The Words of Hak Ja Han (Mrs. Sun Myung Moon)
Interview article as it's appeared in Za Rubezhom.
In this era of perestroika, phenomena and people are coming into our social field of vision which before we tried not to see or rejected. Often we were repaid in kind. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon is a complex and contradictory figure. A native of Korea, he currently lives in the United States. He is a great religious leader and a most wealthy industrialist. In his brief biography it is told that in 1936, on Easter morning, Jesus Christ appeared to him and prompted him to religious work. After dramatic, vivid experiences, Sun Myung Moon founded and headed a new Christian movement, whose organizational name became the Unification Church.
Religious revelations occur quite frequently in a certain social and cultural medium. In 19th century Russia, among the old-ritists, there was a small sect whose religious teachers proclaimed themselves to be the earthly incarnation of the spirit of Christ. In the character of Reverend Moon what is most striking is the combination of deep religiosity and business enterprise. At present he stands at the head of an enormous fortune which is used to propagate his ideals. He finances numerous international cultural and scientific associations. He stands behind a flourishing newspaper-magazine conglomerate with publications not only in the United States, but in South Korea, Cyprus, and Argentina as well.
Nevertheless, in the United States, Sun Myung Moon has been treated with a well-known guardedness, both as a religious leader and as a businessman. At one time from religious circles in the United States, there seemed to come a steady stream of defamation of him and his followers. Likewise, on accusation of violating tax laws he was sentenced to prison.
For many years Sun Myung Moon did not hide his animosity towards communism, towards the Soviet Union. He was the founder of the famous Anti-Communist League, a product of the "cold war." He explained his position, apparently sincerely, in that communism is atheistic by its very nature. But both perestroika in the Soviet Union and the important transformations in China compelled him to reconsider his previous views. Addressing an international conference of journalists in Washington, DC in April in the presence of Soviet and Chinese delegations he said: "The communist world is rapidly changing. I approve of the new policy of glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union and the reforms carried out in China. The media in both countries are playing the leading role in these changes."
Reverend Moon doesn't give interviews. But his wife and comrade-in-arms, Hak Ja Han Moon, amiably agreed to answer several of my questions. We publish her answers with minor abbreviations. I think they shed light on what is one of the most unique and influential of the new religious movements, not only in the United States, and on the approach of its spiritual leader to an entire host of important problems for all of humanity.
Question: The Unification Church is active in many countries of the world, and numbers hundreds of thousands of followers. Their concerns and dreams apparently find expression in the teachings of Reverend Moon. What goals does he advance?
When my husband approaches God in prayer, he doesn't ask God for help, but asks what His Will is. And he pledges to fulfill it. According to my observation, when my husband sets out to work in this spirit, God helps him even without his asking.
I want to emphasize that racism, religious intolerance, the desecration of nature, and other misfortunes of our world are the result of serious problems in the human heart. That's where we should approach the solution of world problems. The hatred in the heart of man must be replaced with love.
It is well known that my husband was a long-time opponent of communism. This is no secret. But I want to emphasize that he didn't hold this position out of malice. He held it because Marxism doesn't recognize the existence of God. But my husband always believed in the grandeur of the Soviet Union. Today the West is falling into decline because of its callousness in relation to God, and its abuse of human freedom. When the nation of the Soviet Union carries out the reform of its system, and religious freedoms will be firmly restored, prosperity will undoubtedly come. With God's help the future of the Soviet Union will be bright. You should strongly believe in your country. My husband asked me to say to you, may God bless you and your families, may God bless the people of the Soviet Union.
Question: In the present day there is a growing concern throughout the world with ecological problems. In the opinion of the Soviet Union, international cooperation is essential to save the world from ecological catastrophe. What is your opinion, the opinion of Reverend Moon concerning these problems?
Originally, nature itself maintained its own balance, but when human beings are included in the equation, they destroy the balance of nature. In this century, mankind has achieved astonishing technical and scientific successes. The USSR created the Sputnik, and was proud to call Yuri Gagarin its son. Just think also about the surprising break-throughs accomplished in recent years in medicine, such as the polio vaccines of Salk and Sabin.
I believe that God is working through science as well, so that we could understand the importance of having the greatest concern about the environment. Today we understand that many household items such as aerosol sprays can cause lasting damage to nature if they are not used with the necessary caution. We also understand that we are going to have to cope with the consequences of the fact that we continue to produce an enormous quantity of wastes that are unrecyclable and which are not biodegradable. The consequences of poor management in agriculture such as the destruction of huge rain forests are becoming more and more obvious. And what's more, from such catastrophes such as "Three Mile Island" in the United States and Chernobyl, we see the absolute necessity of a more cautious approach to the peaceful development of nuclear energy.
I attended the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Two of our children were on the South Korean Olympic equestrian teams. What really moved me about this event was the growing awareness of the importance of international cooperation. It is becoming more and more clear that no nation is an isolated island.
As international cooperation grows, it becomes possible in the sphere of ecology to accomplish worldwide agreement of the steps we must take for the defense of the conditions of life on our planet. The USSR is correct in opening up international cooperation in this vitally important area. All world leaders are obligated to recognize their responsibility before the future generation of the human family.
In this regard it might interest you to know that for the past seventeen years my husband has sponsored the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences. Every year we gather scientists from all over the world, including many Nobel laureates. These conferences research the moral aspect of science and technology. The conference proceedings have been published, and many of the papers dealt with how to better defend our environment.
Mr. Vladimir Iordansky and Dr. Bo Hi Pak at the Tenth World Media Conference
Question: There are many people in the world in need of compassion and help. In the Soviet Union today there are emerging numerous charitable organizations and movements. An enormous work is being conducted in giving support to those who are being treated for alcoholism and drug addiction. Could you tell us what you are doing in this area? In your opinion, is cooperation between Soviet charitable organizations and the Unification Church possible, and if so in what ways?
We would very much want to study the possibilities of joint work with the Soviet Union on projects in these areas. My husband's thought always transcends the limits of nations, religions, and political beliefs. There are three key problems we need to address. These are the problems of hunger, disease, and illiteracy.
For us it would be very valuable to study the ways in which we could work together with the Soviet agencies which deal with these problems. We would be more than happy to cooperate in an approach to these problems, be it inside or outside the Soviet Union.
Let me give you an example of how we are approaching some of the problems which you mentioned. Above all, problems such as alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as immorality and family breakdown, stem from spiritual confusion and lack of self-control. If medicine and psychology are capable of only partially curing these problems, then we believe the churches must play an important role.
On an international scale, one of the most severe problems which our world faces is the scientific-technological gap between nations. Some of the most developed nations in the world are not sharing their scientific-technological knowledge with the countries of the so-called "third world." This is an incorrect position. It is our duty to work together towards the creation of an international sphere of cooperation and co-prosperity.
As long as the gap between poor and rich countries is maintained, the soil for conflict and war remains.
We have a permanent team of doctors and nurses who work on projects of medical assistance. In addition we have assisted in the construction of schools and orphanages in the "third world." We are also helping the victims of natural disasters, and in particular, we assisted in the collection, of aid for the victims of the tragic Armenian earthquake.
However, there are needy in the United States as well. In 1984 my husband acquired 250 ten-ton trucks and assigned five to be used in each of the 50 states. They are used mainly to deliver food products to the needy.
The businesses founded by members of the Unification Church are helping to hasten technical progress in the developing countries. Perhaps you know that we have businesses in Africa, China, and other regions. In keeping with our policy, we don't take out the profits from those countries where our enterprises are functioning, but rather we reinvest them.
Question: In conclusion, could you describe to us how Reverend Moon's working day is structured: and perhaps a few words about your family?
My husband's activity has attracted wide interest, but also onslaughts of hysteria in certain circles. The reason has been the distorted presentation about my husband in the media. Often when people meet Reverend Moon they expect to see a monster, and are amazed to see what a loving and attentive person he is. Surely you were also surprised, having met him personally.
My husband is, all in one person, a fisherman and a businessman, a newspaper publisher and a thinker, as well as many other things. But above all he is a religious leader. If you would spend even a day with him, you would immediately become convinced of this yourself.
When my husband was in prison for thirteen months in the United States, the other prisoners expected that he would try to get an easy life, but they discovered a completely different person. Every day he woke up and prayed from three to five o'clock in the morning. One day the prison chaplain came to him and said, "Reverend Moon, you are a minister and every Sunday you are welcome to use the chapel. Which time would suit you: seven, nine, or even eleven o'clock a.m.? My husband asked, "Is the chapel open at three o'clock?" The chaplain replied, "No problem. I'll call you at three o'clock in the afternoon." My husband said, "No, I want to use it at three o'clock in the morning, if it is possible." The chaplain thought perhaps there was some sort of misunderstanding, but my husband made it clear that he meant the morning. He joked, "I doubt that in America there are many people who pray at three in the morning, so therefore it will be easier for me to get a direct line to God."
Usually my husband gets up very early, beginning his day with long prayer. After that, he plan s his day and greets the children. Breakfast starts exactly at 7:30. It's also a working session. In the United States alone, my husband created more than three hundred organizations and businesses. You see, that's enough to occupy him for a long time. The morning meetings continue into the afternoon. At lunch the working sessions don't stop.
After midday my husband usually visits one of the organizations founded by him. There he chats with its members, and answers their questions. He returns home for dinner. At dinner the meetings continue, finishing up about one o'clock in the morning. My husband is almost 70 years old. He leads a very disciplined way of life. If you're by his side for a few days you discover that he is constantly loading himself down with work.
We have twelve children: six daughters and six sons. Already more than half of our children have their own families. Our oldest child, a daughter, is 28, and our youngest, also a girl, will soon be seven. It's not simple to be the mother of so many children. And now there are grandchildren. Seven of them already!
We believe that the family is the only institution created by God Himself.
Sometimes we speak of it as a school of love, a place where we learn to relate to all human beings. We also believe that the family is the building block of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
The interview is over. Entirely new, often foreign and unusual notions.... But our time is a time of tolerance, a time of respect for another person, moreover of religious views -- this is a deeply personal question of his conscience. Such tolerance, personal and social, opens up possibilities today for cooperation in concrete and practical affairs. This is important. Surely conceptions of new thought propose the joint action of all the forces of humanity which strive to rid the world of its old ashes of hunger, economic backwardness, epidemics, and from the newer dangers which loom over it -- ecological, military, nuclear.
Matthew and Beth Morrison with the leader of the Soviet delegation, Yuri Romantsov, receiving a gift for Father and Mother.
I served as staff taking care of the participants during the World Media Conference this year. It was a very deep and special experience to see Father and Mother relating to media people from around the world. Father remarked that it was significant to see media people, who are rarely religious or notably heartistic, become melted together with one heart by the end of the conference -- really like a family. I could see that numerous people have grown to deeply appreciate Father's work.
An important aspect of this conference was the participation of 12 delegates from the Soviet Union and six representatives from the People's Republic of China. At one point we had a special reception for them, during which time pictures were taken of Father and Mother with the Soviet group and then with the Chinese group. Neither nation, however, was quite ready to have their picture taken with the other! But they were honored and happy to pose with Father and Mother.
Father really stood as a parent to this conference. Some of the speakers were very harsh in their comments about the Soviet Union and communism. But when Father got up to speak, he embraced them like a parent. He said to the Chinese delegation: "I'm so grateful to have you as our guests, and I hope that I can go to your country soon and walk with you on the Great Wall, now that all the other walls between us are crumbling." I sensed Father felt tremendous love toward the people of China and he viewed these journalists as representatives of that vast and providential nation. I was amazed to see how much love he expressed to people who were once his adversaries.
After the media conference, Larry Moffitt and John Robbins flew with the 12 Soviet journalists to Missoula, Montana, where they met with a number of local community leaders and stayed in different homes of private citizens. In the evening they visited several Indian tribes and got on an old-fashioned American train that took them over the Cascades. They arrived in Seattle, all wearing ten gallon cowboy hats from Montana. They were certainly an unusual sight.
The first day we visited the former governor of Washington State, Dixy Lee Ray. They had a wonderful afternoon of food and sharing with this remarkable woman, a top nuclear physicist, who had been the head of the Atomic Energy Commission and then governor. They were astounded that a woman who was a scientist could be so successful in politics. They pointed out that this would not happen in the Soviet Union.
On the second day, we visited numerous sites around the Seattle area, including our movement's crab processing factory and fish plant. They were extremely interested to see how we made crab meat out of cod fish. One Russian requested a joint venture with our fishing fleet in the Bering Straits off Alaska. Astounded that from a spiritual insight so many diverse projects were going on, they remarked, "How could Rev. Moon be a minister and have such a practical vision as well?"
One from Moscow had been stationed in India and had seen several spiritual healings. He was very interested in religion, and asked for a Russian language Bible and for a Divine Principle book. From his own experiences he was convinced that there really must be a God and was very curious to understand how we saw the nature of God.
Two of the Soviets had been stationed in Havana, Cuba and one of them was a TV journalist from Beirut, who spoke fluent Arabic. (He had a very lengthy discussion with Jahan Shahi of our International Middle East Alliance and was fascinated to hear Rev. Moon's ideas about unity in the Middle East.)
Singing "God Bless America' at the home of Matthew Morrison. Left to right John Robbins, Vitaly Kobysh, Amy Morrison, Yevgeny Bugaenko, Claire Brossman and Janet Arnold
The second evening we invited other blessed couples to have dinner with the visitors at my home. After dinner, we all gathered and started singing songs. What began as a very simple evening became like an evening program. It was so stunning to me that we were singing family songs and dancing with communist leaders from the Soviet Union. Each nationality took turns singing: There was a Lithuanian song, then a Georgian song, an Armenian song, an American song, a French song, and so on. We did the Virginia Reel, and then they stood up and sang "America the Beautiful" with us. They even wanted us to sing several holy songs. Finally we joined hands, sang "Tong.il," and concluded with a prayer. It was a very remarkable evening. There was a tremendous spirit of true heartistic unity. The leader of their delegation mentioned to me that he felt this evening was a high point of their trip. Several remarked that they could feel something "very human." I think it was more that they felt God's love in the beauty and harmony that had been created.
Our blessed children had finger-painted placemats depicting Russian and American families together. My children handed each Russian visitor a gift from the blessed children that they could take back to their own families.
They were very moved, and in turn, gave my children little toys. They seemed to always have something in their pockets to give out to everyone they met -- some little trinket or toy. They also gave us a Russian doll teapot-warmer to give to Father and Mother.
I sensed how much the Soviet Union is desperate for the truth and ripe for spiritual harvest. I could imagine our True Parents going to Moscow and speaking to the people. The people know that Father is special They've heard as much about him in the Soviet Union as we have in America. In the Soviet Union, when they say someone is the foremost anti-communist, I believe then everyone knows he must be a good man.
I was with the Soviets when they said they had to have a World Media Conference in Moscow. They asked Larry, "If we invite Rev. Moon, do you think he would come?" Larry answered, "I'm sure he'd be very pleased." One of them laughed and said, "That would cause such a sensation!" I think God could use this in an amazing way to bring the truth to the Soviet Union.
Embraced by True Parents
What was remarkable was how powerful our brothers and sisters are. These men were traveling together, but they had never really known each other before. They were very moved by the warmth and heart of our international family. We had people from Germany, Iran, Japan, Korea, and America. They found it hard to believe that we were all friends and all part of the same movement.
In their individual conversations with us it was very clear that they were checking us out. They wanted to know all about Rev. Moon: What are his real goals and what motivated us to join the church? At one point they remarked they could tell that Rev. Moon was not a politician because they view politicians as people who never tell the truth and are always scheming. Whereas they felt sincerity from Father and our members.
Wherever we went, on radio shows and at newspaper interviews, they were very proud to say, "We're being sponsored by Rev. Moon." It definitely stimulated a lot of interesting comment because everyone knew of our strong stand against communism. It proved to the people of Seattle that we're not dogmatic anti-communists, but are desperate to serve and reach the people of the Soviet Union in any way possible, though of course we still disagree with the atheistic principles of communism.
After they left, I had a deep prayer and cried about the incredible depth of Father's commitment. He had almost been killed several times by communists, but now he was embracing the same people who had been his torturers. I thought about our own members who risked their lives to witness to those behind the Iron Curtain. This is really the fruit of their incredible loneliness and sacrifice. The world is changing so quickly because of Father's sacrifice. I have so much hope for the future. I can see that people can respond to the Principle and the heart of True Parents in places we never imagined.
I think this is just the beginning. They invited all of us to come to the Soviet Union, and they are planning to return to Seattle next year for the Goodwill Games. It's so exciting that both Russia and China are competing to host the World Media Conference. What was once an impossible dream is finally becoming a reality.