The Words of the Carlson Family


Paul Carlson
June 2004

This article is about people. Each one of us, and our companions, and everyone in the world.

Every day we hear popular sayings about humanity. Some are correct, and some are wrong; some are new and insightful, others familiar and mundane. The Internet has thousands of these posted, and they’re often hilarious. Thus, we understand a lot about people, and yet we fall short in so many ways.

This quest for self-knowledge has been going on for a long time. Certainly since Adam and Eve, and their artistic descendants who painted Lascaux Cave. The ancient Greeks, and the people of India, honored philosophers and holy men whose names remain famous thousands of years later. Curiously, with similar evidence at hand, they reached very different conclusions about humanity and the universe.

Far from waning, that quest has only expanded. America employs tens of thousands of professionals to find this self knowledge, and to do some deep contemplation. The popular culture has accepted all this with enthusiasm. Women’s magazines are filled with articles and quizzes about personality types, and every possible human relationship. Much of it is goofy psychobabble, but some is quite accurate.

Because of this, there is widespread public understanding. Overall, that’s a good thing. (It’s hard to think of a case in which ignorance trumps knowledge.) Everyone knows what it means to have an ‘inflated ego,’ or to be an ‘introspective hypochondriac,’ or to possess a ‘type A personality.’ These are sophisticated psychological concepts, that were known vaguely, if at all, a hundred years ago.

This knowledge can lead to doubts, often breeding worry or self criticism. (The kind that has nothing to do with spiritual repentance.) Our fears can be exaggerated!

People are terrible at assessing risk, ignoring common dangers while fretting over the latest media scare. Investigative reporter John Stossel has done an excellent job of presenting this issue.

Meanwhile, scientists are learning more. They can now observe people’s reactions to stimuli or questions, internal reasoning processes, and incipient response; by using brain scanners, directly and in real time! Philosophical note: those researchers usually refer to "the brain" in the impersonal ‘third person’ point of view. Some have concluded that a willing person can overcome its innate wiring.


Familiar though it is, this self-understanding can broach some touchy personal subjects, which are difficult to talk about. This being a family publication, I’ll skip about nine-tenths of the potential topics . . .

A man’s need for prowess, whether with a lion-killing spear or a paper wad tossed into a waste basket, is well known. A woman’s longing to be fashionable, whether on the throne of Troy or amidst a downtown crowd, is also beyond doubt.

Hence a man will exercise, or at least, attempt to diet and save his hair. He’ll strive to get more money, in order to support his family. She’ll spend endless hours shopping for clothing and cosmetics. Then, still more hours dressing up, in order to present herself well to her husband (whether prospective or current) and the world.

There are plenty of exceptions, but this behavior has been the norm, worldwide, since ancient times.

No amount of rationalizing has changed this behavior. Feminists, metrosexuals, and various others continue to try. To the extent they have altered things, most of it has harmed marriages and children. Dr. Laura talks about this every day on the radio.


Throughout history, the Golden Rule, in all its forms, has guided human relationships. It’s usually cast in a moral sense.

Bringing this rule into one’s own life is not guaranteed. Famous people such as Hillary Clinton and Werner Erhard, when decades into their lives, have publicly shared their "profound revelations" that [author’s paraphrase] "there are things larger than yourself," and that "helping others progress will help you also." They’ve couched it in an emotional way.

In the logical sphere, the famous ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ analyses the Golden Rule. It proves that cooperation is normally the best strategy. Without trust, both parties will suffer. To no one’s surprise, in these situations, many people are cussed enough to say "no" anyway.

Philosophers call it Altruism, and wonder if such a thing can exist, especially with genuine sincerity. The truth is, it does exist, and it’s always better. Using experience and wisdom, there are special considerations. Being a total doormat doesn’t really help anybody.

The universal acceptance of the terms listed above are a tacit acknowledgment of Goodness. Also, of the ultimate source of morality, best called God.


Humans are social creatures. We tend to look at people, including ourselves, as members of a group.

Some group classifications, such as racial ones, cannot (now) be avoided. Ethnicity may come from nationality or language, and these are often possible to change. As for religion, this may be enforced by personal conviction, peer pressure, and even (in certain insecure societies) by national law. Yet this can also be changed.

Such groupings can be beneficial, or cause horrible conflict, as the current troubles in Israel and Iraq show.

Primitive tribes were small and clannish. Over the course of history, larger groups have (mostly) subsumed that tribalism, starting with Roman, and now American, citizenship.

People usually place their own group above others. This can be good, but too often it’s not. American engineers are spending millions of dollars to install separate, parallel water systems all over Iraq, because one tribe’s little village refuses to trust, or to share anything with, "that other" group’s nearby village.

Not all modern groups are as sensible as they’d like to think.

Californians use more gasoline, per capita and in total, than any other region on Earth. But, they forbid oil drilling where they can see it (offshore), and oppose it when they hear about it (northern Alaska). The state requires a special ‘boutique blend’ of gasoline (that may or may not reduce pollution), and enforces strict refinery regulations, so that no one can build more. And they expect gasoline to be cheap and abundant! The same bizarre process applies to fresh water.

Californians largely favor immigration, even an open border with Mexico. But, they restrict development, and fight to keep every hill and field open and natural. And they expect housing to be readily affordable for everyone.

Unificationists are a ‘tribal’ group, and we’ve even used that term. We’re one of the most diverse groups in history, with many good consequences.

With our Second and Third Generations growing to maturity, we hope that our BCs will stick together. Thus to support each other, rather than adopting a secular lifestyle.

At your author’s local High School, we have enough BCs enrolled to form a clique of their own. This school year, BCs composed a majority of its soccer team. It insulates them from peer pressure to do many common, and really stupid, things. (College remains a different story.)

This gathering of BCs continues in the STF program, with one unexpected result. Young people have joined, and participated with STF successfully. But then left our movement -- because they didn’t feel a part of the BC clique.

That strikes me as terribly unfortunate. I joined at a younger age than most of the folks on STF, and I’ve moved freely (if not always easily) between many different social circles; regional, economic, religious, etc. The early Christians who went forth to pagan lands didn’t worry about staying on Jerusalem’s social ‘A list.’

In any case, we’d better make room for everyone! Our renewed emphasis on witnessing must include an awareness of this situation.

It is fortunate that many Unificationists are getting degrees and certificates in Marriage and Family Counseling. Those members will do much to bring our worldwide family into the coming Kingdom.

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