Absolute Values and the Reassessment of the Contemporary World
Reverend Sun Myung Moon
International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences
August 24, 1991
Honorable chairman, vice-chairmen, committee chairmen, distinguished scholars, ladies and gentlemen:
It gives me great pleasure to greet you again in my home country of Korea.
Already, ten years have passed since we held our discussions here in Seoul on “The Creation of the New World.” At that time, I proposed the building of an international highway system extending from East Asia and connecting all regions of the world. Also, we began then a project to publish the results of your research in a manner that would give constructive influence to the younger generations around the world.
Ten years ago, such plans seemed like impossible dreams. Today, however, we have established the necessary foundations for their realization, and we are beginning to see emerge the broad outlines of their completed forms. Preliminary plans have been completed for an undersea tunnel connecting Japan and Korea, and an exploratory tunnel is now under construction. For the publication of your papers and books, we now have the publishing house Paragon House and the magazine The World & I. In addition, the Federation for World Peace and the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace are to be established here in your presence. I proposed these two organizations last year, and I believe you later received mailings with further information.
Ladies and gentlemen, the contemporary world around us is in a period of transition, and is in need of careful reassessment. The consistent emphasis on values in past ICUS conference themes may have been considered prophetic in their nature. Today, however, the cry for new values can be heard from around the world, and the work of this conference has become an important means for dealing with our immediate reality. The dramatic changes occurring in the Soviet Union and in Eastern and Central Europe underscore this fact.
Following the collapse of the communist world, there are those who speak with self-assurance of the superiority of the West’s existing values and institutions. We must examine, however, the societies of the free world and other non-communist countries that until recently stood in opposition to the communist bloc. Where are these societies going? Does their progress reassure us that the future happiness of the world’s peoples is guaranteed? We can see that, even after the collapse of the communist bloc, many problems still remain in our world. To develop the necessary solutions, we need to look to the deeper origins of such problems. Our task should be a fundamental reassessment of all the institutions and life-styles of our contemporary world. Such a reassessment will enable us to identify those aspects of our world that can be considered suitable and fitting by an enlightened and awakened humanity possessing a renewed consciousness.
Fundamentally, the confusion in the value systems of today’s societies derives from a break in the original vertical order between God and humanity. The various institutions and values we have today lack clear direction and are inherently unstable and mutually contradictory, because they are man-made orders established horizontally, that is, without an axis connecting them to God.
The universe does not exist merely on the basis of individual material substances that are its component parts. Our world is not a mere sum total of isolated individual substances. Material substances derive their primary existence from the energy that appears through their relationships with other substances. Societies exist, prosper and develop within the context of mutual give and take relationships. Behind such relationships–that is, behind each relationship between material substances and behind each give and take relationship between individual beings–there is a pre-existing vertical order of a higher dimension that endows these individual substances with a common motivational drive and purpose. For example, human beings have been endowed with freedom in order that we may experience the highest levels of joy and love for God and for our fellow human beings. Thus, if we are to attain the purpose of our existence, we must first inherit the true love of God.
In the ideal human society, true love that always seeks “to give to others” forms the basis for all relationships. Such true love is motivated by the experience of the true love of parents. The true love of parents, which is in turn rooted in God’s true love, is the means to nurture a child’s character to its full completed state. A man and a woman nurtured in this way, and each possessing completed character, come together as husband and wife to form a family, where they will convey true love to their children. This is the original order of Creation. The ideal world on earth is built when one individual possessing completed character is able to expand true love in ever-widening concentric circles of family, society, nation and world.
Our world today has a different origin from the ideal world I have just described. Today, we have an expansion of the results of the Human Fall, an event in which human beings departed from the most important of the principles of God’s creative act, that is, the discipline of love. Having turned against the order of God’s Creation, our world today places value in man-made organizations and structures and in the order of law. These are incapable of raising up ideal individuals, families and peoples. They cannot provide a guarantee for a truly brighter tomorrow for the people of the world.
Respected scholars, you are highly educated in fields dealing with the developmental aspects of nature and human society. The natural world around us and our societies are suffering daily violence and injury. With each passing day, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat become more polluted. Despite advances of science and the increasing convenience of daily life, we find increasing cause for despair. If humanity in the twenty-first century continues to place itself outside the fundamental principles of God, who created the universe, we will no longer be able to exist as master of the planet earth. Closer human relations, even if some may not want them, are necessary for the future of humanity.
We are entering the age of “one global family,” in which we will have no choice but to live in much closer proximity to those whose religions, nationalities, and skin colors are different from our own. In such a world, we will need to develop a genuine acceptance for–as opposed to simple appreciation of–the wide variety of religions, cultural traditions and life-styles around us. It will be impossible for any individual or group to selfishly choose to possess their own separate haven. Humanity must no longer despoil nature for its own selfish purposes but must utilize and develop nature in accordance with the larger purposes of the world community and future generations. What will be the underlying order of this new age and new society, and how are we to raise up the constructive members of such a global society? This question can only be answered in terms of the order of God’s Creation, with the discipline of love as its central axis.
Respected scholars, perhaps the points I have raised here will help to explain why I, as one who has consistently sought to realize God’s Will, have sponsored eighteen sessions of the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences over nearly twenty years. Decades ago, I foresaw the future toward which society was progressing. Despite the inability of some to appreciate my efforts, I have maintained my spiritual and material support for this conference with conviction. It is because of this ardent desire to serve the future of humanity that, beginning with the first session in 1972, ICUS has had an unconventional structure that brings together scholars in the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences in a common forum that emphasizes interdisciplinary harmony and unity.
I recognize that each academic discipline has its own specific characteristics, and I understand the need for specialization in research. Research conducted in the various individual fields, however, must be brought together through mutually cooperative and complementary relationships in order to serve the purpose of good. This is also the reason I have continued to place in the theme of each ICUS conference the term “absolute values,” although scientists frequently find this concept objectionable. I am grateful that you and many other scholars around the world have come to share my vision and are cooperating to organize and continue the work of this conference.
ICUS must now develop to a new level. With absolute values as our central axis, we must now begin an aggressive effort to teach and apply the results of the comprehensive research of this conference in ways that will benefit the future of the world. With this in mind, the ICUS structure already has served as a medium for establishing branches of the Professors World Peace Academy in ninety-five countries, so as to involve the scholars in these countries in a worldwide cultural effort. Many people have expressed great hope in such a practical movement of conscientious scholars. For intellectuals, who form the most respected group in our society, taking the lead in conveying proper values to the young people of the world in no less important a task than your work as professors in your specific fields.
I believe it is important to have scholars from around the world form teams to visit various countries and give wide-ranging instruction. A program of this type has already been conducted with significant success in Japan and Korea. There is a need for a worldwide participation of scholars in a movement to give new vision to the people of our contemporary world, particularly the young people, so as to save them from the snares of drugs, hedonism, violence and war. With your ingenuity and practical experience, I know we can build a new world culture.
Finally, let me say that I am confident that many valuable discussions and conclusions will come out of this conference being held in my home country. I am proud of Korea for the fact that it has maintained a beautiful cultural tradition, including a strong tradition of families, in spite of its long history of suffering. I also believe Korea can be praised for having risen from the ashes of successive wars to rapidly achieve its current economic prosperity. I hope you will have a fruitful stay here.
I pray that God’s protection and blessing will be with you and your families. Thank you very much.