly precious. Live with an attitude of devotion and diligence, telling yourself, for example, that you will plant two or three trees in the time it takes others to plant one.
Do not live for yourself. You must live not for yourself but for others; for your neighbors more than for your family; for the world more than for your own country. All sin in the world comes about when the individual is put first. Individual desires and ambitions harm a person's neighbors and ruin the society at large.
Everything in the world will eventually pass. The parents we love, the husband or wife we love, and the chidlren we love will all pass away. All that remains with us at the end of our lives is death. When a person dies only his legacy remains.
Please consider for a moment what you can do to show that you lived a life of value. The possessions and social position you have accumulated during your life will pass away from you. Once you cross the river of death, such things will have no meaning. Because we were born in love and lived our lives in love, love is also the only thing that remains with us when we are in our graves. We receive our lives in love, live by sharing love, and return into the midst of love. It is important that we live in a way that we can leave a legacy of love behind us.
'As a Peace'Loving Global Citizen'
LOVE WILL BRING UNIFICATION
The Power of Religion
to Bring People to Goodness
On August 2, 1990, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, igniting the possibility of war in the Persian Gulf. This area has long been a tinderbox, and I could see the world was about to be swept up into war. I concluded that Christian and Muslim leaders must meet to stop the conflict. I acted quickly to do all I could to stop a war in which innocent people were sure to die.
On October 2, I convened on short notice an emergency conference of the Council for the World's Religions in Cairo, Egypt, to deliver my urgent message of peace to the highest spiritual authorities of the Middle East and the Muslim world. Many wondered why I, a person with no apparent ties to the Middle East, would convene such a meeting, but to me it is simple. I believe every religion should contribute to world peace. A conflict between Christianity and Islam would be far worse than the conflict between democracy and communism. There is nothing more fearful than religious war.
I sent a message imploring President George H.W. Bush, who already was trying to limit the conflict, to avoid war in the Arab world and instead work to bring about Saddam Hussein's retreat through diplomatic means. President Bush may have thought he was going to war against Iraq only, but that is not how Muslims would think. For Muslims, religion is in a higher position than the nation state. I was very concerned that, if Iraq were attacked, the Arab world would join in opposition to the United States and the Christian world.
Our emergency conference in Cairo involved top Muslim leaders and grand muftis from nine countries, including the grand muftis of Syria and Yemen. At the core of the meeting was my desperate appeal to the Arab and Muslim world not to support Saddam Hussein's claim that this was a holy war. Whether the United State won or Iraq won, what good would it do? What value would it have if it meant that bombs rained down, destroying houses, schools and precious innocent lives?
The Cairo conference was just one of our many peace activities. Every time a crisis arose in the Middle East our members worked fearlessly, risking their lives at the scenes of danger. For years, during the violence and terror in Israel and Palestine, our members, traveling at a moment's notice, collaborated with major organizations to work for peace.
I am always sending our members to places where their lives are at risk, but it is unavoidable when working for the cause of peace. I may be in Brazil tilling the soil under the blazing sun, or speaking far away in Africa, but my heart is constantly drawn to those members who insist on working in the dangerous environment of the Middle East. I pray that peace will come to the world quickly, so I no longer need to ask our members to go to such places of death.
On September 11, 2001, we all felt utter horror when the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City were destroyed by terrorists. Some people said this was the inevitable clash of civilizations between Islam and Christianity. But my view is different. In their purest form, Islam and Christianity are not religions of conflict and confrontation. They both place importance on peace. In my view, it is bigoted to brand all Islam as radical, just as it is bigoted to say that Islam and Christianity are fundamentally different. The essence of all religions is the same.
Immediately following the collapse of the towers, I organized religious leaders from New York and around the country to pray and minister to the victims and first responders at Ground Zero. Then, in October I convened a major interfaith conference for peace in New York City. Ours was the first international gathering in New York after the tragedy.
These dramatic contributions to peace in times of war did not spring up from nothing. For decades prior, I have invested in promoting interreligious harmony. It is on the foundation of this investment that we have the trust of major faith leaders who would travel to Israel during the Intifada or to New York in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
In 1984, I brought together forty religious scholars, instructing them to compare the teachings that appear in the sacred texts of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and other major world religions. The book that resulted from their efforts was World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts, published 1991. What they found was that the sacred texts of religion convey the same or similar teachings more than seventy percent of the time. The remaining thirty percent are teachings that represent unique points of each religion. This means that most of the teachings of the major world religions are the same at their core. The same is true of religious practice. On the surface, some believers wear turbans, some wear prayer beads around their necks, others wear a cross, but they all seek the fundamental truths of the universe, and try to understand the will of the Divine One.
People often become friends even if all they have in common is the same particular hobby. When two strangers meet and discover they have the same hometown, they can immediately communicate as if they had known each other for decades. So it is truly tragic that religions, which share the same teachings more than seventy percent of the time, still struggle to understand each other and communicate happily. They could talk about the things they have in common and take each other by the hand. Instead, they emphasize their differences and criticize one another.
All religions in the world talk about peace and love. Yet they fight each other over peace and love. Israel and Palestine talk of peace and justice, yet both practice violence until children are bleeding and dying. Judaism, the religion of Israel, is a religion of peace, and the same is true of Islam.
Our experience when compiling World Scripture leads us to believe that it is not the religions of the world that are in error but the ways the faiths are taught. Bad teaching of faith brings prejudice, and prejudice leads to conflict. Muslims were branded terrorists after the 9/11 attack. But the vast majority of these simple, believing families are peace-loving people, just like us.
The late Yasser Arafat led the Palestinians for a long time. Like all political leaders, he had hoped for peace, but he was also asociated with strife in the region. As chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Arafat embodied the determination for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to become an independent Palestinian state. Many argue he shifted from his past associations and began to deter the activities of extremist organizations after he was elected president of the Palestinian National Authority in 1996.
In the interest of seeking peace in the Middle East, I communicated with Arafat on
twelve separate occasions. Of course, my words to him never wavered. God's way is always the way of harmony, seeking for peace.
The road to Arafat's office was literally a difficult one. Anyone approaching his office had to pass between heavily armed guards and submit to at least three body searches along the way. But when our members arrived, Arafat, wearing his keffiyeh (traditional head gear), would warmly welcome them.
These sorts of relationships cannot be built in a day or two. They come from the years when we poured out our sincerity and devotion for the sake of Middle East peace. It was our arduous efforts and constant willingness to risk our lives in terror-ridden conflict areas that prepared the way for us to be welcomed into relationships with the religious and political leaders at these levels. It took large amounts of resources. Finally, we could gain the trust of both Arafat and top Israeli leaders, which allowed us to play a mediating role during outbreaks of conflict in the Middle East.
I first set foot in Jerusalem in 1965. This was before the Six-Day War, and Jerusalem was still under Jordan's territorial control. I went to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus shed tears of blood in prayer just prior to being taken to the court of Pontius Pilate. I put my hand on a two-thousand-year-old olive tree that could have witnessed Jesus' prayer that night. I drove three nails in that tree, one for Judaism, one for Christianity, and one for Islam. I prayed for the day when these three families of faith would become one. World peace cannot come unlesss Judaism, Christianity, and Islam become one. Those three nails are still there.
Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are sharply divided against each other in today's world, but they share a common root. The issue that keeps them divided is their understanding of Jesus. To address this problem, on May 19, 2003, I asked that Christians de-emphasize the cross in relations among the Abrahamic faiths. Thus, we enacted a ceremony of taking down the cross. We brought a cross from America, a predominantly Christian culture, and buried it in the Field of Blood in Israel. This is the field that was bought with the thirty pieces of silver that Judas Iscariot received for the betrayal of Jesus that ended in Jesus' crucifixion.
Late that year, on December 23, some three thousand Ambassadors for Peace from all religions, and from around the world, joined with seventeen thousand Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem's Independence Park to symbolically remove the crown of thorns from the head of Jesus and replace it with a crown of peace. They then marched for peace through Jerusalem. Local authorities granted permissions and protected our efforts, and Palestinian and Israeli families supported our march for peace by placing a light in front of their homes.
Through that march, which was broadcast live via the Internet to the entire world, I proclaimed that Jesus had his authority as King of Peace restored to him. After centuries of misunderstanding and division, an opportunity was created for Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to reconcile with one another.
Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest mosque in Islam after those in Mecca and Medina, is located in Jerusalem. It is the spot from which the Prophet Mohammad is said to have ascended to heaven. Ours was the only mixed religious group welcomed to all parts of this house of worship. The mosque leaders guided the Christian and Jewish leaders who had participated in the peace march to the sacred spaces of the mosque. We were able to open a door that had been closed tightly, and prepared the way for many Muslim leaders to communicate at a new level with their Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters.
Human beings like peace, but they also enjoy conflict. Human beings will take the most gentle of animals and make them fight. they will have roosters fight and peck each other with their sharp beaks until pieces of soft flesh begin to fall away. Then, these same people will turn around and tell their own children. "Don't fight with your friends. Play nice."
The fundamental reason that wars occur is not religion or race. It is connected to what lies deep inside human beings. People like to attribute the causes of armed conflicts to such things as science or the economy, but the actual fundamental problem lies within human beings ourselves.
Religion's role is to turn human beings toward goodness and eliminate their evil nature that finds enjoyment in fighting. Examine the major religions of the world. They all hold a peaceful world as their ideal. They all want to see a kingdom of heaven, utopia, or paradise. Religions have different names for this ideal, but they all seek such a world. there are numerous religions in the world, and virtually everyone is divided into countless factions and denominations. But the essential hope for all is the same: They want the Kingdom of Heaven and a world of peace. The human heart has been torn to shreds by the violence and enmity at our core. The kingdom of love will heal it.
LOVE WILL BRING UNIFICATION
The River Does Not
Reject the Waters That Flow into It
Selfishness is rampant in the world. Ironically, however, the individual is destroyed by this, and not just the individual, but those around him and the nation as a whole. The greatest obstacle to the world of peace is avarice in people's hearts. It starts in individuals and expands to the nation, and hearts stained with avarice cause division and conflict at every level. Countless people throughout history have shed their blood and died in conflicts caused by avarice.
To eliminate such conflicts, we need a great revolution to change the erroneous values and thinking that are widespread in the world today. The complex problems our societies face today can be resolved quickly if there is a revolution in
people's thinking. If each individual and nation begins to look out for the other first, working together with the other, the problems of modern society will be resolved.
Throughout my life, I have dedicated myself to efforts for peace. Whenever peace is discussed, I become emotional. Tears begin to well up in my eyes, my voice chokes, and I can hardly swallow. It moves me deeply just to imagine the day when the world becomes one and begins to enjoy peace. That is the nature of peace. It links people who think differently, are of different races, and speak different languages. Our hearts yearn for this world and harbor a hope that it will be realized.
However, peace comes through concrete action, not just by having a vague dream. But building a movement for peace has not always been easy. There have been many difficulties, and it has required large sums of money. I have not done this for my own honor, or to make money. All I did was invest my full effort, so that we can have a world where a strong and true peace takes root. For as long as I have been doing this work, I have never been lonely. This is because, ultimately, peace is the desire of every person in the world. It is strange though. Everyone wants peace, but still it has not come.
It is easy to talk about peace. But to bring peace is not easy. This is because people push aside the most elemental truth needed to bring about a world of peace. They pretend not to know this truth is there. Before we talk about peace among individuals or among nations, we must talk about peace between ourselves and God.
Each religion today thinks of itself as the highest, rejecting and looking down on other religions. it is not right to build fences against other religions and denominations.
A religion is like a wide river flowing toward an ideal, peaceful world. The river flows for long distances before it comes to the wide expanse of peace. On its way, many streams flow into it. The streams cease to be streams form the point they meet the river. From that point, they, too, become part of the river. In this way, they become one.
The river does not reject any of the streams that flow into it. It accepts them all. It embraces all the streams and forms a single flow as it continues toward the ocean. People in the world today do not understand this simple truth. The streams that seek out the river and flow into it are the numerous religions and denominations of today. Each stream traces its origin to a different spring, but they are all going to the same destination. They are seeking the ideal world overflowing with peace.
Peace will never come to this earth unless we first tear down the walls between religions. For thousands of years, religions have grown in alliance with particular ethnic groups, and so they are surrounded by high cultural walls. Tearing these down is an extremely difficult task. For thousands of years, each religion has surrounded itself with such high walls, insisting that it is the only correct religion. In some cases, religions have expanded their influence and entered into conflicts and fights with other religions, using God's name in activities that had nothing to do with His will.
The will of God lies in peace.A world fragmented by differences in nationality, race and religion, where people attack and fight one another and shed one another's blood, is not what God wants. When we shed blood and fight each other in His name, we only cause Him pain. A world torn to shreds has been created out of the desires of people to promote their own wealth and glory. it does not represent the will of God. God clearly told me so. I am ony His errand boy, receiving His words and carrying them out on earth.
The path to bring about a world of peace, in which religions and races become united, has been exhausting. Many times I wasrejected by people, or my own abilities fell short, but I could not put aside this mission. When members and colleagues who worked with me would cry out in anguish because of the difficulty of the task, I would even feel envious of them.
"If you decide this path isn't for you, you have the option to stop and turn back," I told them. "Or if you try and try and still can't acomplish it, you have the option to die trying. But you should pity me," I said. "I am a person with no such options."
There are close to two hundred countries in the world. For all these countries to enjoy peace, the power of religion is absolutely necessary. The power of religion is the love that overflows from it. I am a religious person whoserole is to convey love, so it is natural that I would work for peace. There is no difference between Islam and Christianity in their commitment to bring about a world of peace.
In America, I lead a movement for peace, bringing together thousands of clergy who transcend denomination. Through the movement, we discuss ways that people of all faiths--Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc.--can come together. We devote our full efforts to change the hardened hearts of people.
My purpose is the same today as it was yesterday. It is to create one world with God at the center, a world brought together like a single nation without boundaries. All humanity will be citizens of this world, sharing a culture of love. In such a world, there will be no possibility for division and conflict. This will mark the beginning of a truly peaceful world.
LOVE WILL BRING UNIFICATION
"Allow Freedom of Religion
in the Soviet Union"
There are a number of materialism-based theories that are popularly held but not verified. One is Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Another such theory comes from the writings of Karl Marx. The idea thatspirit originates from matter is wrong down to its root. Human beings are created by God, and all beings are unified bodies having both material and spiritual aspects. In short, the core theory and philosophy underlying communism is wrong.
While studying in Japan, I worked together with communists for the independence of Korea. They were my good friends who were prepared to give their lives, if necessary, for the liberation of our homeland, but our way of thinking was fundamentally different. So, once independence was achieved, wehad to go ourseparate ways.
I am opposed to the historical materialism of communism. I have carried out a movement for victory over communism throughout the world. I have advised successive U.S. presidents to protect the free world, standing up to the communist strategy of turning the world red. Communist countries that were unhappy with my actions attempted to remove me through acts of violence, but I do not hate them. Nor do I consider them my enemy. I oppose the philosophy and ideology of
communism, but I have never hated its people. God wants all people, including communists, to be brought into His oneness.
In that sense, my visit to Moscow in April 1990 for a meeting with President Mikhail Gorbachev and my visit to Pyongyang the next year for a meeting with President Kim Il Sung were not simple journeys; they were taken at the risk of my life. It was my destiny to go on these journeys to convey Heaven's will to these men. I said only half-jokingly at the time that Moscow, pronounced in English, sounds similar to "must go,," and so I had to go.
I had a long-held conviction regarding communism. I could foresee that signs pointing to the fall of communim would begin to appear after about sixty years from the Bolshevik Revolution, and that the Soviet edifice would fall in 1987, the seventieth anniversary of the revolution. so I was excited in 1984 when I heard that Dr. Morton Kaplan, a noted political scientist at the University of Chicago, was proposing to hold an international conference titled "The Fall of the Soviet Empire." I asked him to pay me a visit in Danbury prison so that we could discuss the details. The first thing I said to him when we met was that I wanted him to declare "the end of Soviet communism" before August 15 of that year.
Dr. Kaplan responded, "Declare the end of Soviet communism? How can I do such a risky thing?" and indicated he was not inclined to do this. In 1985 when the
conference was to take place, the Soviet Union was increasing its worldwide influence, and there were no outward signs of its decline. but, it's the final flame that burns the brightest.
So it was natural that Dr. Kaplan would be reluctant. If he made a declaration predicting such a specific event and it turned out to be false, his reputation as a scholar could be destroyed overnight.
"Reverend Moon," he said, "I believe you when you say that Soviet communism will fall. But I don't think it will happen just yet. So instead of declaring 'the end of Soviet communism,' how about if we say 'the decline of Soviet communism'?"
I burned with anger when I saw that he was proposing to soften the title to something other than "The End of the Soviet Empire." It was a compromise I could not accept. I felt strongly that if a person has conviction, he should be brave and put all his energy into the fight, even if he feels afraid.
"Dr. Kaplan," I said, "what to you mean? When I ask you to declare the end of communism, that declaration itself will take energy away from it and help bring about its peaceful collapse. Why are you hesitating?"
In the end, Dr. Kaplan did indeed declare "the end of Soviet communism" at a conference of the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA) held in Geneva under the title, "The Fall of the Soviet Empire: Prospects for Transition to a Post-Soviet World." It was something that no one had dared consider up until that time.
Because Switzerland was a neutral country, Geneva was a major staging area for the Soviet Committe for State Security (KGB), and many KGB agents worked from there to carry out espionage and terror activities around the world. The Intercontinental Hotel, where the PWPA conference was held, faced the Soviet Embassy across the street, so I can well imagine how nervous Dr. Kaplan must have felt. A few years later, however, he became well known as the scholar who first predicted the end of Soviet communism.
In April 1990, I convened the World Media Conference held in Moscow. Unexpectedly, the Soviet government gave me head-of-state-level protocol, beginning at the airport. We were transported to the center of Moscow in a police-escorted motorcade. The car that carried me traveled on the yellow section of the road, which was used only by the president and state guests. This happened before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet government afforded this exceptional treatment to me, an anticommunist.
At the conference, I gave an address praising the move toward perestroika. I said this revolution must be bloodless and that it must be a revolution of the mind, and spirit. The purpose of my visit was to attend the World Media Conference, but my mind was focused on meeting President Gorbachev.
At the time, President Gorbachev was popular within the Soviet Union, following the successes of his perestroika policies. Over the years, I have been able to meet with many U.S. presidents, but meeting President Gorbachev was much more difficult. I was concerned that even one meeting might be difficult to achieve. I had a message to give him, and it was important that I do this in person. He was reforming the Soviet Union, giving rise to the winds of freedom there, but as time passed, the swords of reform were being increasingly pointed at his back. If the situation were left unchecked, he would fall into great danger.
I explained, "If he does not meet me, he has no way to catch the wave of heavenly fortune, and if he cannot do that , he will not last long."
Perhaps President Gorbachev heard this expression of my concern. The next day, he invitedme to the Kremlin. I rode in a limousine provided by the Soviet government and entered deep into the Kremlin. On entering the presidential office, my wife and I took our seats, and Cabinet ministers of the Soviet Union took seats next to us. President Gorbachev smiled a big smile and gave us an energetic explanation of the successes of his perestroika policies. Then he showed me into an anteroom, where we met one on one. I used this opportunity to give him the following message.
"Mr. President, you have already achieved much success through perestroika, but that alone will not be sufficient for reform. You need immediately to allow freedom of religion in the Soviet Union. If you try to reform only the material world, without the involvement of God, perestroika will be doomed to fail. Communism is about to end. The only way to save this nation is to allow the freedom of religion. The time is now for you to act with the courage that you have shown in reforming the Soviet Union and become a president who works to bring about world peace."
President Gorbachev's face hardened at the mention of religious freedom, as though he had not been expecting this. As one would expect from the man who had allowed the reunification of Germany a few months earlier, however, he quickly relaxed his expression and soberly accepted my words to him. I continued, saying, "South Korea and the Soviet Union should now open diplomatic relations. In that context, please invite South Korean President Roh Tae Woo to visit." I also explained a why it would be good for the two countries to have diplomatic relations.
After I had finished all I wanted to say, President Gorbachev made a promise to me with a tone of certitiude that I had not heard him express prior to that point.
"I am confident," he said, "that relations between South Korea and the Soviet Union will develop smoothly. I, too, believe that political stability and the relaxation of tension on the Korean peninsula are necessary.Opening diplomatic relations with South Korea is only a matter of time; there are no obstacles. As you suggested, I will meet President Roh Tae Woo.
As I was about to leave President Gorbachev that day, I took off my watch and put it on his wrist. he seemed a little bewildered that I would treat him as I might an old friend. So I told him firmly, "Each time your reforms face difficulty, please look at this watch and remember your promise to me. If you do that, Heaven will surely open a path for you."
As he promised me, President Gorbachev met President Roh in San Francisco in June that year for a bilateral summit. Then, on September 30, 1990, South Korea and the Soviet Union signed a historic agreement to open diplomatic relations for the first time in eighty-six years.
Of course, politics is the job of politicians, and diplomacy is the job of diplomats. Sometimes, though, when a door has been closed for a long time, a religious person who has no self-serving interests at stake can be more effective.
Four years later, President and Mrs. Gorbachev visited Seoul, and my wife and I hosted them at our residence in Hannam-Dong. He hadalready been removed from power by a coup d'etat. Following the coup by anti-reformist forces opposed to perestroika, he had resigned his position as general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and dissolved the party. As a communist, he had eliminated the Communist Party.
The former president and first lady used chopsticks to eat the bulgogi (a deliciously seasoned, grilled beef) and jabchae (made from noodles and vegetables) we had carefully prepared. When he was served sujeonggwa ( a sweet, refreshing, cold persimmon drink) as dessert, Mr. Gorbachev repeated several times, "Korea has excellent traditional foods." He and the first lady appeared relaxed and quite different from the tense days when he was in office. Mrs. Gorbachev, who had previously been a thoroughgoing Marxist-Leninist lecturing at Moscow State University, wore a necklace with a crucifix.
"Mr. President, you did a great thing." I told him. "You gave up your post as general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, but now you have become the president of peace. Because of your wisdom and courage, we now have the possibility to bring world peace. You did the most important, eternal, and beautiful thing for the world. You are a hero of peace who did God's work. The name that will be remembered and honored forever in the history of Russia will not be 'Marx,' 'Lenin,' or 'Stalin.' It will be 'Mikhail Gorbachev.'"
I gave such high praise to the decision by Mr. Gorbachev to bring about the breakup of the Soviet Union, the mother country of communism, without shedding blood.
In response, Mr. Gorbachev said, "Reverend Moon, I have been greatly comforted by your words. Hearing your words gives me energy. I will devote the remainder of my life to projects that are for the sake of world peace." And he firmly took my hand in his.
LOVE WILL BRING UNIFICATION
Korea's Unification Will Bring World Unification
As I was coming out of the Kremlin after meeting Mr. Gorbachev, I turned toBo Hi Pak, who had accompanied me, and gave him a special instruction.
"I need to meet President Kim Il Sung before the end of 1991," I told him. "There's no time. The Soviet Union is going to end in the next year or two. Our country is now the problem. Somehow, I need to meet President Kim and prevent war from occurring on the Korean peninsula."
I knew that when the Soviet Union collapsed, most other communist regimes in the world would also fall. North Korea would find itself forced into a corner, and there was no telling what provocation it might commit. North Korea's obsession with nuclear weapons made the situation even more worrisome. To prevent a war with North Korea, we needed a channel to talk to its leadership, but we had no such channel at that point. Somehow, I needed to meet with President Kim and receive his commitment not to strike first against South Korea.
The Korean peninsula is a microcosm of the world. If blood were shed on the Korean peninsula, it would be shed in the world. If reconciliation occurred on the peninsula, there would be reconciliation in the world. If the peninsula were unified, this would bring about unification in the world. Beginning in the late 1980s, however, North Korea had been working hard to become a country possessing nuclear weapons. Western countries were saying that they would stage a first strike against North Korea, if necessary. If the situation continued to the extreme, there was no telling what desperate move North Korea might attempt. I knew I somehow needed to open a channel of communication with North Korea.
It was not an easy task. Bo Hi Pak communicated with North Korean Vice Premier Kim Dal Hyun, but North Korea's response was firmly negative.
"The people of North Korea know President Moon only as the ringleader of the international movement for victory over communism." the vice premier said. "Why would we welcome the leader of a conservative, anticommunist group? A visit to North Korea by Chairman Moon absolutey cannot be permitted."
Bo Hi Pak did not give up. "President Nixon of the United States was a strong anticommunist," he reminded the North Korean official. "But he visited China, met Chairman Mao Zedong, and opened diplomatic relations between the United States and China. It was China that profited from this. Until then, China had been branded an aggressor nation, but it is now rising as the central country on the world stage. For North Korea to have international credibility, it should establish a friendship with a worldwide anticommunist such as Chairman Moon."
Finally, President Kim Il Sung invited my wife and me on November 30, 1991. We were in Hawaii at the time, so we quickly flew to Beijing. While we were waiting in the VIP lounge of Beijing Capital International Airport, which the government of China had arranged for us to use, a representative of the North Korean government came and handed us the official invitation. The official stamp of the Pyongyang government was clearly visible on the document.
"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea extends an invitation to Chairman Moon Sun Myung of the Federation for World Peace, his wife, and entourage to enter the Republic. Their safety is guaranteed during the period of their stay in the
North." It was signed "Kim Dal Hyun. Vice Premier, Cabinet of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, November 30, 1991."
Our group boarded a special flight, Air Koryo 215, arranged for us by President Kim. A special flight from President Kim had never been arranged for any foreign head of state, so this was very exceptional and special treatment.
The aircraft flew over the Yellow Sea, up to Sineuiju, over my hometown of Jeongju, and on to Pyongyang. I was informed that the special route had been charted to let me see my hometown. My heart began to pound as I looked down at my hometown, dyed red by the light of the setting sun, and I felt numb deep in my being. I wondered, "Can this really be my hometown?" I wanted to jump out right away and start running around the hills and valleys.
At Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport, family members whom I had not seen for forty-eight years were there to greet me. My younger sisters, who used to be as beautiful as flowers, had become grandmothers entering their senior years. They grasped my hands, creased their eyebrows, and began to cry wildly. My older sister, now more than seventy, grabbed me by the shoulder and cried. I, however, did not cry.
"Please," I said, "don't do this. It's important for me to meet my family, but I came to do God's work. Please don't do this. Get hold of yourselves."
Inside my heart I was shedding tears like a waterfall. I was seeing my sisters for the first time in more than forty years, but I could not embrace them and cry with them. I maintained control of my heart, and made my way to our place of lodging.
The next morning, as has been my custom throughout my life. I awoke early in the
morning and began to pray. If there were any surveilance apparatus in the guesthouse, my tearful prayer for the unification of the Korean peninsula would have been recorded in its entirety. That day, we toured the city of Pyongyang. The city was well fortified with the red slogans of Kim Il Sung's Juche ideology.
On the third day of our visit, we boarded an aircraft to tour Mount Kumgang.
Though it was the winter season, the Kuryong Falls had not frozen and still spouted
a strong flow of water. After touring all the different areas of Mount Kumgang, we
boarded a helicopter on our sixth day, to be transported to my hometown.
In my dreams, I had felt such a strong yearning for my childhood home that I felt as though I could run to it in one bound. And now, there it was, appearing before me. I could hardly believe my eyes. Was this real, or was I dreaming? For what seemed lke the longest time, I could only stand there, like a statue, in front of my home. After several minutes, I stepped inside.
It used to be in the shape of a hollow square, with the main wing, guest wing, storehouse, and barn built around a central courtyard. Now, only the main wing remained. I went into the main room, where I had been born, and sat on the floor with my legs crossed.Memories of what it had been like in my childhood came back to me as clearly as if it were only yesterday.
I opened the small door that led from the main room to the kitchen and looked out at the backyard. The chestnut tree I used to climb had been cut down and was gone. It seemed as though I could hear my mother calling to me sweetly. "Is my little tiny-eyes hungry?" The cotton cloth of her traditional dress passed quickly before my eyes.
I visited my parents' grave site and offered a bouquet of flowers. The last time I saw my mother was when she came to visit me in prison in Heungnam and cried out loud. Her grave was thinly covered by the snow that had fallen the night before. I brushed it away with the palm of my hand and gently caressed the grass that had grown over her grave. The rough touch of the grass reminded me of the roughnes of my mother's skin on the back of her hand.
LOVE WILL BRING UNIFICATION
My Meeting with President Kim Il Sung
I had not gone to North Korea because I wanted to see my hometown nor because I wanted to tour Mount Kumgang. I wanted to meet President Kim Il Sung and have a serious discussion on the future of our homeland. Yet, six days into my visit, there was no word on whether a meeting with President Kim could be arranged. When we arrived back at Pyongyang's Sunan Airport by helicopter after visiting my hometown, however, I found that Vice Premier Kim Dal Hyun had unexpectedly come to meet me.
"The Great Leader Kim Il Sung will receive you tomorrow," he told me. "The place will be the Majeon Presidential Residence in Heungnam, so you will need to board a special flight immediately and go to Heungnam."
I thought to myself, "They say he has many presidential residences, Why, of all places, Heungnam?"
On my way, I noticed a large sign for the Heungnam Nitrogen Fertilizer Factory, where I had been forced to labor. It reminded me of my time in prison and gave me an odd feeling. I spent the night in a guesthouse and went the next day to meet the president.
As I approached the official residence, I found President Kim at the entrance, waiting to greet me. The two of us simultaneously embraced each other. I was an anticommunist and he was the leader of a communist party, but ideology and philosophies were not important in the context of our meeting. We were like brothers who were meeting for the first time after a long separation. This was the power of belonging to the same people and sharing the same blood.
Right at the outset, I said to him: "Mr. President, because of your warm consideration, I have been able to meet my family. There are, however, ten million Koreans who are members of families separated between North and South, and they are unable even to know whether their relatives on the other side are alive or dead. I would like to ask you to grant them the opportunity to meet each other."
I spent a little more time telling him about my visit to my hometown and appealed
to his love for the Korean people. He and I spoke the same dialect, so we were at ease with one another.
President Kim responded, "I feel the same way. From next year, let's begin a movement that allows separated compatriots of North and South to meet one another." His acceptance of my proposal was as natural as the snow melting in spring.
After speaking of my visit to Jeongju, I moved on to my views on nuclear weapons. I respectfully proposed that North Korea agree to a declaration on the de- nuclearization of the Korean peninsula and sign a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
He responded with candor, "Think for a moment. Who am I going to kill by making nuclear weapons? Kill my own people? Do I look like that kind of person? I agree that nuclear energy should be used only for peaceful purposes. I have listened attentively to what you have to say, and I expect it will be all right."
At the time, North-South relations were at a difficult point over the issue of nuclear inspection in North Korea, and so I had made my proposal with some reluctance. Everyone present, however, was surprised that President Kim responded in such a pleasant tone. At this point, we adjourned our meeting to a dining room, where we took an early lunch.
"Are you familiar with frozen potato noodles?" he asked. "It's a dish I ate quite often when I was active as a partisan on Mount Baekdu. Please try some."
"Well, of course I know it," I said, responding to his words with delight. "We used to enjoy this dish in my hometown."
"Well, I'm sure in your hometown you ate it as a delicacy," he continued. "But we ate it to survive. The Japanese police used to search for us all the way to the top of Mount Baekdu. We didn't have a chance to sit down to a decent meal. What else is there to eat at the top of Mount Baekdu other than potatoes?
"We would start to boil some potatoes, and if the Japanese police came after us, we would bury the potatoes in the ground and run away. It would be so cold that by the time we got back,the potatoes would be frozen solid in the ground. The only thing we could do was dig up the potatoes, thaw them, and then turn them into powder, so we could make noodles out of them."
"Mr. Presdient," I said, "you are an expert on frozen potato noodles."
"That's right. They taste good mixed in bean soup, and they also taste very good if you eat them in sesame soup. It's a dish that is easy on the digestion, and because potatoes have a tendency to stick together, it is very filling.
"Also, Chairman Moon," he continued, "it tastes really good if you do like they do in Hamgyung Province and take some mustard leaf kimchi, like this, and put it over the noodles. You should try it."
I did as he suggested and ate my frozen potato noodles with some mustard leaf kimchi over them. The tasty flavor of the noodles matched well the spicy kimchi and left my stomach feeling light.
"There are many delicacies in the world," President Kim said. "I'm not interested in any of those. There's nothing better than the potato cakes, corn and sweet potatoes that I used to eat in my hometown."
"You and I even share similar tastes in food," I said. "It's good that people who share the same homeland can meet like this."
"How was it when you visited your hometown?" he asked me.
"I was filled with many emotions," I said. "The home where I lived was still there, and I sat in the main room to think about the past. I almost expected to hear the voice of my late mother, calling me. It was an emotional feeling."
"I see," he said. "It shows that our country needs to be unified immediately. I hear that when you were young, you were quite mischievous. Did you have a chance to run around while you were there this time?"
Everyone at the table laughed at the president's comment.
"I wanted to climb a tree and go fishing," I said, "but I heard that you were waiting for me, so I quickly came here. I hope you will invite me to come again sometime."
"Well, of course. Of course I will. Chairman Moon, do you like to hunt? I like hunting very much. I think if you go bear hunting on Mount Baekdu, you will enjoy it very much. Bears have big bodies and look uncoordinated, but they are actually very nimble.
"I once came face to face with a bear," he continued. "The bear looked at me and didn't move a muscle. If I had started to run, you know what would have happened, don't you?" So what was I going to do? I stared right back at him and just stood there. One hour passed, then two hours, three hours. But the bear just kept staring at me. You know how Mount Baekdu is famous for being cold. I was afraid I might freeze to death before the bear ate me."
"So what happened?" I asked.
"Well, Chairman Moon, do you see the bear sitting here, or do you see me?"
I laughed out loud, and President Kim immediately followed with a suggestion.
"Chairman Moon," he said, "the next time you come, let's go hunting together on
I responded quicky with my own invitation.
"You like to fish, don't you? On Kodiak Island in Alaska, you can catch halibut that are as big as bears. Let's go fishing for those sometime."
"Halibut as big as bears? Well, I will definitely have to go."
The two of us were able to communicate well about our shared hobbies of hunting and fishing. At one point, we each felt we had so much to say to the other that we just started talking like old friends meeting after a long separation. Our laughter echoed around the dining room.
I also talked about Mount Kumgang.
"I went to Mount Kumgang, and it really is a beautiful mountain," I said. "It needs to be developed as atourism destination for our people."
"Mount Kumgang will be an asset to our unified homeland," he said. "So I have made sure that only certain people can touch it. If it's developed in the wrong way, it could be ruined. You have an international eye, and I could trust someone like you to take it over and develop it for us." President Kim went so far as to ask that we consider developing Mount Kumgang together.
Mr. President," I said, "you are older than I, so you are like my older brother." He responded, "Chairman Moon, from now, let's refer to each other as older brother and younger brother," and he grasped my hand tightly.
He and I held each other's hand as we walked down the hallway and took commemorative photographs. Then I left the residence.
After I had gone, I was told that President Kim told his son, Kim Jong Il, "Chairman Moon is a great man. I have met many people in my life, but none were like him. He has a broad scale of thinking, and he overflows with heart. I felt close to him. It made me feel good to be with him, and I wanted him to stay for a long time. I want to meet him again. After I die, if there are things to discuss pertaining to North-South relations, you must always seek the advice of Chairman Moon."
So it seemed that we had communicated very well.
Soon after I ended my week-long stay and left Pyongyang, Prime Minister Hyung Muk Yeon led a North Korean delegation to Seoul. Prime Minister Yeon signed an agreement to de-nuclearize the Korean peninsula. On January 30 of the following year, North Korea signed a nuclear safe-safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, thus fulfilling the commitments that President Kim had made to me. There is more work to do, but these were the results I accomplished by going to Pyongyang at the risk of my life.
LOVE WILL BRING UNIFICATION
The Land May Be Divided but Not Its People
The Korean peninsula is one of the last remaining divided countries on earth. We have the responsibility to unify the peninsula. We cannot pass a divided homeland on to our decendants. It is impermissible that a single people should be divided and for peace-loving people to be unable to see their parents or siblings. The line that divides North and South Korea was drawn by human beings. Land can be divided that way, but not people. That we do not forget each other and continue to yearn for each other even after some sixty years of separation shows that we are one people.
The Korean people were traditionally known as "people of white clothing," because of the color of our traditional clothes. White is the symbol of peace, and our people are people of peace. During the time of the Japanese occupation, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese lived in Manchuria and Siberia, sometimes helping each other and at other times killing each other. Throughout that time, Koreans never carried swords or knives as did the Japanese and Chinese. Instead, we carried flint rocks. Lighting fires in the frozen land of Manchuria and Siberia was a way of protecting life.
This is the kind of people we are. We respect Heaven, uphold moral principles, and love peace. Our people shed much blood during the time of the Japanese occupation and the Korean War. This, however, did not bring about the unification of our country or the establishment of a sovereignty of peace. Our country was broken at the waist into two pieces, and half became a dark world of communism.
We need unification to restore the sovereignty of our people. We must end the division between North and South so we can have peace.Only after we first accomplish peaceful unification and restore our sovereignty can we bring peace to the world.
The Korean People were created to bring peace to the world. Everything has a name, and names have meaning. Our traditional white garments are easy to see, both by day and night. White is good to use for signs during the night because it is easy to see in the dark. In the same way, our people are destined to convey messages of peace around the world, both day and night.
North and South are divided by a ceasefire line, but this is not the problem. Once we remove that line, we will find an even larger barrierbetween us and Russia and China. For our people to enjoy true peace, we will need to overcome those ceasefire lines as well. It will be difficult, but it is not impossible. Theimportant thing is our own attitude.
I believe that when a person sweats, he should sweat every last drop that he has in him. He should sweat even the last little bit that is in his heart. That way, he will have no regrets, and everything will become clean and set in order. The same is true when we attempt anything difficult. The difficulty will end only when you have gained victory at every stage, and everything has been made clear. Whatever you are dealing with needs to be completely put in order. Then it can bear fruit. We cannot restore our people's full sovereignty without going through such tearful difficulties.
Today, many people talk about peaceful unification. I, however, spoke about this at a time when people did not dare even use the phrase "peaceful unification," for fear of being charged with violating the Anti-Communist Law and the National Security Law. Today, when people ask me what must be done to bring about unification, I tell them what I have always said on this matter: "If South Koreans love North Korea more than they love the South, and North Koreans love South Korea more than they love the North, we could unify the peninsula today."
I was able to risk my life to go the North Korea in 1991 and meet President Kim because I had a foundation of such love within me. I made agreements then with him regarding meetings of separated families. North-South economic cooperation, development of Mount Kumgang, de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and working toward a North-South summit conference. No one thought an anticommunist could go to a communist country and open the floodgate of unification, but I surprised the world.
Before my meeting with President Kim, I delivered a two-hour address titled, "Blood Is Thicker Than Water," at the Mansudae Assembly Hall, seat of the Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's legislature. I spoke that day to the leadership of North Korea about a way to unify North and South through love. I stood before the leadership of North Korea, who were armed with Kim Il Sung's philosophy, and told them exactly what I believed.
"North and South must be unified," I said, "but guns and swords will not make us one. North-South unification will not happen with military force. Even the Korean War failed in this respect, and it is foolish for anyone to think they can make another attempt through military force. Neither will unification happen with the Juche ideology that you espouse. What will do it, then? The world does not operate only by the power of human beings. Because God exists, nothing can be done by human effort alone. Even in situations of evil, such as war, God carries out His providence. That is why North and South cannot be unified through the Juche ideology that puts man at the center.
"Bringing about a unified homeland can be done only with Godism," I continued. "God is protecting us, and our time of unification is coming. Unification is the destiny; it is the task that must be accomplished in our era. If we cannot accomplish the sacred task of unifying the homeland in our time, we will not be able to hold our heads high in the presence of our ancestors or descendants for the rest of eternity.
"What is Godism? It is the practice of God's perfect love. Neither the right wing nor the left wing can unify North and South. It will be possible ony when there is a 'headwing thought' that is able to harmonize these two.
"To travel the path of love, you must apologize before the world for your invasion of the South. I understand that North Korea has planted twenty thousand resident espionage agents in the South. Send an order immediately to all of them, instructing them to turn themselves in to the South Korean authorities. If you do that, I will give them an education that will rectify their ideology and turn them into patriots who will contribute to the peaceful unification of North and South."
I pounded on the table in front of me as I spoke. The expressions of Mr. Yun Ki Bok and Vice Premier Kim Dal Hyun grew tense. I was aware of what dangers I might be exposed to for making such statements, but I needed to say what I had come to say. I was not simply trying to shock the audience. I knew that my speech would be reported immediately, word for word, to President Kim and his son, Chairman Kim Jong Il. So I wanted to state my purpose clearly.
When I finished, some of the North Koreans present even protested, demanding to know how I could dare to speak in such a manner. I looked at my entourage and saw that their faces were white. Our members who were with me told me: "The speech had a very strong tone, and the atmosphere of the audience was not good."
I was adamant, however. "Why did I come here?" I asked them. "I didn't come to see the land of North Korea. If I were to leave here without saying what needed to be said, Heaven would punish me. Even if today's speech is used by them as an excuse to deny me a meeting with President Kim and to expel us from the country, I still needed to say what I came to say."
On July 8, 1994, President Kim suddenly died. His death came when North-South relations were at an all-time low. Patriot missiles had been deployed on South Korean soil, and hawks in the United States advocated the destruction of nuclear facilities in Yeongbyon. It appeared that war might break out at any time.North Korea announced it would not receive any mourners from outside the country, but I feltit was important we send someone. I wanted to fulfill my obligation, as I had formed a brotherly relationship with President Kim.
I called Bo Hi Pak. "Go immediately to North Korea as my representative to mourn President Kim's death." I said.
No one can get into North Korea now, he said.
"I know it's difficult, but somehow you have to go. I don't care if you have to swim across the Yalu River. Get in there and convey my condolences."
Bo Hi Pak first traveled to Beijing and risked his life to communicate with North Korea. Then, Chairman Kim Jong Il gave the instruction, "An exception will be made for a mourning representative from Chairman Moon. Escort him to Pyongyang."
After condolences had been expressed, Chairman Kim Jong Il met with Bo Hi Pak and politely greeted him, saying, "My father always said that Chairman Moon was working hard for the unification of our homeland. I am glad you came."
In 1994, the Korean peninsula was in such a crisis that itcould have exploded at any time. In that moment, we were able to resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula because of the relationship I had formed with President Kim Il Sung. Sending a representative to express my condolences was not a simple matter of mourning.
I described my meeting with President Kim in considerable detail to illustrate my point about the importance of faith and loyalty between two people. I met him for the sake of the peaceful unification of our homeland. I was able to convey my concerns for the destiny of our people with faith and loyalty. As a result, after his death, his son, Chairman Kim Jong Il, accepted our mourning representative. There is no wall that cannot be scaled and no dream that cannot be realized when we share our love with a sincere heart.
When I went to North Korea, I thought of it as my homeland and the home of my brother. I didn't go there with a desire to get something from them. I went with the purpose to share with them my heart of love. The power of love touched not only President Kim Il Sung but also his son. Chairman Kim Jong Il. Since then, and continuing to this day, we have maintained a special relationship with North Korea. Each time North-South relations become difficult, we have played a role in opening the gateway. It is all based on the fact that I met with President Kim Il Sung, conveyed to him my sincere heart, and built a relationship of trust with him. That is the importance of trust.
Following my meeting with President Kim, we now operate the Pyeonghwa Motors plant, the Potonggang Hotel, and the World Peace Center in North Korea. There are billboards for Pyeonghwa Motors around Pyongyang. When the South Korean president visited North Korea, North Korean officials took him to the Pyeonghwa Motors plant. South Korean business leaders who accompanied the president stayed at the Potonggang Hotel. Non-North Korean members of our church who work in North Korea gather at the World Peace Center each Sunday for worship service.
All of these projects are efforts for the sake of peaceful exchanges and unification of North and South. They are not being done to make a profit. They are efforts to contribute to the unification of North and South as an expression of love for the Korean people.
LOVE WILL BRING UNIFICATION
Not By Guns or Swords, but by True Love
It is not just the ceasefire line that divides people. The Youngnam and Honam regions are also divided by an invisible line. Also, Koreans who live in Japan are divided between the Korean Residents Union in Japan, or Mindan, who are pro-South Korea, and the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, who are pro-North Korea. The conflict between the two organizations in Japan is based on the hometowns of their respective members. Second and third-generation Korean residents in Japan, who have never been to their parents' hometowns, still live in conflict with each other, as they live within the lines drawn by their parents. The members of the two organizations use slightly different language, send their chidlren to different schools, and do not intermarry.
In 2005, I put into effect my long-cherished plan to create oneness among Koreans in Japan, as well as among Koreans in the Youngnam and Honam regions. I invited one thousand members of Mindan and one thousand members of Chongryon to Seoul, and matched them in sisterhood and brotherhood relationships to one thousand people from the Youngnam region and one thousand people from the Honam region.
It is next to impossible for Chongryon and Mindan to sit down together in Japan and talk about the peaceful unfication of North and South. The task of gathering these people in one place was difficult, but it was deeply moving to me to see them sitting together and embracing each other.
One Chongryon official at the event was visiting Seoul for the first time. He spoke in tears as he commented that he deeply regretted the many years he had spent fighting a war that was not his own, particularly as he was not even certain which part of the peninsula his father actually came from. He said he felt immeasurably ashamed for having lived his life with a meaningless line of division drawn in his heart.
To fully understand the division of the Korean peninsula and the conflict between the two sides, we must be able to look comprehensively at the past, present, and future. Every incident has a root cause. The division of the Korean peninsula was created by the history of struggles between good and evil. When the Korean War broke out, the Soviet Union, China, and other communist countries came to the aid of North Korea.
In a similar way, sixteen countries, led by the United States, sent armed forces to the aid of South Korea. Also, five countries sent medical teams, and twenty nations provided war supplies. What other war in history involved so many countries in the fighting? The reason that the entire world became involved in a war that took place in the tiny country of Korea is that this was a proxy war between the forces of communism and the forces of freedom. It could be said that Korea came to represent the world, and that good and evil fought fiercely on its soil.
Retired general and former U.S. Secretary of State the late Alexander Haig made an unexpected statement in his congratulatory remarks at the tenth anniversary of The Washington Times, celebrated in 1992.
"I am a veteran of the Korean War." he said. "As a commander, I was in charge of the attack against Heungnam, and we staged the strongest attack we could. I am deeply moved to hear that Reverend Moon was being held by the communists and was set free by that day's attack. It seems I was sent there to free Reverend Moon. Now, Reverend Moon is here to save America. The Washington Times is a newspaper that will save the American people by providing a balanced view of history that is neither right nor left, and show us the way forward. As we see, there is no such thing as coincidence in history."
A few years ago in Korea, there were people making the argument that the famous statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in an Incheon park should be removed. If United Nations forces had not joined the war effort, the country would not be divided between North and South, as it is today, this argument went. I was shocked to hear this, and spoke strongly against it. Such an argument can only be made from the position of the communist party of North Korea.
Great sacrifices were made on a global level, and yet the peninsula remains divided. We do not know the exact date when unification will come, but it is clear that we are making strong strides in that direction. There are many obstacles to be overcome on the road to unification. As we come face to face with each obstacle, we need to work to tear it down and then move on. Though it may take a long time and prove difficult, unification will absolutely come if we work with the same desperation we would have if we were swimming across the Yalu River.
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Romania resisted change the longest among the communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Then, at the end of 1989, Romania experienced a bloody uprising by its people. As soon as the regime was toppled. Nicolae Ceaucescu, who had ruled the country for twenty-four years, was executed, along with his wife. He was a brutal dictator who mercilessly massacred those who opposed his policies. In any country, one reason a dictator will tend to tighten his grip is that he fears for his life in the event he may lose power. I think that if a dictator can be certain that his own life will not be placed in danger, he will not go headlong down a dead-end street in the manner of Ceausescu.
Our country, too, will be unified before long, by one means or another. So politicians and economists need to make the necessary preparations to prepare to greet the unified Korea in which we can embrace North Korean people with love and share in a common peace.
I have studied the unification of Germany for a long time. I have listened to the experiences of those who were involved with regard to how it was that unification could come without a single bullet being fired or a single drop of blood being spilled. In so doing, my hope has been to find a way that is appropriate for Korea. I have learned that the main reason Germany could be unified peacefully was that East German leaders were made to understand that their lives would not be in danger following unification. If East German leaders had not believed this would be so, they would not have allowed unification to occur so easily.
I came to believe we need to have a similar understanding toward rulers of North Korea. A novel based on North Korea was published in Japan not long ago. In this book of fiction, the rulers of North Korea repeatedly watch a video of Ceausescu's execution and cry out, "That is what will happen to us if we lose power. Under no circumstances can we lose our hold on power!"
Of course, that is only a novel published in Japan. We should, however, devote our attention to this real problem and find a solution for North Korean leaders, to bring about Korea's speedy unification.
Building a world of peace on the Korean peninsula is not as difficult as we may think. When South Korea lives fully for the sake of North Korea, North Korea will not try to fight the South, and peace will come naturally to the peninsula.
The power that can move a rebellious child is not the fist or brute power. It is the power of love that wells up naturally from within the heart. More than rice or fertilizer, it is important for us to give love to North Korea. We must never forget that it is only when we consider North Korea's situation and live for its sake with a loving and sincere heart that the North will open its heart to us and the world.
H a k J a H a n
'As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen'
('As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen'
end of Chapter Five: Loving Families Can Change the World
My Wife, Hak Ja Han Moon - p. 190-231
and Chapter Six: Love Will Bring Unification