Enlarged Freedom for a Safer World: A Unificationist Approach toward Human Security

By Laurent Ladouce and Carolyn Handschin-Moser

After the end of the Cold War, many hoped the 21st century would be one of lasting peace. It actually started well with the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.

During this period, Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon launched the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). With its network of Ambassadors for Peace worldwide, it has an impressive record of peace initiatives. Hopefully, the emergence of a graduate school for peace and public leadership in the Unification movement will also bring innovative and creative ideas to the philosophy of peace studies.

Regrettably, peace studies often stop at conflict resolution or conflict transformation. We need more “positive peace studies.” We keep viewing peace as pacification, the return of tranquility after a period of conflict. According to Heraclitus, the founder of dialectics, “Polemos (war) is both the king and father of all.” We still live in a culture where there is only a truce between two wars. The term “irenology” (from the Greek irene, meaning peace) exists, but is rarely used.

The Genesis of Human Security

Peace is more than the absence of war, we say. But what should be present when war is absent? The revolution of Satyagraha, launched by Gandhi, went far beyond the Home Rule movement which had blossomed in India in 1916-18 and was to end the British colonial occupation. Satyagraha literally means that truth has an element of love and an element of energy within itself. Gandhi added:

“Truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement Satyagraha, i.e., the Force which is born of Truth and Love, and gave up the use of the phrase “passive resistance” in connection with it.”

Gandhi wanted to make Indians the actors of their own destiny, free to build a peaceful and good society. He noted:

“I would like to see India free and strong so that she may offer herself as a willing, pure sacrifice for the betterment of the world. The self, being pure, sacrifices himself for the family, the latter for the village, the village for the district, the district for the province, the province for the nation, the nation for all.”

We often chant “study war no more” (see Isaiah Wall photo below), but study what, then? Indeed, we accumulate valuable knowledge to gradually change from a very violent to a less violent world, and ultimately to a world with zero violence. But what stands above the zero? Unificationism states that Cain and Abel should reconcile and settle their disputes, then live together. In practice, most Unificationists still seek a roadmap for a feasible universal concord. The Unificationist community, not unlike most religious organizations, believes in some form of utopian universal concord. A proper understanding of human security may be an eye-opener to arrive at something more concrete.

The Isaiah Wall in Ralph Bunche Park across from the United Nations in New York contains this inscription from Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Unificationist eschatology sees the ideal world as Cheon Il Guk, the nation of cosmic peace and unity. More than a world free from discord and antagonism, it is a world where protagonists are free for a God-centered concord. As the Holy Community of Heavenly Parent says in the fourth paragraph of its Family Pledge, “Our family, the owner of Cheon Il Guk, pledges to build the universal family encompassing heaven and earth, which is the Heavenly Parent’s ideal of creation, and perfect the world of freedom, peace, unity and happiness, by centering on true love.”

Here, the pursuit of freedom and happiness takes place in a world of peace and unity. Whereas freedom and happiness belong to subjective experience, or the world within, peace and unity are experienced objectively, in the world without. Cheon Il Guk is thus the world where two become one, where subjectivities harmonize for a greater whole instead of colliding. We all see our subjectivity projected and reflected in the community. The Principle of Creation states that the ideal family or society

“…is patterned after the image of a perfect individual. It thus becomes the substantial object partner to the individual who lives in oneness with God, and consequently, it also becomes the substantial object partner to God. The individual feels joy, and likewise God feels joy, when each perceives in this family or community the manifestation of his own internal nature and external form.”

With this Unificationist guideline and paradigm of human security in mind, we can evaluate existing principles of human security.

Worrying About Others or Caring for Others?

Dr. Mahbub al-Haq (1934–98) introduced the concept of human security in the UN Report of Human Development in 1994 and during the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. Haq also created the Human Development Index, widely used to measure the development of nations.

What is the difference between state security and human security? A nation-state includes three components, namely, people, territory and sovereignty. A nation-state, therefore, is a (1) body of people living, (2) in a defined territory, (3) with the power to make laws and an organization to do so. While state security mostly deals with the defense of sovereignty and territory, human security mostly concerns the population.

State security is typically Hobbesian: holding the monopoly of legal violence, the state protects the sovereignty and territory from intrastate unrest through a ministry of the interior and police forces, or from foreign aggression or war through state diplomacy, armed forces and military alliances. The language often used is that the state has sovereign power to guarantee this security, largely through the use of force.

Human security, in contrast, is a civil security. It is the spontaneous law and order maintained by civil society. Do surveillance devices and numerous internal security forces make a society safer? No, trust and brotherhood are the cement: citizens care for others more than they worry about others.

The concept of human security is widely used by NGOs and international agencies, particularly the United Nations. Yet, some scholars continue to question the definition of human security, its methodology and conceptual tools. Human security still remains in need of a more precise definition. This is what we call the intention of a concept in formal logic.

The legitimacy of human security is questioned for the following reasons.

  • It remains ill-defined.
  • It is sometimes redundant with more precise terms (such as human rights, human development)
  • It may be a misnomer for something else. Sometimes, human security is used as a synonym for human needs or of well-being. Some experts on human security are indeed aware of this.
  • It amounts to reinventing the wheel. To insist on economic security and health security, for instance, is just to rediscover the notions of welfarism and social security.

These critiques are valid. Yet, as long as the motivations and purposes behind human security are good, we may accept some degree of vagueness, just like with any new discipline. Our main concern here is that freedom from fear and freedom from want, the two pillars of human security, remain firmly connected with freedom of expression and freedom of worship — as in the Four Freedoms speech of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This is where Unificationism can help the most, by emphasizing a responsible and ethical use of a larger freedom to arrive at a safer world.

The Security of Human Beings, by Human Beings, for Human Beings

We can identify several levels of human security.

  1. Worldwide, the freedoms from are to be strengthened. This is the security for human beings, so that their rights are recognized and protected. It may entail a responsibility to protect. It also concerns the fight against poverty, so that people may have more. But here, a top-down approach prevails, where people remain as passive agents.
  2. On this foundation, we may secure the freedom of (or freedom to) in two ways:
    • Everywhere, people should be empowered so that human development continues. This works better with local governments and small communities, which avoid top-down approaches and prefer a horizontal and shared responsibility. We may thus speak of a security by human beings, who act as capable agents and manage, gradually, to know more and to do more.
    • When this is achieved, we still can enhance human dignity: how to be more. In the highest realm of freedom of, the self is autonomous and creative. Each person becomes a contributor. This is therefore a security of (or from) human beings prompted by their own conscience, in a bottom-up approach.

Human security starts with making the right choices. By making these choices, society will decide to invest massively in long-term development. In politics, efforts will focus on reaching transparency and heading for full democracy, modernizing administration, and reforming the state and its representative institutions. Economics will focus on providing high-quality infrastructure and giving priority to the expansion of a well-educated middle class. Much investment will go into renewable energy, the transition toward a green economy, and research and development.

Societal measures will focus on improving health, but also educating the population about food and good habits, including the practice of sports. Finally, human security may include cultural security, so that people of various ethnic groups can feel recognized and respected, while also receiving education and good training in universal values. Here, human security does not target only the most vulnerable people; it concerns the aspirations of the whole human family.

In Unificationist terminology, human security has two components. Freedom from fear and freedom from want are more external and “objective.” Human beings should protect themselves from either natural or man-made risks and hazards, which may expose their existence and essence to uncertainty, danger, instability, and scarcity. However, security can only be called human security if human beings themselves act as owners of their security by adopting a responsible and value-oriented behavior, which is more internal and subjective (see Fig. 1 above).

Increasing Our Rights, or Expanding Our Love?

Human security promises a double liberation, which has become its trademark: liberation from fear and liberation from want. Yet, this formulation is ambiguous, presenting the self as just a passive receiver of human security. Indeed, discourse on human security is more efficient as a discourse of empowerment where the self is transformed into a responsible actor for the community.

How can we balance liberty, happiness, unity, and peace? Gandhi called for a revolution of our behavior. Likewise, Rev. Moon taught that only a revolution of true love will bring peace. Seeing human security only as an extension of rights is unhealthy. Human security also requires the “pure sacrifice” advocated by Gandhi and the extension of our duties.

The dilemma for human security, then, is to find the balance between empowerment (freedom of) and protection (freedom from).

Positive and Negative Freedom

From the start, human security is presented as an extension of freedom, particularly freedom from want and freedom from fear. Many seem to have forgotten who first spoke of these two freedoms and when. Actually, they did not appear in 1994-95 when the concept “human security” was introduced. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first to speak of these two freedoms, in his Four Freedoms Speech to Congress on January 6, 1941. Roosevelt began with this powerful statement:

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.”

In this preamble, freedom is the major theme, and safety is the minor theme. The pursuit of freedom everywhere will make everyone safer. Roosevelt then speaks of the Four Freedoms which were to apply “everywhere in the world.”

“The first is freedom of speech and expression…

“The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way…

“The third is freedom from want — which… means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants…

“The fourth is freedom from fear — which… means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point… that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor.”

Roosevelt distinguished between two complementary aspects of freedom, namely freedom of and freedom from. A few years later, Isaiah Berlin introduced the very useful concept of positive freedom and negative freedom. For Berlin, “I am slave to no man” is the slogan of negative liberty. By contrast, “I am my own master” is the credo of positive liberty, the freedom to choose one’s own pursuits in life. Berlin defined “negative liberty” as absence of coercion or interference of private actions by an external political body. “Positive liberty,” Berlin maintained, could be thought of as self-mastery, which asks not what we are free from, but what we are free to do.

If freedom in the public sphere sometimes appears as freedom of (positive liberty) and sometimes as freedom from (negative freedom), what would be the best synthesis of these two aspects? How can we conceive a larger freedom, which would naturally provide greater security? In other words, how can human beings enjoy greater freedom while living in a safer word?

The key for that is to promote the “pure sacrifice” advocated by Gandhi, or what Rev. Moon often called “living for the sake of others.” The U.S. Constitution speaks of the consent of the governed, but living for the sake of others goes beyond that, and calls for “mutual liberty” rather than a mere “consent of the governed.”

It may not yet apply to the state, where some coercion remains necessary, but it is enlightening to describe what often takes place in interpersonal relations, associations, local communities, and in the civil society at large.

Rev. Moon always connected human freedom to human responsibility, and to the connected pursuits of unity, peace and happiness. He said:

“Where there is no unity, there is no freedom, happiness, peace or hope. If your mind and body have not become one, can you be happy? If they clash, can you be happy? Does freedom exist there? They should have good give and take with each other. Peace requires mutual balance, but is there a balance? There is freedom only on the basis of unity. Without it, there is no happiness, peace or hope.” (Cheon Seong Gyeong, 231-269, 1992.6.7)

Unification ontology sees human beings as composed of a spirit self and physical self. This dual nature accounts for the two freedoms mentioned, positive freedom and negative freedom. Our physical self has needs and drives, requires physical protection and care, and seeks material values. The body requires constant freedom from restriction, and human security so far has focused too much on the physical aspects of security — freedom from fear and freedom from want.

However, a comprehensive philosophy of human security should also include the spiritual dimension, that is, spiritual and existential security. Our spirit self has desires and aspirations, grows through education, and seeks spiritual values. Human freedom is a synthesis of these two freedoms. Freedom is complete when one can do what one may do.♦

Note: This article is adapted from “In Larger Freedom for a Safer World: A Unificationist Evaluation of Human Security,” Journal of Unification Studies, Vol. XXIII (2022).

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.

Carolyn Handschin-Moser was recently elected the President of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women at the United Nations in Geneva. She is Vice President of Women’s Federation for World Peace, International, and Director of the WFWPI Office for United Nations Relations globally. She has led their advocacy team at the United Nations in Geneva for 25 years, working closely with the Human Rights Council and is active on committees and task forces. Carolyn guides the leadership and advocacy training of young women and men in the WFWPI-UN Internship Program in Geneva (2005-), has authored curricula and training programs, and remains active as co-founder and program coordinator of the GIIA Model UN Interreligious Youth Council Program (2009- ).

4 thoughts on “Enlarged Freedom for a Safer World: A Unificationist Approach toward Human Security

Add yours

  1. The pathway to peace goes through the two positions of priest and king, representing the two foundations of spirit and truth respectively. The first position encompasses family, moral education and cultue while the latter position has rule over the environment, economy, justice and governance. The unity of spirit and truth is a non-dualism of internal and external, subject and object, and the unity of mind and body. Whereas, the law of nature is predation; to rise above the law of predation is humanity and peace; the law of coexistence, reciprocity, interdependence, and mutual prosperity – to form a more perfect union.

  2. Thanks, Robert, for your insights on the ways to a peaceful society.

    1) Peace between the mind and the body is the foundation of individual peace, that is true.

    2) This peace within the individual should be reflected without, namely in the society. I do agree.

    3) Does the unity between the priest and the king express this mind/body unity? It is a tough debate. If we study the Unificationist view on this matter, it differs from the traditional Christian (at least Catholic) viewpoint. It does not bring a contradiction, but an important clarification, as shown here.

    We read,

    “The emperor and the pope were to realize the ideal Christian state by uniting wholeheartedly to follow the Will of God. The spiritual kingdom ruled by the pope, which had been founded upon the spiritual foundation for the Messiah, and the temporal kingdom ruled by the emperor should have united based on Christ’s teachings. Had they done so, religion, politics and economy would have harmonized, and the foundation for the Second Advent of Christ would have been established at that time.

    “In the period of the united kingdom of Israel, the king was the central figure for restoring the foundation of faith. He was responsible to carry out the Word of God, which was given through the prophets. Before the king was anointed, the prophet and the high priest were to represent and teach the Word of God, and thus they stood in the position of Abel. Their mission, as required by the providence of restoration, was to restore the physical world from the position of the archangel, representing the spirit world. However, after they laid the foundation upon which the king could stand, and anointed and blessed him as the king, they were to take the role of Cain before him. The king was to rule his kingdom according to the guidance of the prophets, and the prophets were to obey the king as his subjects and counselors.”

    It makes us reflect about the emergence of a true society which reconciles the aspirations for freedom with a concern for peace and security.

    May I ask, Robert, what is your personal opinion about these statements of the Unificationist view of spiritual and physical power? For instance, how should religions nowadays cooperate smoothly with elected officials in a democratic environment?

  3. Why did you not bring up the topic of marriage and family? True Father agreed with and amplified the Confucian teaching that peace in the home is the key to peace in the nation.

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