e are living in an era of transition. The twentieth century was a century of division, conflict and struggle. It is the hope of humankind to see the end of this era and open up an era of peace and unity in the twenty-first century.
There have been turning points in every age of history. Saints such as Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha and Confucius led to the founding of major religions and brought great changes to history. They precipitated eras of great transition.
Other examples are the Renaissance, which spiritually liberated human beings from the darkness of the Middle Ages; the Religious Reformation; the Industrial Revolution, which brought changes to human life in the material dimension; the Democratic Revolutions; and the Enlightenment, when scholars and scientists made many discoveries about the earth. These were all eras of transition. The times before and after these transition periods were so different that we could call one an era of darkness and the other an era of light.
Our time is also a period of transition, with revolutionary developments in information and telecommunications technology centering on the Internet, scientific developments which promise to dramatically increase the lifespan of human beings, and new technologies such as digital engineering. These have both global and localized impact.
For the Korean people, the twentieth century was an era of suffering and of shackles. Caught in the competition between the European powers and expansionist nations, Korea was invaded by the Japanese Empire. Our land, our culture and even our names were taken from us. Finally, in a terrible bloody war, even our lives were taken from us. It was truly a time of blood and tears.
Throughout my life, following my scholar’s conscience, I have worked hard to develop an objective and universal approach to peace and unification. From the time I began to lecture at the university in 1959, at the age of twenty-eight, until I retired at the age of sixty-five, I was a guide to my students. I had a single-minded conviction that the only way for our nation to survive was for us to create a great "education nation." I put my efforts into developing a system of education for true human beings, guided by the thought that people need to become true people in order to contribute to peace and prosperity, in the family, society, nation and world.
When I worked as president of the Korean Federation of Teachers Associations, I emphasized the importance of families, schools and our entire society becoming a place of education. During these forty years of work in the field of education, my continual focus was on the reunification of Korea and world peace.
During the 1980s, I happened to come in contact with Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s "true love" approach to the reunification of the Korean peninsula, which was similar to what I had been thinking. His philosophy was very similar to the Moral Rearmament movement, which had held my interest since I was a youth. Moral Rearmament promotes absolute purity, absolute love, absolute honesty and absolute peace. Rev. Moon’s thought is something that anyone could agree with and be moved by, if they heard it.
I was deeply moved by his movement to educate Koreans about peaceful unification. I sympathized strongly with his goal of "peace and unity education" for the individual, family, society, ethnic group, nation and world, based on purity, true love and true families. I was filled with admiration for Rev. Moon’s incredible "force," transcendent insight, superhuman effort and vitality, and the respect he receives from people around the world.
In particular, I was profoundly touched by the peace movement that Rev. Moon has been leading for the sake of the peaceful reunification of Korea. I come from a family that was separated by the division of the Korean peninsula. In recent times, reunions of divided families have allowed many to meet family members living in the North.
My own mother lived to be 101, but she passed away before the reunions began. There was no opportunity for her to remove the pain in her heart caused by our family’s division. There are hundreds of thousands of such divided family members, many with the same tragic experience. The pain of our divided nation has to be resolved.
During the 1980s, when the anti-communist laws and national security laws in South Korea were so severe, it was all but impossible to talk about "peaceful unification." Nevertheless, Rev. Moon pushed for a "true love federation of North and South Korea." In 1991, he met with Chairman Kim Il Sung and reached agreement on a number of pending issues, such as the reunion of divided families, economic cooperation, the development of the Keumkang (Diamond Peaks) mountain range, a non-nuclear policy for the Korean peninsula, and prospects for a summit between the leadership of the North and the South.
When I had the chance to visit Pyongyang, I could see the cars produced by Pyeonghwa Motors driving through the streets. Pyeonghwa Airlines opened a new era in North-South exchanges by opening a way for travelers from the South to visit Pyongyang and other key regions in the North.
Exchanges on a private and social level are preparing a foundation for reunification. Cultural exchanges have taken place centering on the Little Angels Performing Parts troupe, and five peace seminars have brought together students from North and South Korea.
Rev. Moon has been bringing reconciliation between the pro-North Korea Cho Ch’ong Ryon group (often called Chosen Soren in Japan) and the pro-South Korea Mindan group in Japan. Viewing their half century of struggle as a microcosm of the conflict between North and South Korea, Rev. Moon brought these two groups together. Such an accomplishment is no mean feat. When I was deputy chairman of the Democratic Peaceful Unification Advisory Board, I tried to promote that reconciliation but without success. As an academic working hard for peaceful reunification, I could not but be moved by Rev. Moon’s success. And yet his work on the Korean peninsula is only a small part of the work he is doing for the sake of world peace.
The twentieth century was an era of war, when the logic of power reigned. Through two world wars and then the Cold War, history was marred by struggle and conflict. Even though the Cold War is over, conflicts continue around the world due to differences of ethnicity and religion, or through the clash of civilizations. Millions of people suffer from poverty and disease as a result of violence. Worse, the amount of money spent on the military efforts in 2005 exceeded US$1,000 billion.
The terrorist attacks on the U.S. and Britain changed the paradigm for peace. Whereas we once thought of peace as something temporary or limited, we now realize that we need lasting, comprehensive peace that all humanity can enjoy. To build such peace requires the efforts of all peoples and all nations.
During the Cold War, humanity anticipated that the United Nations would play an important role in achieving world peace. However, even after the Cold War, the UN, centering on the powerful nations, has a limited ability to build a peaceful world. As conflicts erupt across the globe, the UN cannot transcend self-centered nationalism and the selfish interests of powerful nations.
To encourage the UN to fulfill its proper role, Rev. Moon initiated a movement for UN renewal. Just as he emphasizes that the United States should play a certain role for the sake of the world, Rev. Moon criticizes the UN for its inability to transcend the interests of powerful nations and self-centered nationalism.
The fruit of this movement is the Universal Peace Federation, inaugurated by Rev. Moon as a "Peace UN" beyond religious and national boundaries. Pointing out that nations and religions are often the greatest causes of conflict and barriers to peace, Rev. Moon has advocated transcending national boundaries and unifying religions.
Despite his advanced years, Rev. Moon launched speaking tours to pass on this message of peace, in keeping with his single-minded focus on world peace, despite all the ups and downs of his life. He cannot stop moving, because he isn’t motivated by fame or by fortune. As he always emphasizes, true love, that lives for the sake of others, doesn’t seek reward. True love means giving and forgetting. This is the foundation of his peace movement.
As president of the headquarters of Ambassadors for Peace, I see a great potential. Ambassadors for Peace in Korea and around the world are dedicated to this work. The 20,000 or so Ambassadors for Peace in Korea are developing Ambassadors for Peace associations in all regions, cities, districts and municipalities, promoting an unselfish and altruistic lifestyle centering on true love that will benefit our communities. I believe that when this movement penetrates all levels of our society, we will be able to overcome the strife between regions, generations and ideologies.
I appreciate Rev. Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for all the efforts they have made as True Parents and true teachers for the sake of humanity’s peace and prosperity. I dedicate myself to this movement that is building a world without war or violence.