The End of Accusation: Unificationist Lessons from the Dreyfus Affair

By Laurent Ladouce

A Unificationist heart cherishes reconciliation and abhors accusation.

If we connect with God’s heart, practice true love and attend our Heavenly Parent, we include others. Working to extinguish controversies, antagonism and accusation, we think and work together.

I honestly worry that this spirit of reconciliation may desert our Unification movement. I sadly see that some Unificationists have chosen their camp, loathing others’ opinions and promoting polarization.

We remember the work of CAUSA in the 1980s, where we had a clear enemy (Marxism-Leninism) and a cause. Many Unificationists still seek a crusade against a foe. This takes priority over building the ideal world. I proudly worked for CAUSA International, but I must say, “Times have changed.”

This essay sketches a Unificationist overview of accusation. But to place matters in a certain context, I also explain what happens when the demons of accusation haunt a rational society.

*    *    *    *    *

Today, accusation is raging everywhere, fueled by social media. If this culture of indignation becomes mainstream, it may block God’s Providence. Unificationists who love righteousness should offer convincing alternatives to accusation. We should promote a counterculture of I admit where we honestly look at our portion of responsibility, instead of accusing others.

As an example, I discuss Alfred Dreyfus, the falsely accused (but eventually exonerated) French army officer, who became an icon of injustice, steadfastly maintained his innocence but who never accused anyone.

French journalist Émile Zola’s letter, I accuse…! , should be placed in the context of the Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906). In January 1898, L’Aurore (Dawn) published Zola’s open letter to the President of the French Republic. Zola accused several high-ranking officers of the French Army, and other officials, of falsely convicting Captain Alfred Dreyfus and of anti-Semitism, arguing that “the conviction of Alfred Dreyfus was based on false accusations of espionage and was a misrepresentation of justice.”

Zola appealed to international public opinion, using the mass media to defend an innocent man, in a charged atmosphere of nationalism, anti-Semitism and corruption. Zola had great courage. He was convicted of libel for publishing his letter and went into exile in London to avoid imprisonment and a large fine.

I admit versus I accuse

The 20th century was dominated by accusation and indignation. Totalitarian movements, in particular Marxism-Leninism, constantly leveled accusations. When the Cold War ended, the zeitgeist of perpetual accusation should have subsided. It did not.

Many circles still see accusation as the best weapon to defend a cause. Public indignation is thought to liberate us from vice. The legitimate #MeToo movement empowers millions of women worldwide; yet, it may also exacerbate the accusations of resentful feminists against men in general. Young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg sharply accuses global elites for their misdeeds against Planet Earth, and her youthful ardor in demonizing them often elicits sympathy. The tragic death of George Floyd only gave new impetus to cancel culture. Consequently, conservative circles also became radical in their accusations. Is this a good thing?

There also exists, worldwide, a movement which maintains, “I will accuse no more. I shall admit my responsibility to solve the problem. I may not cause iniquity directly, but acknowledge and profess my responsibility to build a better world.” Many men show genuine empathy for women. Scores of associations have showed, rather convincingly, that we can protect Mother Earth through constructive gradual steps without casting blame. Regarding racism, many voices plead that invoking cancel culture and emphasizing the notion of white privilege does not help. Prominent Black activists keep their distance from woke-ism and cancel culture. And indeed, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela wanted to bring all races together. I have a dream sounds quite different from I accuse.

Dreyfus’ twelve year course

Alfred Dreyfus’ 12 years of ordeal consisted of three stages of roughly four years each:

  • Degradation and deportation (1894-98)
  • Pardon and bitter freedom (1899-1902)
  • Dreyfus’ rehabilitation (1903-06)

Alfred Dreyfus painted for Vanity Fair, 1899.

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was born in Alsace, eastern France, in 1859. His Jewish family lived on Rue du Sauvage (Savage Street) in Mulhouse. This odd name is all the more striking when we know the awful conditions Dreyfus endured during his four-year internment on Devil’s Island (best known to many from the Papillon films), as he approached the age of 40.

In 1871, Germany annexed Alsace-Lorraine. Alfred Dreyfus was an ardent patriot. He spoke German fluently, but loved the French Republic and dreamed of the day when Alsace would be French again. After graduating from the prestigious École Polytechnique, Dreyfus began a brilliant career in the French Army. He married Lucie Hadamard from a wealthy Jewish family. The couple had two children and the Dreyfus family was happy and successful.

Degradation and deportation (1894-98)

In 1894, Dreyfus was charged with spying for Germany. The real traitor would later be identified as another military officer, Ferdinand Esterhazy, but Dreyfus had the profile to appear to be the traitor. The thin accusation which became central in the whole affair was based on a torn note (le bordereau) found by a French housekeeper spying for the French military in the German embassy in Paris. Initially, experts doubted the handwriting on the document belonged to Dreyfus. High-ranking officers then started to search for experts who were anti-Semitic in order to charge Dreyfus despite evidence to the contrary.

Moreover, anti-Semitic circles exploited leaks in the press to manipulate public opinion. Fearing for his position if the traitor was not quickly found and punished, the chief of staff of the French Army strongly insisted Dreyfus was guilty. After a short military trial, Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment on the infamous Devil’s Island, off the coast of French Guiana.

Still, the army hoped to obtain Dreyfus’s confession, but he kept pleading his innocence. He was thus punished even more strongly, during a ceremony of degradation held in early 1895. Before officers and 4,000 soldiers, and as the crowd shouted “Kill the Jews,” Dreyfus stood still, silent and dignified. He was stripped of all his symbols as a captain. The buttons of his jacket were pulled off, and finally a soldier took Dreyfus’s sword and broke it on his thigh. Dreyfus observed this humiliation with stoicism.

In minutes, Dreyfus lost his social dignity. Yet, he maintained impressive moral dignity. After being degraded, he shouted to other soldiers and the crowd his love for the army, for France, as well as proclaimed his innocence. He accused no one.

A depiction of the ceremonial degradation of Dreyfus.

On Devil’s Island, he had to live in a stone hut, the only prisoner on the island.

His guards were forbidden to speak with him. Initially, Dreyfus could see the ocean through the bars of his window. A high fence was thus built around the hut. He was then completely isolated from the Creation, not only from human beings. Moreover, he often had to sleep on his back, his feet shackled with an iron bar. As he approached the age of 40, Captain Dreyfus was treated like a beast in the hut of a savage.

According to Divine Principle, human beings fell from grace because an angel degraded them and cast them below the level of Creation, i.e., below the level of the plant and animal kingdom. It took thousands of years before the human being could leave the status of slave of slaves and recover the dignity of a slave, and then the dignity of a servant on God’s side. Shortly after they left Egypt, the Israelites received the words of God through Moses.

Innocent of any crime, Dreyfus was accused of being the most evil man. His detractors said he had pretended to be a patriot and a soldier, but only to work against France; this was the essence of the accusation. Dreyfus was born to betray, they said. Radical accusation always states that the enemy is intrinsically evil and is unredeemable.

Starting his journey toward rehabilitation from the rock bottom of hell on Devil’s Island, Dreyfus walked the path to freedom with resilience. This virtuous character was nurtured by the love and loyalty of his wife Lucie, and of Mathieu Dreyfus, his “admirable brother.” According to Divine Principle, Satan began to accuse humankind after two crimes had been committed in the Garden of Eden, one involving a couple (Adam and Eve) and one involving two brothers (Cain and Abel). Unificationism states we shall subjugate our ultimate accuser only by restoring brotherly love and conjugal love. Dreyfus was protected in the Garden of Hell by a wife’s love and a brother’s love, empowering him to read and to write. Indeed, Dreyfus was often weak, sometimes depressed, but he kept reading and writing. He once wrote:

“My dear Lucie, I cannot describe what I endured. Do you remember when I was telling you how happy we were? Everything in life went our way. Then, suddenly, there was a thunderbolt, and my brain is still shaken. A man like me, accused for the most awful crime that a soldier can commit! Still today, I see myself as the puppet of a terrible nightmare. But I keep hope in God and in justice, truth will finally prevail one day.’”

Pardon and bitter freedom (1899-1902)

While Dreyfus was imprisoned on Devil’s Island, Zola unexpectedly published I accuse…!, in January 1898 in Paris. Zola took great risks. The French army could not deter Zola and Colonel Picquart from shouting their indignation. Picquart, the new chief of the French Army’s intelligence section, was originally anti-Semitic and believed Dreyfus was guilty. When Picquart discovered the real traitor was Major Ferdinand Esterhazy, he changed. Esterhazy had been notorious for his life of forgery, debauchery, gambling, and embezzlement. Having accumulated huge debt, Esterhazy sold French military secrets to Major Schwartzkoppen, the German military attaché in Paris.

Whereas investigations into Dreyfus’s family consistently showed he had no vice, Esterhazy had a long record of corruption and immorality. Yet, the army protected Esterhazy and kept charging Dreyfus. But this moral evidence finally turned around French public opinion. Georges Clemenceau was the publisher (who would later become prime minister of France) of L’ Aurore, who, shortly after Zola’s J’Acccuse…!, coined the term l’intellectuel (the intellectual) and wrote, “What stands in the way? Why is Esterhazy, a character of depravity and more than doubtful morals, protected while the accused is not?”

After four years of incarceration, Dreyfus was allowed to return to France. His case was retried by a military court in Rennes, western France, where scores of reporters traveled from afar. The Dreyfus Affair received worldwide attention. Britain’s Queen Victoria and other leading figures in Europe showed sympathy for Dreyfus; even his most adamant accusers felt inner compassion for him. Dreyfus was very sick, yet dignified, and still confident in justice.

On September 9, 1899, Dreyfus was again convicted (in a 5-2 decision) of treason, but “with extenuating circumstances” and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. The verdict of “treason with extenuating circumstances” was an invitation for conciliation. Dreyfus was told that if he applied for a pardon (nonetheless an admission of guilt), he would be freed immediately. Dreyfus knew well how his supporters would be frustrated if he asked for a pardon. But he also knew another incarceration would kill him. So he applied to be pardoned and was released from custody.

After experiencing external hell for four years, Dreyfus was no longer in prison, but he could not even serve his beloved country, and felt just “adopted” in his own family. He felt sometimes alienated from his wife, children and friends. He had become a stranger in his own home.

Zola died in 1902. In Unification parlance, this took place at the top of the growth stage in the chronology of the Dreyfus Affair. Over the next four years (1903-06), all charges against Dreyfus were gradually dropped. Internally, Dreyfus had endured all alienation with his resilient conscience. Externally, France was also changing; some demons of the past stopped being fed. The collective mindset was changing, with no need of mutual recrimination.

Dreyfus’s rehabilitation (1903-06)

The end of the accusation came about from thorough investigations, which revealed how many forgeries had been fabricated against Dreyfus. This work was conducted with a rational method, whereas the passions of the street and of the media were receding.

In 1906, Dreyfus was solemnly rehabilitated during a ceremony held in exactly the same place where he had been degraded. He was awarded the Legion of Honor and promoted to major in the French Army.

The end of accusation

What is the ultimate origin of accusation? How can a society blindly accuse an innocent man for 12 years? Why are some minorities accused and discriminated against, when they did nothing wrong? Why did Zola’s letter, I Accuse…!, become more famous than the Dreyfus Affair itself?

The mechanisms of accusation are complex. When God asked Adam, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”, Adam declines any personal responsibility. Instead, he blames Eve, in an impersonal and defiant way. “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Adam simply blames God for the creation of something strange (womanhood), as if he himself had done nothing wrong. Adam felt guilty and ashamed, yet he accused others.

When God asks Eve, “What is this you have done?”, she answers, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

There are obvious psychological mechanisms behind human accusation. The root of accusation, however, is fundamentally spiritual and metaphysical. The Principle says, “Satan is constantly accusing all people before God, as he did with Job, in order to drag them into hell” (The Fall, 4.2, pp. 68-69).

Rev. Moon’s early disciple, Young Whi Kim, once made this deep observation:

“Satan’s accusation unto God was that he did not receive the full love of God and the full love of men, the children of God. But by receiving the love of God and the love of Jesus, Satan had to surrender and lost the base for his accusation….” (Divine Principle Study Book, Part 1, p. 140)

Sketching a manifesto of I admit

It is challenging to write an I admit manifesto as powerful as Zola’s I accuse…! Yet, we should try. Most Unificationists dislike French philosopher Jacques Derrida, a father of deconstruction. But, he once wisely advocated for the need for a geopolitics of repentance:

“In all the cases of repentance, confession, forgiveness which have been multiplying on the geopolitical scene ever since World War II, we see not only individuals but whole communities, professional corporations, representatives of the clergy, sovereigns and heads of State ask for forgiveness.”

Repenting for one’s mistakes is good, but the best is to admit our sincere desire to adopt a truly positive mindset, where we try to embrace the whole and transcend divided camps. I suggest that a desirable I admit should contain these three ideas:

  • I admit that I want, in my deepest heart, to find joy through genuinely loving others. I train myself to love the unlovable, those who are different, who oppose me. My only motive is to increase freedom and joy for a better world. May everyone believe that I endeavor to run the extra mile.
  • I admit that I can take more responsibility in public life. I profess that I can learn more, be better informed about issues, and cooperate with others. This training takes time and I shall always see myself as a beginner and seeker.
  • I admit that I should follow my conscience, which tells me that no opinion is completely true or completely false. We all are trying to bring pieces together and to express our feelings, thoughts and visions in ways that should be assertive, and we need not become defensive or aggressive.

The Dreyfus Affair shattered French institutions while France was preparing the 1900 Paris Exposition. After their military victory over France in 1871, Germans would mock France as la Grande Nation (“The Great Nation”). France craved to be great again. Obsessed by its rivalry with Germany, la Grande Nation began to get an inferiority complex, and many French freely admitted that Germans had a better life. The desire to be great again is, of course, natural, but should exclude resentment. The Dreyfus Affair was a golden opportunity for many circles to show that the real danger for France was not Germany but a fifth column. Dreyfus became the enemy from within for 12 years.

In itself, “Make America Great Again” is an acceptable slogan, but surely, as has often been said since the 19th century, “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

The early stages of the Dreyfus Affair revealed that France was not a good nation. Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, was horrified to hear that the mob shouted “Kill the Jews” when Dreyfus was degraded. He was devastated when Jewish shops were sacked and burned. Like many, he had believed the country of liberty, equality and fraternity to be a haven for Jews. He completely changed his view, and the first Zionist congress was held in Paris in 1897.

In 2020, a pandemic hit the world. The United States has paid a heavy price with 900,000 deaths to date because of what some officials mocked as the “Chinese virus.” But by the end of 2020, it appeared other viruses were at work. Each camp started to accuse the other of being the fifth column of foreign ideologies or practices that are un-American. No captain was degraded, but statues were removed. There were strong accusations, leading to cries of “Stop the Steal,” and this rage motivated several thousand to storm the U.S. Capitol a year ago.

I plead to my fellow American Unificationists to show how America can become good again. Dreyfus was innocent. Moreover, he was a good French citizen. Let good American citizens hear the Gospel of Unificationism. Let the crowds chant together the prophecy of the Book of Revelation (Rev. 12:10):

“Now have come… the Kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.”♦

Laurent Ladouce is a French Unificationist who was awarded an honorary doctorate by Unification Theological Seminary in 2017. A prolific author of Unificationist publications, he also published the book, Le Projet Pakxe: une contribution du Laos à l’unité de l’Asie du Sud‐Est et à la Paix Mondiale, describing the rising role of city diplomacy and proposing a plan to make Pakxe, Laos, an international city of peace. He also regularly conducts tribal messiah activity in West Africa.

Photo at top: French journalist Émile Zola’s published open letter, I Accuse…! (J’Accuse…!), was more than just a turning point in the Dreyfus Affair, but “one of the great commotions of history” according to historian Barbara Tuchman. It became a milestone in the role of the angry intellectual to denounce social problems.

11 thoughts on “The End of Accusation: Unificationist Lessons from the Dreyfus Affair

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  1. “Radical accusation always states that the enemy is intrinsically evil and is unredeemable.”

    Merci, Laurent, for this insightful article. You have defined essential differences between enmity — where removal of the other side is seen as the victory; and reconciliation or unificationism — where joining together in heavenly good is the victory. Well-contrasted are the differences between accusation and denunciation (which go hand-in-hand with ignoring one’s own faults), and a culture of admitting our own struggle with the urges that destroy harmony, while taking responsibility for our own part in building a godly world, from the individual on up, and inviting others to join with us.

    Once again, as in times past, a clear mind from France speaks to help America see itself clearly amid great turmoil.

  2. Laurent, you are a prolific writer!

    “I honestly worry that this spirit of reconciliation may desert our Unification movement. I sadly see that some Unificationists have chosen their camp, loathing others’ opinions and promoting polarization.”

    In the spirit of non-violent communication (see work by Marshall Rosenberg on this subject), I offer the following:

    “We all have needs (imagined or real). How we ask to get our needs met is part art and part science. We can ask with nurturing words or debilitating words. I’m confident those reading here can easily recollect personal examples to this effect. This is a good place to start when seeking to improve communication between seeming disparate points of view. Yet, without gaining increased capacity to be well-acquainted with our emotions and what we are doing with them, and listening deeply, i.e., hearing what is said and not said, empathetic understanding remains wanting.”

    “If we connect with God’s heart, practice true love and attend our Heavenly Parent, we include others. Working to extinguish controversies, antagonism and accusation, we think and work together.”

    Occupying and remaining in the space you describe here is possible via the route of on-going personal transformation (see previous articles on this blog by UTS’s Dr. Drissa Kone).

    “We remember the work of CAUSA in the 1980s, where we had a clear enemy (Marxism-Leninism) and a cause. Many Unificationists still seek a crusade against a foe. This takes priority over building the ideal world. I proudly worked for CAUSA International, but I must say, “Times have changed.”

    Some lyrics from Bob Dylan’s 1964 song “The Times They Are A-Changin'” are germane:

    Come gather ’round people wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters around you have grown
    And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
    And if your breath to you is worth savin’
    Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times, they are a-changin’

    1. Increasing our capacity to practice non-violent communication (Rosenberg) and gaining a better understanding of how the historical roots of our emotions — how we learned and conditioned ourselves to dramatize certain feelings — influences our present-day reactions to certain feelings is essential, I feel, to help mitigate the debilitating effects of enmity and its cushy bedfellow, accusation. (See Master’s book, Emotional Intimacy.) If and when our community-at-large adopts an orientation similar to the Old Testament writer’s willingness to “air unpleasant smells” for all to inhale, thus affording those lacking eyewitness accounts with a lesson learning opportunity, we can anticipate a softening of the slings and arrows hurled by those riding along on the endless loop of relentless, non-reflective emotional response.

  3. Thank you, Laurent, for reminding and teaching us about the Dreyfus affair. Somewhere in either Plato or Aristotle, I remember reading that accusation is a sign of the collapse of democracy, which requires civility to function. The principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is important and a “jury of peers” also helps mitigate political and media allegations. Trials by media and by political leaders inevitably harm the innocent.

    When listening to media and political leaders, we should generally pay little heed to accusations or pandering, and look instead for those leaders who can explain genuine solutions to social problems that benefit all, rather than a specific group.

  4. Thank you, Sam, for starting the discussion and thank you, Jack, for raising the important topic of non-violent communication (words should never be swords)

    Both of you were gracious enough to quote some sentences of my imperfect essay. Your interest in the contents is a real honor for me.

    The words of Bob Dylan were so prophetic. They illustrate one part of the topic today.

    Regarding the lessons of the Dreyfus Affair, the first part of it (1894-1902) is pure tragedy which reveals the dark side of a nation, its awful contradictions. In a context of immorality and decadence, France, which pretended to be the nation of liberty guiding the people, revealed it could be oppressive and inhuman.

    Yet, the director José Ferrer, in his 1958 I Accuse ends his movie with the national anthem of France, La Marseillaise. He thus suggests that Dreyfus’s rehabilitation (1903-06) is a lesson in national catharsis, atonement, relief. A French director may not dare to do so, but seen from America, the end of the Dreyfus Affair is one of hope. A nation shows it shining aspect. French people today still meditate on the dark side of the affair, on the terrific power of Zola’s I accuse, partly because we tend to be pessimistic and always a bit angry and resentful, as old countries with too much bagage can sometimes be.

  5. Thank you, Laurent, for exploring this very important topic of “accusation”. We all have to deal with this issue since we certainly ourselves have accused others and probably been accused by others (rightfully or not).

    Was not Zola’s “I accuse…!” a necessary whistleblowing to undo a gross injustice, even if it stirred up a quarreling turmoil that lasted more than a decade for justice to finally prevail?

    Aren’t exposing unpleasant regrettable facts and bringing hidden misbehaviors to light a needed healthy process for improvement and solving past harmful situations, like in the Dreyfus Affair you mentioned?

    What is the dividing line between unveiling misbehaviors and accusing others? I guess it ultimately involves a fair balance of truth and love to prevent us remaining stuck in the quagmire of a hopeless vicious circle where all keep endlessly blaming one another.

    It takes heart, wisdom and a sense of responsibility to understand we are part of the solution through loving cooperation. It’s really pointless and terribly inefficient –- and sometimes even rather manipulative — to insist on upholding the posture of a victim.

    Isn’t it God’s promise that we are forgiven through forgiving others?

    In order to help us reach there, as alas our original nature is not all the time fully manifested, the Good Book reminds us that: “…All have sinned and fall short of glory of God”. (Rom, 3:23)

    In these busy days when we don’t read the Bible much anymore, we might otherwise carefully listen to our inner voice which lovingly keeps telling us: “You, Divine child, don’t you behave as an arrogant brat!”. At other times, we might also possibly hear: “You, arrogant brat, don’t forget you are a Divine child!”

    Warning and reminding are not loveless blaming: they solely aim at brotherly reconciliation and beneficial cooperation.

    The time is past for pointing fingers, but definitely it is the time for offering helping hands.

    1. Thank you, Jean-Jacques, for these insights, especially on whistleblowers. We now live in the age of whistleblowing. My concern is that too many whistleblowers are archangels observing a situation, too often as prosecutors. A few of them are actors of a positive change.

      Whistleblowing indeed exists in the Bible. But the holy book offers higher levels of guidance regarding the role and mission of Abel to warn Cain and help him change his ways.

      A more profound sense of divine and human responsibility is found in Ezekiel. Ezekiel (622-570 BC) talks about being a very proactive sentinel.

      “Mortal, I have made you a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “You shall surely die,” and you give them no warning, or speak to warn the wicked from their wicked way, in order to save their life, those wicked persons shall die for their iniquity; but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and they do not turn from their wickedness, or from their wicked way, they shall die for their iniquity; but you will have saved your life.” (Ez. 3:17-18)

      Father warned the Western world, especially the United States, as a sentinel. He came as a foreigner who loved America deeply. Whenever Father gave warning, he first of all gave hope and insight, talking about “God’s hope for man”, “God’s hope for America”.

      He reminded Americans about God’s first love and God’s vision and Blessing. Then, Father behaved as a very special type of sentinel, who acts on the field and shows how to do good in places plagued by sin. Father was pained that Provincetown, a city founded by the Pilgrim Fathers, had become the capital of the gay culture on the East Coast. However, Father acted, instead of just preaching. He wanted to turn Provincetown into a showcase of Ocean Providence.

      Father created the seminarians of UTS, and then sent them to the Ocean Providence. He said for instance that the ocean is being used for smuggling. But instead of cursing the ocean and the drug, he educated people to fish. He said that if we use the ocean well, then evildoers will go away. Only because Abel fails to show the way of virtue, Cain is “inspired” to continue living in sin, and finds this more thrilling.

      Father spoke a bit about homosexuals and drug dealers, but mostly said, as far as the sea is concerned, fish is better for health, can help solve hunger, can revive an important industry. Instead of pointing at problems, Father was offering multiple solutions and was himself fishing a lot in American waters. I see this as a demonstration of “I admit …” culture: showing to everyone a latent or virtual blessing which is there. And only because people failed to acknowledge this potential goodness, the “I accuse …” culture seems more convincing.

      1. Laurent, I fully agree with you that accusation and denunciation alone don’t make anyone righteous. Only improving a situation does. Spotting (other’s) wrongdoings can’t be a full-time job solely providing excuses for not doing better.

        It appears that white knights fighting injustice may easily turn out to be self-indulgent leaders who just vainly promote cheap righteousness.

        Yet as a doctor needs to first make the right diagnosis in order to propose a viable cure, a clear and detailed exposure of problems must first be established to define real solutions.

        Putting the head in the sand to avoid seeing a problem is itself a greater problem.

        Humans have been wired to not idly accept injustice. Even though men’s internal compass may not properly function, they’ll always keep standing for what they believe is right in their own eyes.

        Haven’t Unificationists spent God knows how many hundreds of millions of dollars in court battles in order that what they consider as truth and justice prevails?

  6. Dear Jean-Jacques, who introduced a wretch like me to the Divine Principle in February 1975 in Rennes, where Dreyfus started to see the light, thank you for your posting today.

    The theme of the Accused and the accused has daunted prophets, but also artists and poets.

    After the murder of Duncan, Lady MacBeth is obsessed by an hallucination of a bloodstain on her hand, and screams “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red’ Macbeth” (Act II, Sc. II).

    Accusation has the same cosmic proportions in Victor Hugo’s poem of the eye of Abel, after Cain’s murder, “The eye was in the tomb and stared at Cain”. The verse was made even more frightening by the fantastic painting of Nicolas Chfflard, “The Conscience.”

    The Accuser plays a major role in Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.

    In the beginning of the novel, Jean Valjean is still a bad man, who betrays Bishop Myriel and breaks the heart of a young boy. But the whole novel is about Jean Valjean’s inner experience of being forgiven and set free from accusation. We see his redemption and his becoming a dignified good citizen, almost like a saint. However, the policeman Javert does not believe at all that a man like Valjean can ever become good. His name “Javert” is actually a sort of alliteration of “Valjean”, as if Javert represents the old self of Valjean. Javert is fiercely determined to bring Valjean back to where he belongs, i.e., the prison life with criminals. For Javert, Valjean is born to be bad.

    But Jean Valjean will save Javert’s life during an insurrection in Paris, carrying his wounded body in the muddy waters of the sewage system of the big city (what a great symbol!). After being saved by Valjean, Javert commits suicide and drowns himself in the waters of river Seine, meaning the end of accusation.

    In German modern mythology, there is a very special character, called Jedermann, a play by Hugo von Hofmannsthal [Jedermann. Das Spiel vom Sterben des reichen Mannes (Everyman. The play of the rich man’s death]

    Jedermann here is a rich and cynical man, belonging to the upper class. There are obvious, sociological reasons for him to be accused by Death (Tod). Yet, his very name means “every man”, this means, each one of us. We are not accused for a specific mistake, but every human being is born to be accused, constantly under the accusation of Satan, according to the Principle.

    True Parents set us free from Satan’s accusation forever and ever and ever. No longer “I accuse …” never again, after the Messiah shed his blood, sweat and tears for God, for earth and for us all.

    As a young man born in Rennes (the city where Dreyfus was judged a second time) and who happened to study in the very high school where the miltary court was established to judge him a second time, I remember being fascinated by these figures in Shakespeare, Hugo and Hofmanstahl. At that time, I was an atheist, I did not believe in God and in Satan. Yet, I found myself constantly accused by my conscience, living in guilt and anxiety though externally I was a happy man with a bright and promising future.

    Though I first rejected the Principle of Creation and the Fall taught by my friend Jean-Jacques Bourget, a few days later, I had my first experience with God during a workshop where I felt washed away from all accusations and reborn.

    1. Dear Laurent,

      It’s no wonder that the Dreyfus Affair resonates so deeply in your soul. Not simply because Dreyfus’ second trial took place in the very building where you brilliantly studied but because you intuitively perceive in it a universal process of redemption you can identify with.

      Many artists and prophets within the Judeo-Christian sphere have indeed explored and vividly described the human tragedy of guilt and redemption. And you also with great talent have shared what can be learned from the dramatic Dreyfus affair.

      Accusation generates guilt. And guilt becomes the cancer of the soul.

      Redemption is the full awareness of being not only forgivable but wholly forgiven. It’s a complete renewal which cancels all the debts and guilty feelings of the past.

      The spiritual experience to encounter the Divine has the psychological liberating effect to give humans spiritual freedom.

      Toward soothing tormented souls, the Bible keeps reminding us: “If our own heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart…”

      All human complexity however can’t always properly fit within our limited understanding based on our long Judeo-Christian cultural heritage and tradition.

      Murder (in time of peace only) is universally recognized as an absolute evil and therefore condemned in all justice courts, yet adultery is not seen everywhere as sinful or evil. Some have been practicing polygamy, polyandry or taken part in pagan sexual rituals out of wedlock without any pang of conscience.

      For example, in some Korean shamanistic traditions the practice of sexual rituals were supposed to help connecting with God. Men and women who practiced these rituals felt elevated and liberated through the process without feeling guilt or shame for practicing what monogamous Christians would call adultery.

      That remains for me (a happy monogamous Westerner) – and I suppose for most unificationists- a very puzzling riddle.

  7. Thank you, Jean-Jacques.

    A key element is the difference between accusation/guilt and repentance/conversion/metanoia/catharsis.

    A turning point in the Dreyfus Affair was reached when the perversity of Esterhazy (the real traitor) was revealed. Some people were shocked by the immorality of this man and experienced remorse and some compassion for the injustice done to an innocent person paying for the crime of someone else.

    Jean-Jacques and myself were in Rennes a few months ago, on September 21, 2021. In the morning, I visited my high school again and thought of Captain Dreyfus. Later, in the afternoon, Jean-Jacques and myself entered the Thabor Garden, on the heights of Rennes.

    In the Eastern gate of this garden, a mysterious place is called “Hell”, and the reasons are unclear. Likewise, who knows why Dreyfus was imprisoned on Devil’s Island.

    At the Western gate of the Garden, there is a rose garden consisting of 12 concentric circles of roses. The four cardinal points are marked by four alleys crossing the 12 circles. Seen from above, the place looks like a four position foundation or a mandala of Heaven.

    Then, halfway between “Hell” and “Heaven”, there is a small statue called Spinario in Italian. It shows a young boy pulling out a thorn from his foot (spina is Latin for thorn). The theme of Spinario is originally pagan and traces back to the Roman empire. Not unlike the Marathon runner, a young boy had run a long distance to send a message, ignoring the pain of a thorn in his foot. The theme is first connected to some form of stoicism. We find this stoicism in Dreyfus, throughout the affair. He just endured the pain.

    Later on, Christians interpreted the Spinario as a symbol of the thorn in the flesh, mentioned by Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

    We all know that guilt is not a thorn in the flesh, but a thorn at the core of the mind. The Spinario between Hell and Heaven in Thabor Garden reminds us about the need for repentance if we are to be reborn and free from accusation.

    New Yorkers may see their own wonderful Spinario at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (it is probably the most beautiful one).

    When the Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11, many New Yorkers reflected deeply about their lives. It was a spontaneous feeling of reflection and catharsis. It was only later that ideas of revenge and making Saddam Hussein a scapegoat surfaced. No doubt, justice was to be done in memory of all the victims. But retrospectively, it was not a good idea to blame Saddam Hussein for September 11. It multiplied the thorns. And wars in the Middle East that followed have created more problems for everyone, even if we respect the courage and heroism of soldiers committed there.

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