By John Redmond
My niece recently had a baby. My family and I went to see him after they recovered from the first wave of family visits. The great thing about a baby is that although he is tiny, all the pieces are there. He is in the formation stage.
In contrast, I have a teenager. Since he’s been gone for a few weeks, we’ve saved $15 or $20 a week on milk bills. He is not tiny at all; in fact, he’s pretty big.
When my kids were little and I said that clouds were made of dandelion fuzz that floated up and clumped together, they believed me because I was their dad. However, when they become teenagers in the growth stage, you can tell them the absolute truth and they won’t believe it. “Yes, that T-shirt looks really ugly, don’t wear it.” They wear it anyway. Your position shifts and your relationship changes. In the growth period, all relationships shift and there is a different approach to how good things happen.
All things reach perfection (completion), after passing through a growth period, by the authority and power of God’s principle. So this experience, passing from the formation stage to growth stage and at some point on to the completion stage, is not unusual or weird; it’s how things are supposed to work.
We, however, often get locked into a snapshot. We forget that things are going through a growth period and get stuck in a concept that things will always be like this. So, your kid is six or seven years old and he behaves a certain way. As he grows up a little and starts behaving in a different way, it surprises you.
“What do you mean it’s your opinion, when did you start having opinions? I’m the dad, I have the opinions around here.” Nope, they start having their own opinions. They start to think for themselves, to experience things for themselves, to not tell you things. You start to realize that there is a lot going on here.
However, humans have this other thing called a “portion of responsibility” which complicates everything.
In the growth stage, there is a balance, a harmony, between God’s 95% and our 5%. Many times, when you are moved by compassion for people, you try to help them and you give them everything and they get worse. It doesn’t help. They have a portion of responsibility and if we encroach upon that portion of responsibility, we undercut their moral authority and responsibility. Wisdom requires that we approach each other carefully, that our relationship be carefully crafted. To support people without undercutting them, to uplift people without dragging them up — it’s a delicate dance.
Think about Adam and Eve. I heard that the Fall took place over three years; it wasn’t just a sudden event, but a series of choices that took them further and further away from God. Your decision culminates in a single moment, but it starts when you veer away from your original mind and heart, separating from goodness. A set of choices, a set of decisions made under your free will, under your control, takes you away from integrity.
We can make mistakes. If you don’t try stuff, you’ll never make a mistake, but if you don’t try, you’ll never grow.
The growth period is a scary, chaotic thing, and there are a lot of ways to do it wrong. But there is a lot of grace for those who keep reaching out.
Not only individuals go through a growth period. Think about a young couple who just got married. After they cut the cake and get the presents and send the thank you notes, their marriage enters the growth period. They are learning to love each other, to have two people in the same house, spending money out of the same checkbook, preferring different things and balancing those things. They are not dealing with one free will, but two. Every decision is complicated by two stubborn, opinionated people with divine free will. The good news is that a marriage can thrive and blossom and be naturally beautiful in the growth stage.
If families go through growth periods, how about more complex organizations like religious movements? For our Movement, the life of the founder, Reverend Moon, was the formation stage. Now we are entering the growth stage. Christianity took 400 years after the death of Jesus for the growth stage and then it leveled off. But the first 400 years after the death of its founder was when that church became something meaningful for the world.
There is an opportunity for our church to go through this growth stage we are facing with brilliance, passion, verve, and style. There is also an opportunity for us to become video game players, shut the door, turn the music up, slouch at the dinner table, and mumble to the relatives. We have the chance to be badly behaved adolescents as a movement or we can actually surprise and delight our parents.
If you put the current phase of our movement in that perspective, then we have not just a responsibility, but an opportunity. In the growth period, you can experience greatness and plant the seeds for future greatness. A lot of people are discouraged by the state of our church and they miss Father because he kind of had it all mapped out. But it is not God’s plan for you to be forever in the formation stage.
Since we have free will, we need to step out and try stuff; we need to make new relationships, we have to try new things, we have to win people’s hearts, not because “mom said so,” but because it’s the right thing to do.
If we put ourselves in perspective, we have an opportunity before us to create a great history-making movement. It’s not over because Father died; it’s just beginning. All the rules that you learned as a child do not get you to greatness; they get you to survival. At the top of the growth stage, you blossom, thrive, and dig in, and see what you are really made of.
Reverend Sun Myung Moon speaking at holy rock at Belvedere, Tarrytown, NY, in 1973.
We are just at the beginning of the growth stage in our movement and Father is not going to come from spirit world to talk to you about it. He already talked to you — he talked for countless hours, and you’re already not doing what he said.
So here we are. We don’t have much competition because if you read the news, very few people are striving to be great in our culture. They are trying to be popular or rich. That’s different than being great. The field is wide open for people who want to be great.
The growth period: In our religion it is often scary. It is where people go to die. But in my opinion, the growth period is where people should go to blossom, thrive and become.
I don’t know what that looks like for you and I don’t care. As long as you’re thriving, it’s contagious and that’s what’s really needed. Start to make things happen. That’s our mission.
I think we mourned Father long enough. Now it is time to honor him by actually making his dreams come true and protecting God from the evils of man.♦
John Redmond is CFO of UTS. He is the proud father of four interesting children, and has high expectations for the American Unification movement.
Perfection is a process…not an event.
John… I was with you and cheering for your message until you wrote:
“We are just at the beginning of the growth stage in our movement and Father is not going to come from spirit world to talk to you about it. He already talked to you —- he talked for countless hours, and you’re already not doing what he said.”
Was it really necessary to turn your effective story into a sermon? And then judge people, whom you do not know at all by telling them that they are not doing what Father said to do?
Unfortunately, this kind of remark can completely destroy the intent of your message. We’ve all, for the most part, had our bouts as rebellious teenagers, and finding one’s identity often means striking out against the grain to find one’s voice. Appreciation of who our physical parents are and were takes time, at least for me, so getting to an honest appreciation of True Parent’s real identity probably involves some level of rebellion and developing one’s own unique personality, as well. It’s what you call the growth stage, is it not?
Have faith that God can work even if things are not going the way you know they should go. After all, you’re just the little God, right? The Bigger God can see the whole picture more clearly.
I think it will work out. We just need to believe.
I agree that the growth stage applies to organizations and societies as much as it does to individuals, and that not understanding this has not only been a serious problem for our movement but for the world at large, and democracies in particular. The formation stage can be associated with absolutism. A baby is absolutely dependent and parent’s rules are taken as absolute. Most societies start out like gangs, with a strong leader offering protection for gang members. The exception has been the “good king” which many formation-stage individuals have sought through history.
Teenagers compare their inherited world to the world outside. They develop concepts of rights and justice, and at the beginning of the growth stage this comparison is self-centered: “Why does she get more than me?” One-person, one-vote democracies are a reflection of the beginning of the growth stage political system — the negotiation of wants. The U.S. founders recognized that such democracies fail and the citizens who are self-supporting and responsible are necessary, and the one-person, one-vote democracy was tempered with principles in the U.S. Constitution. This was a near-the-top of the growth stage social organization, but it has been moving backwards towards the formation stage at least for the last century.
A completion stage organization is one based on voluntary responsibility and is organized in ways that do not allow leadership that behaves outside the bounds of Principle. In this regard, I would expect a further tempering of one-person, one-vote democracies by more principles than the U.S. founders put into governance. However, consensus on such principles is difficult to achieve, because they relate to values that religions have promoted, and today inherited religion is not an adequate foundation for thought in the modern scientific world. What is required is an understanding of social principles that people can agree on like they could eventually agree that the earth revolves around the sun — where speculation is replaced with higher knowledge.
Reverend Moon came to America with an attempt to unify religious and scientific values in a way that could raise a declining America to the top of the growth stage. His support for interreligious dialogue, the unity of science and values, PWPA professors teaching values in education, and an interreligious body at the UN are all a reflection of this effort.
I agree that the Unification Movement, as a movement, reflects a lot of value confusion as we leave the security of True Parents as absolute leaders. However, individual members have been trained in a way that gives them the heart of the mythical “good king.” They do not live for themselves, even thought they are very ideologically confused when it comes to social organization. A primary 2020 goal should be to work through this confusion to promote social principles that can be accepted by all religions and science. But part of this will be learning to apply unified values to our own society.
If you look at the behavior of various organizations from a growth stage perspective, it is easy to find faults in others — acts of violence by ISIS, corruption in Washington, individuals “milking the system,” etc. But complaining about these things or just pointing them out, as our news media does, is a sign of growth stage awareness, not maturity. Maturity is the ability to not only love others with equal worth, but to understand the principles within which society must work if it is to function well and peacefully. Part of this is getting everyone in the society to the perfection stage, part of it getting the principles of social organization to the perfection stage.
I’ve come to believe that perfection is a myth (or unreachable goal/star) and not just because of the song. But, as immature as that may or may not be, I do find the unification dream, inescapably intriguing. However, where does the notion of “protecting God from the evils of man” derive, originally? Is it true, that to reach “perfection” one must view the entire universe in such topsy-turvy fashion? 🙂 Well, count this counterculturalist in, absolutely, as one who truly does continue to find some odd resonance with such. God bless God.
In June, a friend on Facebook posted this about Rev. Young Whi Kim: “I remember him apologizing several times in his talks for poor translations of the Divine Principle for which he feels responsible. For example, he said ‘perfect’ really ought to have been translated ‘mature/responsible’.”
I believe this is very important and it made me wonder what other important words in the DP may have been mistranslated.
I too feel that “perfection” is an unreachable goal. Maturity on the other hand, has a whole other energy to it and feels more like something that, with time and experience, can be reached.
There are many points in this blog post. However, I will comment on the one that made me think the most: the notion of doing something great in our lifetime.
What does that mean, practically speaking? One way of answering this question would be to say that, since we are all unique microcosms of the Macrocosm, all of us have unique talents and abilities which, when developed, can make a difference. So let us encourage each other to bring out our talent, accomplish our dreams in our field of choice. People who are living their dream and those who are in their “element” — referring to the book of the same name by Sir Ken Robinson — will be magnets to those looking for a meaning in life.
I came across a quote from Buckminster Fuller today that illustrates this point:
“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”
“For our Movement, the life of the founder, Reverend Moon, was the formation stage. Now we are entering the growth stage.” What do you really mean? On May 19, 1984, he told us how to become a second Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Isn’t that speech to be remembered all the time until CIG is established?
Becoming a second Reverend Moon refers to personal growth and development. The movement, which is a society, also has a growth period. During the life of Reverend Moon, it was the movement that was at the formation stage, not Reverend Moon, or individuals who had reached higher stages of personal growth. We need to distinguish between individuals and societies.
Perfection is tricky, and is all an issue of perception. There are those who perceive perfection as flawless, and those who perceive it as being flawed, living in full awareness of one’s flaws, and accepting them. Personally, I believe that one should be the change that he/she desires to see. Growth as a society begins when individuals who are working towards the change come together. Reprimanding those still in the phase of personal growth does not speed up their process. If anything, it is a hindrance. Don’t strive to be flawless. Seeing these members as flawed serves to ostracize them, and I am sure that is directly against the teachings of tolerance. Accept and be aware of those still in the stage of personal growth, and at the same time encourage them through it. Every adolescent flourishes better with an understanding parent.