The Words of the Betancourt Family
"The Role of Today's Political Leaders in Building a Culture of Peace"
Antonio L, Betancourt
Executive Director, Summit Council for World Peace; President, World Institute for Development and Peace
Inter-religious And International Federation For World Peace
Prepared for the International Leadership Seminar sponsored by the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), in partnership with the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO), the World Media Association, and the World University Federation on the theme "A New Vision for Leadership Through Public Service: Toward Peace in the Family and Peace in the Nations," held in Miami, Prague, Moscow, New York, Montevideo, May -- June 2001.
Distinguished religious leaders, congressmen, senators, academicians, and other distinguished members of civil society, to me it is a great honor to address you with the theme, "The Role of Political Leaders in a Culture of Peace."
What is the responsibility of leaders for the establishment of a culture of peace? Rev. Moon says:
"Dear respected leaders, I know you have brought forth tremendous accomplishments. You have advanced human welfare and social development in each area of your endeavors through exceptional dedication. And of course you should continue to make even greater contributions. However, humanity now faces grave peril. Remedies from any one specialized area will not be sufficient. As leaders you should become the conscience of the age. And should lead by actively providing examples to guide and create true families, which are the prerequisite and fundamental basis of a peaceful world."
Rev. Moon continues,
"A peaceful nation is needed before there can be world peace. The precondition for peace in a nation is peace in the family. Power, wealth and knowledge, which worldly people ordinarily desire, cannot be the necessary and sufficient condition for peace and happiness. True happiness is not proportional to how much property one owns, and is not dependent on the external degree of comfort. One can attain true peace and true happiness when such things as power, wealth, and knowledge are accompanied with true love."
"In other words, if you have all the accessories and you have true love, then you can think of long peace. Genuine peace and infinite happiness can only be gained when we serve others with true love, and when that love is returned."
Dear leaders, what can be more urgent than to save humanity from its path of family destruction? I urge all of you to actively participate in the True Family Movement for the sake of world peace.
Some believe that with the inauguration of the new millennium there has occurred a paradigm shift. I believe that this paradigm shift has to do with the conclusion of the last 40 years that began in 1960 with the sexual revolution and the triumph of secular humanism and moral relativism. In reality the last 40 years is an encapsulation of the last 200 years, the legacy of the French Revolution. The French Revolution and the Enlightenment left very good things, but also left very bad things as seeds of conflict and confusion in values.
For the last 40 years, we have seen moral relativism replacing traditional values, beliefs, touchstones, and traditional virtues in the case of America. Secular humanism and moral relativism were planted in academia at the universities and took over the centers of thought and opinion -- the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the Washington Post, magazines, serious journals and trashy ones, television, Hollywood entertainment, literature, fiction, etc. During the last 40 years you cannot find any serious publication or intellectual journal that would acknowledge God and religion with respect in a serious manner. If they did discuss it, it was to discredit, to plant seeds of doubt, exaggerating mistakes of religious leaders, religious history and the affairs of Christians and non-Christian religious leaders.
To Rescue the Culture of Life
The responsibility of world leaders today is to rescue the culture of life. We need to rebuild once again the culture of life from the culture of death that has been impregnating the whole of society that comes from the modern world, the USA and Europe, because it is from these regions through satellite communications and the Internet circumventing borders and frontiers -- that modernity is penetrating major religious and culture spheres with a culture of death and moral decay. In fact, there is an attempt to Americanize the whole world but this is a different American culture and values then the one exposed by the original Founding Fathers, values which have been negated by the secular prophets of deconstruction and modern American thought today, the creators of a new "democratic" popular culture. So the timeless values of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and all the sacred inheritance of humanity is at stake today because of the cultural challenges of modernism.
Behind present culture is moral relativism that believes that there are no absolute moral truths and values, nothing is true, and nothing is false. Instead we have an accommodating situational ethics -- what is ethical today is not ethical tomorrow. In the past you could prevent the coming of hoards of infidels and barbarians and hold them at the border. But modern communication technologies, like the Internet and satellites, bypass not only borders but laws, leadership, and everything that countries, governments, and religions of the world have to prevent the contamination of their societies.
World leaders have to take responsibility to help rebuild society. The question is, how can this be accomplished during this process of globalization and as the world moves towards standardization. Today there is a drive towards standardization in everything by government agreements. The UN, with the support of the United States and the main European powers, pushes for a twisted concept of human rights, a warped concept of freedom -- led by moral relativists and very powerful NGO's. Some of them very active in conferences such as population control and summits, whether they be in Rio, Beijing, Istanbul, or Cairo, carrying agendas with content which are an abomination to religious people and people of conscience, and to people who believe in certain norms of conduct and traditions which they have been followed for a millennia.
God needs to be reintroduced to the main stream of society
We need to reintroduce God to the main sphere of society since God has been kicked out of everyday life. Today, religious institutions, religious universities and religious people are what moral relativists used to be 40 or 50 years ago, that is, on the periphery and on the defensive of the debate. We need to reintroduce God and religion into people's daily life. The question is how to do that?
I don't advocate ridding society of moral relativists. They have a role, as do atheists as well. They have to question the irrationality of religion and belief. But we cannot let one group prevail at the expense of others, especially with ideas that are perverted and destructive. I give one example. Moral relativists in America have enacted laws in some states that permit 12 year old girls and older to obtain abortions without parental notification and consent. The laws permit the expenditure of a certain amount of money. But if the hospital expense exceeds the allocated amount due to complications, then the parents are contacted to pay the balance. This is the result of a very warped concept of humanity and womanhood.
We need to reveal and help God re-enter the mainstream of society, and the only way to do that is through the values of true families and the virtues of true love because God is at their core. God is the standard measure of true love, true life, and true ideals. This standard can only be actualized in the context of true families. The logic and ethics of true love also can only be understood in the context of true families -- true love relationships between father, mother, children, brothers and sisters, grandparents, and so forth. The ethics, logic, purpose, direction, and intent of true love is to connect our own family with all of humanity through universally shared values or virtues, and to embrace the whole of humanity as my own extended family.
We have to confront moral relativism with the virtues of true love. We have to present clear counterproposals to the perversion of the concepts of freedom and human rights, the politicization of science and political correctness. We have to challenge the modern inquisitors and defenders of the new popular culture. We have to overcome the self-denial of the leading thinkers of popular culture who refuse to acknowledge the result of their thinking even though the evidence is so real.
The widespread of drug trafficking and drug addiction is the result of moral relativism. The spread of AIDS and the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases derive from moral relativism. Sixty percent of girls pregnant in some communities, 85 percent of children born out of wedlock in many communities of the world, violence out of control in our streets and our schools -- this is the result of moral relativism. Homosexuality and deviant forms of sexual behavior rampant and with aggressive promotion as a proud normal lifestyle is the result of moral relativism. Teaching a perverted concept of tolerance, in which you cannot exercise a moral judgment on anything because it is considered a form of fascism, even if you judge with love, is the result of moral relativism.
In trying to bring moral truths into the classroom or the debate, you are labeled intolerant or part of the religious right. When religions speak of morality, they are automatically accused of being ultra-right. We have to be very careful how we challenge the self-denial of the moral relativists and the anti-religious intellectuals in America and Europe, and the intellectuals who hold the same views in each of your societies because the problem is that no one wants to be part of a retrograde or antiquated obscurantist society. Most people want to be modern and progressive. The idea is to become a mirror and an echo chamber for the modern U.S., European, and Japanese culture that comes through the entertainment industry, Hollywood, literature, books, journals, the Internet, and other forms of electronic media.
Intellectuals in your countries, especially in academia, social engineers, and the mass media want to reflect modern American and European thought and culture -- American television, American talk shows, and American shock culture. Why? Because they want to be modern. They don't want to be part of the past, but be seen as modern, progressive, and cool.
The only way that we can overcome this is with a culture of true love, and the ethics of true love. In other words, with the logic and virtues of true love. You may ask, describe true love for us. First of all, true love begins in a family, with the true love of a child, the true love of brothers and sisters, the true love between spouses, and true love of parents.
Let's define true love. True Love is to give and give and give and erase the memory of what has been given.
In terms of society, again, true love relations begin with the family. True love is altruism, meaning to live for the sake of others. Because I love my spouse, I am honest and loyal to him or her. Because I love my family, I am unselfish. Because I love my country, I am willing to give my life for my country.
Innocence is part of true love. Purity is part of true love. True love is patience. Benevolence. Mercifulness. Generosity, loyalty, trust, respect, and magnanimity. Integrity, and unity of mind and body. You cannot call yourself a person of integrity if you say one thing and do another. Integrity means unity of mind, words, ideas, concepts, beliefs, and actions. Because I love, I have integrity. Because I love and respect myself, I have integrity.
True love is obedience and surrender. Because I subordinate, I surrender myself to my wife, and my sexuality to her. And because she loves me, she surrenders herself and her sexuality to me. We own each other's sexuality therefore we are faithful. That is true love.
Where does dignity come from? True love. Because I love black people, I recognize their dignity. Because I love native people, I treat them with dignity. It's not a gift from me. I just have to recognize their dignity. This is true love.
Because I love, I care. Because I love, I share. I am grateful. I am humble. I am meek. I have empathy. I am tolerant, I am thoughtful, I am compassionate and sacrificial. I am harmonious. I am peaceful. I serve and serve and serve, and I give and give and give, and forget that I gave. I erase the memory of what has been given. That is true love. I am courteous. I am public-minded. I am objective. I cannot have a subjective mind. The only subjective thing is true love.
We are an object to God's love. We can only be subjects in loving, sacrificing, taking responsibility, and giving ourselves. We have to be committed. I have to demonstrate endurance, tenacity, consistency, forbearance, and fortitude. How do I react to troubles, betrayal, calamities, and disgrace? This is fortitude. Externally, we have to develop our creativity and ingenuity, technical abilities, and our intellectual capacity. All of this is true love. True love guides us to maturity and fulfillment.
The culture of peace is the culture of true love. These are universally shared ideals, whether one is a Muslim, Hindu, Christian, or Buddhist, whether they are Orthodox Jews, secular Jews, it doesn't matter. Shiites or Sunnis. It doesn't matter. Taoism, Confucianism, or whether they don't believe in God but are people of conscience. This is a unifying quality.
Rev. Moon wants to organize a series of conferences with these themes inviting even incumbent presidents and prime ministers. I request that you kindly use whatever leverage and influence you have in your countries to talk to your presidents and prime ministers to be ready to attend a summit meeting that will focus on these issues.
We want to bring incumbent heads of state because they need to understand the gravity of the situation, and that our societies are in peril. Our families are disintegrating as they embrace modern life. The lives of our children are slipping through our fingers. We are trying to hold them but they are falling. Why? Because the infrastructure of ethics and morality has been basically fractured and in some countries destroyed in the last 40 years. In many communities around the world it is almost impossible for elders, grandparents, and parents to pass on the richness of spiritual inheritance that they received from their ancestors and to bequeath this inheritance to the second generation of young people because of the counter messages coming from modern thought.
It is the responsibility of national leaders, especially heads of state and government, to help rebuild society at its foundation. Without true love relations there is no basis for a sound economy, healthy politics, and altruistic give-and-take between all components of society. You cannot build institutions and society cannot be free. Institutionalized corruption at every level, disorder and chaos are society's everyday diet. It is the responsibility of the leaders at the top to acknowledge these problems and help rebuild society. This mandate is not only for the developing world but for the developed world as well.
As we begin this new century and millennium, we must acknowledge a paradigm shift. We have an opportunity to undo the damage done by the Enlightenment, the confusion of value systems that have challenged initially the tenets of Western civilization and now world civilization. Our purpose is not to go out and destroy the infidels. That irresponsible action belongs to a very sad and tragic past. The future belongs to spiritual people who embrace the triumph of God and true love. No matter what religion, race, nationality, or economic condition.
We have a responsibility to build a culture of peace but a culture of peace cannot be founded on the concept of humanity being an added value of mere molecules with complex chemical interactions because within the molecules that make this physical objective reality there are already the attributes of intellect to seek for truth, emotion to create and find beauty, and the will to move and make things happen. The purpose of intellect, emotion, and will is for the fulfillment of true love, which is the goal of our creator and of mankind as the image and likeness of the creator. Therefore the culture of peace springs out of the philosophy of true love as Rev. Moon stated.
"This philosophy must not be one that seeks the fulfillment of individual desires. Rather, it must seek the salvation of all humanity. It must not be centered on the self… Our idea is to unite with the reciprocal environment in order to establish a reciprocal standard of a higher level." World Unification and North-South Unification Will Be Accomplished by True Love, Feb. 10, 2000 (Olympic Gymnasium at WCSF)
"The planet Earth is the hometown of all humankind, and the spirit world is the eternal fatherland where all humanity will eventually arrive. Finally, the time has come for the global family ideal to be realized on the planet Earth centered on the Heavenly Parent, moving us beyond 'One Nation under God' to 'One Cosmos under God.'" The Cosmos is Our Hometown and Our Fatherland" February 2, 2000 (Capitol Hill)
I invite you to help us do that. We have to have a living faith and we have to have a practical faith. The NGO's will demonstrate faith by action, and the religious leaders and religious communities will demonstrate faith by living it every day through true love. As ambassadors of true love, please help us to organize these summits of true love and help us to transform societies through the ethics and the virtues of the True Family Movement.
Thank you very much.
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