Giving an Adversary the Respect They May Not Deserve

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Note: This article from Nov. 11, 2013 is being re-posted on Applied Unificationism in remembrance of Antonio Betancourt (1944-2022).

By Mark P. Barry

In April 1990, after his Moscow meeting with Soviet President Gorbachev, Rev. Sun Myung Moon asked Antonio Betancourt, Secretary General of the Summit Council for World Peace, to reach out on his behalf to North Korea. Dr. Betancourt had many years’ experience working with former heads of state and government from Latin America and elsewhere. On several occasions, Rev. Moon gave him specific instructions how to conduct diplomacy prior to undertaking this overture.

Shortly afterward, Dr. Betancourt started to visit North Korean embassies in Beijing, Lisbon and other world capitals. He would walk into an embassy, introduce himself and his affiliation, and quickly would be bodily escorted outside, and told he was not welcome. The reason was our worldwide movement’s strong anticommunist stance. Although he gave them the precedent of Rev. Moon’s meeting Gorbachev, it made no difference.

Through sheer persistence, he eventually impressed the North Korean diplomats because he showed both a willingness to listen, as well as displayed a refreshing attitude. On one occasion, he went to the North Korean UN mission in New York and met with their deputy ambassador. This official carried on for three hours condemning the United States, Japan and South Korea for many of the North’s ills. Dr. Betancourt said that once he did his best not only to endure the diatribe but listen attentively, an unexpected change in the atmosphere occurred.

The North Korean diplomat suddenly became curious and willing to listen to what he had to say. The deputy ambassador was amazed this visitor had taken his verbal punishment, digested it, and was willing to proceed to more constructive conversation. What came from this meeting led to Dr. Betancourt’s first of 17 visits to Pyongyang in May 1991, accompanied by Rodrigo Carazo, former president of Costa Rica.

Once in Pyongyang, Dr. Betancourt’s real test began. He was subjected to verbal berating for two days, despite being a state guest, because the North Koreans wanted to test his true intentions and capacity to deal with them. He concluded they do not trust someone unless proven trustworthy. This is part of understanding and managing North Koreans’ complex logic used when dealing with those with whom they have grievances.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bo Hi Pak, assisted by Dr. Betancourt, laid the foundation for Rev. and Mrs. Moon’s historic meeting with President Kim Il Sung in November 1991, as chronicled in Chapter 20 of Dr. Pak’s Messiah: My Testimony to Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Vol. II.

Dr. Betancourt notes, “Dr. Pak practiced the application of Rev. Moon’s teachings in his diplomacy and exemplified the principle of respecting and honoring everyone, including his enemies. He could speak very strongly against communism in his lectures, but in personally dealing with adversaries, he never demonized them. That’s why he could convince North Korea to invite Rev. and Mrs. Moon to Pyongyang. Without Dr. Pak’s sincerity, that would never have worked.” He adds, “When Rev. Moon embraced Kim Il Sung, it was not a political act or a pose for a photo-op. It was a heart-to-heart embrace that won Kim Il Sung’s heart. Father understood the art of turning enemies into friends.”

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Building a Platform for Peace

By Andrew Wilson

On February 26, the Fourth Think Tank 2022 Forum for the reunification of North and South Korea was held which featured former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Appearing with him were former military leaders, former senior officials, and academics from the United States, South Korea and Japan. Afterwards, Secretary Esper took questions from the public of these nations, including students.

Think Tank 2022, which developed as an outgrowth of the eight Rallies of Hope for the reunification of North and South Korea that began in August 2020, is holding numerous such events throughout the world, focusing on leaders in government, religion, business, the academic world, women leaders, etc.

In my view, these Rallies of Hope and Think Tank forums are intended to provide the platform for Mother Hak Ja Han Moon to work for peace if she is able to visit North Korea, as she has stated she would like to undertake in the near future. Thereby, she hopes to build on the work for Korean reunification of her late husband, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, when they traveled together to Pyongyang and met with North Korean President Kim Il Sung in December 1991.

Let us look at platforms and the purpose of building them. First, we should recognize that this is a methodology that True Parents have used throughout their ministry. In the 1980s, Rev. Moon built a platform to prepare for his trip to Moscow, where in April 1990 he and Mrs. Moon met with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, accompanied by a large delegation of former heads of state and government.

Rev. Moon began constructing his platform with the Washington Times newspaper, which President Ronald Reagan is said to have read every day. He added leading academics in the field of Soviet studies through the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA), which held a major conference in Geneva in 1985 titled “The End of the Soviet Empire.” He further built his platform with the World Media Association, which gathered journalists from major media outlets including the Soviet press agency, Novosti, and a delegation of former heads of state and government brought together under the Summit Council for World Peace and AULA. He extended his platform to the realm of sports, when he asked Unificationists to offer warm hospitality to the athletes from communist nations at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.

This was the broad platform by which Rev. Moon demonstrated both strength of conviction and solicitude for the communist world. Upon that platform, he was able to meet with President Gorbachev. Without such a powerful and distinguished platform, it is doubtful Rev. Moon could have met with Gorbachev, or even if they had met, for Gorbachev to treat him with commensurate respect.

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Constant Germany: Lessons of Steadiness in an Uncertain World

By Laurent Ladouce

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped down on December 8th after 16 years of political leadership. This unassuming person won international recognition as a model of leadership and was considered the most influential woman of the world for the past ten years.

The New York Times recently wrote of her legacy: “It is the end of an era for Germany and for Europe. For over a decade, Ms. Merkel was not just chancellor of Germany but effectively the leader of Europe.”

Rev. Sun Myung Moon often said leadership entails the ability to guide as a teacher, to embrace and unite as a parent, and to create projects as a master. Dr. Merkel, a theoretical quantum chemist from the former East Germany, rarely spoke like a scientist; her manners and rhetoric were simple, even dull. She never proposed any revolutionary project.

She was, however, the unbeatable team leader and referee who could get people to work together in a spirit of trust. She was perceived as the mother of the nation, affectionately called Mutti (mother).

Some saw her as an icon of female leadership. But more to the point, Merkel has been reassuring for Germans. Not just the exceptional woman, many Germans saw in her the average German they wanted to be, albeit in a leadership role. They felt secure with her. She was seen by large sectors of the German population as an embodiment of a cardinal virtue in German political culture: constancy.

*    *    *

Konstanz is a peaceful German university city on the Bodensee or Lake Constance. It is situated in the very heart of the German-speaking world, where Germany, Austria and Alemannic Switzerland meet.

Though this central spot of the German-speaking world is called Konstanz is a coincidence of geography, it’s also a good symbol. “Constancy is the complement of all other human virtues,” said the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72). Most German political leaders would agree. Modern Germany offers a model of political constancy which grew even stronger after the challenge of reunification. After Merkel is gone, this constancy will likely remain.

This essay focuses on Germany’s healthy institutions rather than on a remarkable person. Chancellor Merkel indeed has much merit. But German governance often allows for very capable leaders like Dr. Merkel to be elected and to remain. This is a lesson for us all.

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Fulfilling the Four Freedoms Eighty Years Later

By Laurent Ladouce

With the pandemic rampant and lockdowns imposed worldwide, an economic crisis destroying jobs, political turmoil in much of the West, and religious fanaticism elsewhere, we ought to proclaim, like President Franklin D. Roosevelt did in 1941: “Freedom of worship, freedom of expression, freedom from fear, freedom from want — everywhere in the world.”

Eighty years later, though global circumstances have changed, his call remains valid.

The domestic circumstances of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech were highly exceptional. Ordinarily, Roosevelt would not have sought a third term in office; yet he even ran and won reelection to a fourth term in 1944. In normal times, there would have been no need for that special section of his speech to be given. 

It was exceptional, because the Great Depression had lasted a decade already. It was exceptional, because Nazism was then controlling almost all of Europe. Roosevelt faced two totalitarian threats, from Hitler and from Stalin. It was exceptional because of Roosevelt’s confidence that the call for more freedom everywhere would guarantee greater safety everywhere. We need such confidence today.   

The Four Freedoms guided democracy for eight decades. They should continue to do so, adapting to the challenges of the 21st century. They should again guide us in times of uncertainty, of great insecurity and major restrictions to our freedoms everywhere.

More than a major political manifesto, the Four Freedoms speech amounts to a prophecy. Its eschatology inspired many artists.

Here, I evaluate the spiritual and cultural importance of the Four Freedoms from a Unificationist viewpoint. I suggest Norman Rockwell’s four paintings offer the deepest interpretation of the Four Freedoms, by insisting on the primacy of family values. Finally, I discuss how the speech should inspire us today. 

Balancing freedom and security

The Four Freedoms are the centerpiece of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of Union Address on January 6, 1941:

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Belief and the Power of Narrative

By Graham Simon

At midnight on December 31, 2020, the UK finally parted company with the EU.

After taking negotiations down to the wire, a beaming Boris Johnson, the unkempt UK Prime Minister and optimist extraordinaire, who five years earlier had promised the British people that they could leave the EU and still “have their cake and eat it,” declared that he had delivered a very “cakeist” treaty indeed.

The exit was mandated in a referendum in June 2016. The anti-EU faction had orchestrated a well-planned high-profile campaign which included catchy but less than truthful slogans on the sides of buses. Those who wanted to remain part of the EU dithered and presented their case badly. In the end, the “Leavers” won with 52% of the vote against 48% for the “Remainers.” Much rancor between the two sides followed.

Most economic forecasts have predicted a loss of UK GDP as a result of Brexit, ranging from 0.1% to 7.9%, with the official Treasury report coming in at around 6% over the next 15 years. Those who voted to leave tend to believe the lower figures or even outlying forecasts of gains, rather than losses. Those who voted to remain tend to believe the more pessimist numbers.

Regardless, the deed is now done and the probable outcome in five years’ time will be that the only things British citizens will notice are: the country is now able to exclude immigrants from Europe (but will probably still need plenty of Europeans to pick its fruit and staff its hospitals); there is more red tape when importing and exporting; and tourists need to keep showing their passports when traveling on the Continent. There is also an outside chance that Northern Ireland will no longer be part of Britain but be reunited with Eire (Southern Ireland) to become part of the EU again.

The UK was split down the middle with regards to Brexit, but people have managed to pull through without killing each other. As we look across the pond to the U.S., where the nation also seems split down the middle, we are perplexed and concerned at the severity of the divisions. While the fault lines may be different in the UK and U.S., the two situations have a lot in common — namely the centrality of belief and narrative in stoking divisions.

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Identity Politics, the Post-Truth World and Constructivism

By Gordon L. Anderson

The bitter partisan divisions in American politics have several roots: political, economic and cultural.

In my 2009 book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, I explain how a number of the political roots, like viruses, particularly through political parties, have hijacked the political system. The economic roots of the struggle essentially boil down to whether policies support an economy based on production for all (a win-win market economy) or taking from one group and giving it to another (a win-lose, hunter-gatherer economy).

This article focuses on the cultural roots of the struggle, looks at how deconstruction brought a crisis to post-modern thought, and considers whether a “constructivist” approach can overcome that crisis.

Several articles on the Applied Unificationism Blog have sought to understand the evolution of the idea of “truth.” Dr. Keisuke Noda discussed (July 23, 2018) the correspondence theory of truth, coherence theory of truth, pragmatic approach to truth, existential approach to truth, linguistic approach to truth, and an integral approach to truth.

I followed up (March 11, 2019) with a discussion of how our level of consciousness affects the way in which we understand the truth. I showed a cultural development of theological consciousness, metaphysical consciousness and scientific consciousness in the study of scripture and also argued for an integral understanding of scriptural truth (inherited cultural narrative).

The Death of Truth

However, we now find ourselves in a world where a significant part of society considers we are in a “post-truth world.” The April 3, 2017 TIME magazine cover story, “Is Truth Dead?” was a replica of TIME’s “Is God Dead?” cover story from April 8, 1966.

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Marxism vs. the Principle as a Means to Solve Social Problems

By Stephen Stacey

Within the Principle framework, social development is primarily seen to be a product of lineage development. If our children are a bit more wholesome than we, then future development is assured. Many parents in the movement are incredibly proud of the remarkable gifts their children embody. The Divine Principle notes social improvement occurs when development happens inside any of the three blessings.

But social improvement based on lineage improvement takes time.

It takes time for individuals to grow so that they can then enter the world and improve the education system, the health system, the legislative framework, the media, the national infrastructure, the way businesses are run, the products companies can make, medicines, the kind of help charities might provide, and what religious communities may be able to offer to the faithful and others — all as a means to improve social outcomes in the next generation.

For example, it took time to develop the education system in the West. But, eventually, each generation grew up to be slightly more skilled than the last.

As this happened, each successive generation typically became slightly wealthier and more capable of protecting itself from the ravages of life. Through taking this natural pathway, the West slowly but surely developed.

However, some can get impatient with this natural law. They might insist that social development should happen much faster, primarily through state intervention. Sometimes, new technology allows for this to happen. But often there is no way to solve a social problem other than for the whole of society to work together to improve the level of wholesomeness of the children we bring into this world.

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The Power of Listening

By Drissa Kone

Listening to someone in pain is the most valuable gift we can offer to heal a broken relationship. We may know that forgiving is a valuable thing to do, but most people do not know how to forgive someone who hurt them.

Choosing to listen to the pain of another helps us to be in touch with our true self, which indeed is not so different from the other person. When the connection is made through listening, healing and forgiveness happen. The powerful principle of listening is it creates space for understanding others and pursuing a deeper human connection.

The need to be understood and accepted is a universal psychological need for all people, and it can be done powerfully through listening. By listening, a broken relationship can be healed and opposing views united.

I have experienced these moments with people close to me. Several times my wife would scold me for not doing what she asked. Often, I tried to defend and protect myself and justify my behavior. However, those psychological defense mechanisms have their limits.

According to Richard Salem, empathic listening is a way of listening and responding to another that improves mutual understanding and trust. When we are attacked, we tend to react and defend, but when we can pause and listen to the deeper concern of the person attacking us, healing and understanding happen right away.

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Deep History

By Ronald Brown

“Deep history” is the deeply-rooted impulse that drives a nation, shapes the identities of peoples, and determines its present activities and future goals.

For many nations, some mythical past shaped this impulse while for new nations it is still being created. Here, I apply “deep history” to mean those primal characteristics of a people that defy the tumult of the centuries, remain immutable to individual leadership, and determine the destiny of a people.

This theory slowly evolved during my five years of university study in Jerusalem (1971-76), many visits thereafter, and most recently, my trip to the Holy Land last August.

Examples of deep history

The challenges of nationalism, socialism, communism, and Western-style separation of church and state have done little to undermine the fundamental and deeply-rooted Muslim belief that the goal of the religion is to create an Islamic state. The current global crusade to defeat so-called “Islamist ideology” is fated to failure. Muslim dedication to an Islamic state is as deeply-rooted in the faith and resistant to the vicissitudes of history as the resurrection of Jesus is in Christianity.

Western colonial expansion into North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, the 1924 abolition of the caliphate, and 1948 Jewish occupation of Palestine resulted in a rebirth of Islamic deep history. The Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and al-Qaida rejected Western nationalism, socialism, communism, secularism, and separation of church and state to reunite the shattered body of the Islamic umma and restore the caliphate.

China likewise is permeated with the idea that the Confucian social, economic and political order is universally applicable, and that its destiny is to spread this model worldwide. Even during the “Century of Humiliation,” when it was at the mercy of Western imperial powers, China remained firm in the belief of its divine destiny.

Political scientist Francis Fukuyama greeted the fall of Soviet Marxism in his 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. The Soviet Empire would finally join the rest of the planet in embracing parliamentary democracy, capitalism, and the rule of law. But by 2000, Russian deep history reared its head from the rubble of the collapsed Soviet Empire and Vladimir Putin resumed Russia’s imperial march as the Third Rome.

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