Speaker of the House, New Zealand (1993-96)
never cease to marvel at the technological developments which have occurred in my lifetime; there have been greater advances than at any similar period in history. As a student, it took me three days and three nights to travel by coal-fired steam train from my home to the university. My children can fly home for lunch. Computers and satellites have made it possible to converse with, or send pictures instantly to someone anywhere on the globe. We’ve seen a man walk on the moon. So called intelligent machines, robots can perform tasks which took men many hours to perform in a matter of minutes.
But whereas technology’s rapid advance has brought us into a new age, we have not developed the disciplines which will allow us to use these developments wisely and for the good of humankind. Technology has helped us with our work, but it has sometimes freed us from those constraints which allowed communication to function peacefully and productively. We have been able to ignore some age-old moral values which made for peaceful coexistence. Science has sometimes led us away from the basic fact that we humans are spiritual beings.
Moreover, the advent of the new technology has magnified the economic imbalance both within and between nations. Those countries which own the new skills are becoming richer by the day; those without them are becoming poorer. Even within the richest western nations there is a widening gap between its richest and its poorest citizens. If this divergence of wealth continues, it is unlikely that the universal desire for peace will be fulfilled soon.
Not so long ago, there were some who predicted that the increase in the world population would bring about food shortages and even famine. But advances in agri-science have seen food production in most countries increase to the stage where they are sometimes embarrassed by gross surpluses. One of our major domestic problems in western countries is now obesity.
One might well be forgiven in this new age of technology and scientific achievement, where humankind is spared much heavy manual labor and there is no shortage of food, for thinking that peace would reign worldwide and happiness would be universal. Sadly this has not been the case.
Since the Second World War, strife has continued almost unabated. Israel and the surrounding Arab states are constantly at war. There is no sign of a peaceful settlement in Kashmir. The presence of oil has seen the Middle East constantly in turmoil, with widespread death and destruction currently occurring in Iraq. Some countries remain divided and ruled by different ideologies, for example Korea, where each side must maintain sizeable armies, the people of the South living in constant confrontation with the North. Even within some states, religious and culturally diverse groups are continually in conflict. 9/11 brought home to everyone the ease with which terrorists can cross national boundaries and kill innocent people.
At the purely local level we have seen the rise of the so called "dysfunctional home." In my country a large number of young people no longer marry, they simply cohabit as "partners." More than half of all unions end in separation, often bitter and acrimonious. It is the children who bear the brunt of this discord, and we are beginning to realize that children who grow in a solo parent home are disadvantaged. Physical and sexual abuse in the home has become commonplace. The problem is that a growing number of children in this generation are growing up believing that violence is acceptable.
All of this brings us to the inevitable conclusion that to bring about peace is the major task of our time, and I have greatly admired the teachings of the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon with regard to the ways in which some of the violence which besets us can be overcome.
After the Second World War the victors created an international forum, the UN, where disputes could be debated and hopefully settled peacefully. The US, the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China were the major players. It would not be true to say that the UN has done no good, but it has clearly failed to settle many ongoing disputes. In part that is because the UN is a "conclave of ambassadors" each committed to promoting the view of his or her government irrespective of the debate. Moreover, by its very nature, the UN makes no provision for views of the major religions or cultural groups, and in nearly every major conflict religious and cultural differences have been paramount.
Rev. Moon has proposed a "second house" at the UN composed of representatives of the major religious and cultural groups. This would ensure that the UN can fulfill a wider and hopefully more successful role in dealing with international and even intra-national dispute. It is a message which deserves much greater recognition.
Rev. Moon has constantly promoted the family as the basic unit of a happy and peaceful society. He is clear that the ideal family consists of a man and a woman, their children and the grandparents—the "three-generational family." In today’s world that is not always a popular teaching. Many young people resent the disciplines of family life, but these disciplines are essential to a good and harmonious society.
On the occasions when I have been privileged to hear Rev Moon, I have been impressed that his teachings provide a way in which we can pursue the universal desire for peace. My own view is that long after he has passed on, his messages will enjoy much greater recognition. His great contribution to us all will be his untiring overtures for peace.