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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Leading America Back to the Center

By John Redmond

After the recent election cycle, America has become more and more polarized. This is destructive to national and social harmony and, at its worst, a prelude to national collapse. 

Historically, other nations that have reached this level of conflict and verbal invective have descended into partisan bickering, self-absorption and global irrelevance. On other occasions, they have moved past the argument, re-located common ground and moved forward. The British debate over slavery was a division that healed successfully but the American Civil War left scars still felt today. 

National challenges are to be expected in the growth of a nation.  How that nation responds depends on whether it rises or falls. According to historian Arnold Toynbee, most civilizations thrive when they are inspired by a creative minority of their citizens, visionary, educated and engaged.  They fail when this leadership group becomes defeatist or mired in conflict or despair. 

This is good news for Unificationists who regard development coming through Origin-Division-Union action and see that they are themselves part of the constructive creative minority. With Toynbee’s lens, this deep polarization is a challenge that can be overcome only if the creative minority steps up and meets that challenge with constructive responses.

This breakdown in civic discourse is driven in part by the change in how Americans currently get information they think they can trust — through the Internet. In the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” computer scientists discuss how search engines never send a balanced set of results for a search request or news feed; rather, they send information based on one’s browsing profile. 

Two people sitting side-by-side can type in the same search term and get completely different links to pursue based on their past browsing history and economic situation. Additionally, search engine companies get paid by how long you linger over an article or link, so it is in their best interests to send provocative articles and create an emotional tie to information to give advertisers a few more seconds to catch your eye.

It is ironic Americans are more educated than at any time in history with information literally at their fingertips and yet cannot understand how to find common ground with people who disagree with their political opinions. This is true of both right and left partisans.  

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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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Re-imagining Social Justice from a Headwing Perspective

By David Eaton

Since the tragic death of George Floyd, the United States has experienced societal convulsions not seen since the social unrest of the 1960s. Protests, violent and non-violent, have caused great distress in many American cities and communities.

This crisis has highlighted several significant socio-political issues including racial inequality, police brutality, poverty, family breakdown, and gender equality. Consequently, the role of political and spiritual leaders in ameliorating many of these injustices is now of great concern.

Needless to say, there have been a plethora of opinions offered to explain the conditions that have resulted in various injustices that have plagued the socio-cultural circumstances in the United States since its founding. The question as to what might be the best solutions to these problems can only be answered when the proper diagnosis of the root cause is identified.

In his advocacy of non-violent solutions for peace and justice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., often invoked the narrative of “the moral arc of the universe bending towards justice.” Because we all have our portions of responsibility in matters of citizenship, family relations and with our extended communities, we can’t expect that the “moral arc of the universe” will bend toward justice without godly virtues and values being practiced in a forthright manner.

In Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is, Michael Novak and Paul Adams explore the origins of the term “social justice” and examine how the concept and its implementation evolved. “Social justice” was coined in the 19th century by Italian Catholic priest Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio, who asserted it was important to make a distinction between legal justice as implemented by the state and social justice — remedying relational conflicts without state intrusion. As such, the idea of social justice has long been part of the social creed of the Roman Catholic Church and several popes have weighed in on the issue via papal encyclicals.

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Reflections on Dr. Hak Jan Han Moon’s Memoir, “Mother of Peace”

By Eileen Williams

Reading the memoir, Mother of Peace by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, became for me a contemplative personal reflection of the labyrinth-like journey of the Unification Church and its metamorphosis into Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community.

I was late to reading True Mother’s memoir.  It was daunting. I put it off. When I finally dove in, a few themes struck a reverberant chord: True Mother’s understanding of herself as a historical person, God’s healing power of love and forgiveness, and the singular purpose of the messianic mission.

I was moved by True Mother’s anecdotal retelling of her early life in the first four chapters.  Middle chapters lose some of their intimate narrative as they veer towards grandiloquence when describing some of the philosophical underpinnings of the various church organizations; however, there are some powerful testimonies regarding foreign missionary work and True Parents’ visits to countries, unthinkable to visit at the time.

The last third of the book, a head-spinning account of travels to Africa and island nations, highlights behind the scenes activities and their interplay within the international scope of the work of True Parents. Therefore, if the reader perseveres to the end (not a particularly easy task at 359 pages) then he or she could certainly be rewarded — as I was — with an amazing glimpse into a vast global vision whose purpose is to shine a spiritual light onto one’s own personal realm of influence.

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Unification Thought Principles of Education in the Coronavirus Era

By John Redmond

Across America, governors, administrators, teachers and parents are sending their children back to school.

A big problem is that the science around preventing the spread of coronavirus is almost completely opposed to the way schools have been designed and run for the last 150 years. When viewed from an epidemiological perspective, “social distancing” and “centralized schools” are almost complete opposites.

This is a perfect time to use the disruption of the Internet and the pandemic to rethink education, from its purpose and desired outcomes to effective use of the new technologies that are quickly becoming universally available. Unification Thought provides a useful framework that can refocus universal education on the skills, abilities and heart necessary for citizens of the 21st century.

The Research Institute for the Integration of World Thought has a great section on the Principles of Education.  Several educational philosophies are reviewed and contrasted to Unification Thought.

The ultimate goal of Unification educators is to co-create with the student a person of character and love, a good individual, parent and citizen, and a natural genius. This large and visionary purpose of education is what sets the Unification approach apart from most education policy today.

Education of Heart: Unificationism assumes that human beings have an original nature of love that has to be intentionally and freely cultivated by the parents and the child.  This is considered the fundamental goal and foundation of the educational process.

Education of Norm: This is where the student learns how others act and why, and practices the form of relationship that is culturally appropriate. In the best application, children follow role models and learn how to communicate love at many levels.

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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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Unconscious First Principles

By John Redmond

Everyone has some blind beliefs about the nature of existence.  They will swear that their ideas are well-reasoned, tempered by experience and fully rational — but they are not.

This is due to the fact we do not cause ourselves to come into being. We can never be fully sure that our suppositions about where we came from and what our purpose might be are correct.  Most people seize on a likely explanation or adopt their family framework and get on with the business of day-to-day living.

The unusual ones search out the larger truths and struggle to understand the patterns that underlie their assumptions. Based on those assumptions, every human, even non-religious ones, “act in faith.”  They make decisions and act as if their concepts are true and blindly hope they are. Even existentialists, proud deniers of doctrine and belief, cling to a first principle of absurdity.

Historically, humans worshipped the sun or nature because of the power those things had over one’s continued existence.  As civilizations developed and the forces of nature were tamed, the elite of most societies sought to develop more sophisticated and well-rounded explanations of how things actually were and then what to do about them. They made ontological assumptions.

Much of the conflict in society today comes from people with opposing ontologies, both conscious and unconscious.

Ontology is the philosophical field revolving around the study of the nature of reality (all that is or exists), and the different entities and categories within reality. All ontologies are hypothetical.  They are a good guess about how things really work and what is behind them.  The way these hypotheses are tested for accuracy is by history.  As generations of humans live based on the assumptions of their ontology, they develop all the other philosophical practices based on those primary assumptions. They also test these for efficacy over time.

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