ev. Sun Myung Moon has experienced many challenges in his public life, but they only strengthened his conviction and faith in God’s love. Rev. Moon managed to overcome "the boundaries of self to conform to the spiritual mandate to live for the sake of others." He was able to forgive his enemies and even reconcile with them. Unfortunately, too many people who experience hardships, tragedies and betrayals become resentful and are not able to reconcile. Very few achieve during their lifetime as much as Rev. Moon has.
Since 1988 I have been involved in helping Children of Chernobyl, the victims of the biggest man-made accident in the world. As a board member of the Belarusian Fund for the Children of Chernobyl, I met many people from different countries, but two individuals were very special. It turned out that they both belong to the Unification movement: Nancy (Nadya) Neal from Seattle, Washington, and Mark Boitano from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
At that time, I resided in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Belarus got seventy percent of all radioactivity fallout after the Chernobyl disaster on April 26, 1986. Nancy and Mark were among the first U.S. citizens who arrived in Belarus to provide humanitarian assistance and moral support. They showed the real meaning of living for the sake of others from the first days of our acquaintance. I was lucky because Rev. Moon’s ideas were introduced to me through close friends rather than through the mass media. I agree with Dr. Kailash Puri, London Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, who said: "Rev. Moon has been misunderstood. The activities and organizations he has started prove to me that he is a man dedicated to bringing faith communities to reconcile."
In 1996 I moved with my family to Canada and started teaching linguistics, communication, education and cognitive sciences at Simon Fraser University in British Colombia, where I got a chance to better understand Rev. Moon’s ability to inspire hope and promote reconciliation.
I was fascinated by Rev. Moon’s belief in a true family as the basic institution of society. Unfortunately, where I was from, the family was not the key institution. Some members of almost every family in the former USSR were arrested, exiled and sometimes executed. My father was exiled to a labor camp for four very hungry years. My grandparents were exiled to Siberia, where my grandfather died of hunger. My father’s brother was arrested in 1937 and executed in 1940. Thus, Rev. Moon’s focus on family is close to my heart.
Rev. Moon asked some commonsense questions: "Why is there so much family breakdown? Why do mothers, fathers and children become enemies?" His response surprised me because of its simplicity: "Because they do not have true love." It sounds simplistic, but love is the backbone of everything: literature, family life, and human life, in general. I want the peoples in the war zones of Bosnia, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, North Korea, Iran and some African countries to hear Rev. Moon’s message. Hate among family members, neighbors, different races, religions or countries, whether it is based on race, religion, ideology, envy or just misunderstanding, will never bring peace.
Rev. Moon knows that there is no alternative to peace in the family or between nations. The ability to forgive and reconcile ("love your enemy") is the first step on the road to peace. The next steps are dialogue that fosters understanding, willingness to compromise, and finding commonalities.
Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize winner and peace activist in the U.S., said in his book No More War, "I should like to see in our cabinet a Secretary for Peace, with a budget of billions of dollars per year, perhaps as much as 10 percent of the amount now expended for military purposes." (pp. 216-17) But if Linus Pauling dreams about opposing the evils of war, Rev. Moon not only calls for a new model of global governance, he inspires thousands of individuals to participate in his peace initiatives. Thousands of Ambassadors for Peace and religious leaders from all faiths have journeyed to Israel and Palestine to urge the divided sides to engage in serious dialogue and to unite in peace. It was very moving to watch Muslim and Jewish Ambassadors for Peace from Palestine and Israel hugging each other in Jerusalem in a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Rev. Moon is not one to sit back and watch the narrowing of windows of peace. He launched the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in the spirit of true love on September 12, 2005 in response to the escalation of war and terrorism. Rev. Moon is a man of word and a man of action: "Even if it costs me my life," he said, "I will not hold back." And he never held back. He and his family shared the message of true love with people in 180 countries. Too many people, including leaders of some powerful countries, try to force other countries to accept their understanding of democracy and export their views, sometimes by military intervention.
The goals of the UN and UPF are very close, but there are big differences in methods. These differences are linked to the principles of true love and to the Ambassadors for Peace from all walks of life and faiths who have dedicated themselves to the cause of peace and living for the sake of others. This principle is key for civil society and NGOs. I praise the efforts of Rev. Moon to unite governments and civil society to solve critical problems.
Rev. Moon’s special focus on women’s roles in raising the family and fostering peace in the community and around the world has my 100 percent support. Politics has always been dominated by men, and as a result there have been more years of war than peace. I also believe that women might be much better Ambassadors for Peace than men. The interfaith and interracial marriages that Rev. Moon promotes help bring together people from different nationalities, races and cultures.
This vision can help heal many types of conflict such as Canada’s handling of First Nation people. There was no "true love" when the children of First Nation families were sent to residential schools. First Nation people were prosecuted for practicing their traditions, and people started to lose hope, the meaning of life, the meaning of a family. Drinking problems and family violence became commonplace. This would never have happened if the principles inspired by Rev. and Mrs. Moon were followed.
Many Ambassadors for Peace in Western Canada have been inspired by Rev. Moon Some are helping the children of Iraq, Chernobyl and First Nation; others are involved in local human rights advocacy, religious activities, and women’s and youth movements. They are not passive. They initiate projects to foster peace or support projects of the Unification movement.
What I admire in Rev. Moon is his intention to make all of us partners in his holy work, not just passive followers. He has been working to bring together the two Koreas. This has inspired me as an educator to propose establishing twin Peace Colleges in South Korea and North Korea. We know that to build a political party, one should start from the grassroots. To build peace we should start by educating the children of those on opposite sides of the barricades. Peace Colleges can serve as embassies for peace, and its students can be Ambassadors for Peace between the two divided countries.
I am going to teach at the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University. Possible topics include Fostering Peaceful Solutions without Force; Interfaith Dialogue, Civil Society and Government; Dialogue as a Means of Building Character and Teaching Critical Thinking; War Zones and Interfaith Dialogue; and UN Renewal and Interfaith Dialogue. Some of these topics will fit the curricula of the proposed Peace Academy. It is time to encourage students not only to pursue personal and academic excellence but also to appreciate individual, cultural and religious differences; cultivate mature character and leadership skills; build successful relationships, marriages and families; and understand and value friendship, love, peacebuilding and altruism.
Rev. Moon’s focus on interreligious dialogue or polylogue for fostering good relations among peoples from all faiths has brought fruits. I do not know any other NGO where people are so united, willing to share, open to new ideas, and sincere about living for the sake of others without trying to satisfy their narrow material interests. These relationships are rooted in the courageous and visionary leadership of Rev. Moon and other leaders.
Rev. Moon has said: "Thinking you may die tomorrow is the wisest way to live your life" (Earthly Life and Spirit, vol. I, p. 122). This is not just a deep spiritual or philosophical statement. It characterizes Rev. Moon himself. I think he is a great model for all of us to follow.