December 12, 2004
IIFWP identifies two core principles as requisite for the effective pursuit of peace. These are "living for the sake of others", and "life without boundaries." These concepts carry a great danger of misunderstanding, which could slow down or impede our peace efforts. Why? It is because people use terms like these thinking they have a single, universal meaning. In fact the meanings can vary greatly from person to person. We can end up speaking past each other, while thinking we are on a shared road of understanding.
If we are going to build a serious, substantial, and expansive peace movement, involving top world leaders, it is crucial that collaborators and fellow travelers share clear and common use of terms at the very outset. This will avoid problems and disappointments later down the line.
Living for others, and living without boundaries seem like common sense terms, and obvious requisites for effectively pursuing lasting peace. Yet if they are so obvious, and make such common sense, then why don't we have peace already? Further if they obviously have not brought peace, then why would IIFWP be so excited about its prospects, simply by stringing these simple notions together? This really needs to be considered! No one here needs to be wasting their time.
Life for the Sake of Others
Is this phrase just another name for "unselfishness"? Is IIFWP's great contribution to world peace nothing more than an admonition to "not be selfish"? How would this great insight apply? Say you make a million dollars a year and pass someone with nothing. In this moment, what would successfully constitute "living for the sake of others"? What if you gave this person 10 dollars? I think it must be very rare for a destitute person to receive 10 dollars from a passerby. But if you are worth several million dollars and you meet someone with absolutely nothing, no food, no shelter, I think it should hardly count much as living for the sake of others, by giving the person 10 dollars. Well how about 100 dollars? Is that enough? How about deciding to give this person a modest room, meals each day, shoes, and a coat for winter. Then you would end up with 994,000 dollars each year, and the other person has a room, food, shoes and a coat. How's that? Is that enough? Should you do that for the next person you meet who has nothing? Or would that start to eat to much into your remaining 994,000 dollars? Another option might be to yourself have just a room, food, shoes and a coat, then with your million dollars a year 750 people could live without want. You could be one of them. If you want to live more luxuriously, how about splitting your earnings 50 - 50 with the one in need. Surely we can survive on half a million dollars a year?
When we sit down and begin to plan for peace with our fellow IIFWP ambassadors all extolling living for others, are we talking to a guy who once gave a needy person 10 bucks, or with a person who makes a million dollars a year and has a room, food, shoes and a coat, along with 750 formerly hungry friends.
Do you see the problem of trying to build a unified organization on so vague a term? We could be in a room full of leaders all claiming to "live for the sake of others" and in fact have no real idea if we are working together or not? How should IIFWP solve this problem? Should we issue some chart of percentages? Would this clarify matters for establishing the qualifications of a peace ambassador?
And next we need to examine who to live for. Supposing you give half to your wife, and a quarter to your son? Can you then say "hey, I give away almost everything I make away." Does that count? Some people might think that's a little tricky. They might quietly think "hmmm, this fellow isn't really living for others, he just has a demanding wife and a lazy son." How will IIFWP solve that problem? Should we issue a list of people who qualify as people to "live for their sake"?
Obviously we cannot clarify our terms in this way. Such a project would be endless. On your chart of percentages you would have to create additional addenda to apply to whether the person is need is located in France or Paraguay. What if the person already has a coat but no shoes? Or, exactly how old are his shoes? What if his shoes are just plain ugly - don't go with his coat?
And who counts as the other? How about a half son, or a cousin? Once one goes down the road of legalism to create common meaning there is no return. You'll end up with lawyers instead of peace.
Life Without Boundaries
Let us quickly do something similar here to see if we have a common understanding this second, core concept? Just what is meant by living without boundaries? Surely life requires that we recognize boundaries. Is it legitimate for example to have a fence or some sort of demarcation around one?s property? Is it legitimate to differentiate between which sons and daughters are yours and which are mine? How about the boundary between those who believe Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, and those who do not? Is that a legitimate boundary?
It is easy to see here once again that presuming common meaning with this terms is also unreasonable.
Do we really want to start down so serious a road together assuming we share a common agenda and set of principles, without bothering to check of that is really the case? Aren't we inviting disappointment down the line, perhaps coming at a time when we can least afford to degenerate into discord, perhaps at a time just on the verge a a big breakthrough for peace.
We already recognize that legalistic attempts to nail down common understanding is a labor of Sisyphus. So, what to do?
The solution to this problem lies in creating common use of terms in non-legalistic ways.
The success of the IIFWP, and its power to extend so deeply and effectively into world affairs based on what seem like obvious observations, lies in the fact that its principles are far more profound, and systematic than first meets the eye. Life for the sake of others, is not a mere synonym for the vague catchphrase "unselfishness," and "life without boundaries" similarly is not a vague affirmation of "understanding," or "getting along." The way for IIFWP activists to truly act in accord requires that we grow in our understanding of the system and worldview on which they stand as essential and foundational.
Life Lived for the Sake of Others
We can gain greater clarity in our understanding of the term "living for the sake of others," when we approach all of reality as grounded in purpose. This can guide our sacrificial activity and remove the guesswork from making this into a legitimate principle on which to build a peace movement. The ground of purpose renders moot questions like how much to give, and to whom we should give. Our guideline is to give in the way which effects the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Two corollaries for this principle point to greater clarity for IIFWP's notion of living for the sake of others. These are:
A. Everything you do should help the greatest number of people possible, and
B. It impossible to leap over a smaller social unit, to try to help a larger one.
Note by this small example how these work:
1. If I sacrifice others for my own sake (to become richer, more powerful, or more famous), I actually subtract goodness out of the world.
2. If I convert all my accomplishments to serve only my own benefit, at least I have not subtracted good away from others, but the whole good I do adds up to benefiting a total of one person. A small life indeed!
3. If I sacrifice everything for the sake of my family, the good stemming from my efforts now expands to 5 or 7 people or more. Thus by living for the sake of just my own immediate family, I have multiplied my power of goodness by 7 times or more. An incredible leap in how much good I do in the world!
4. But supposing we want to do good for more than just 7 people? This is the tricky part. I cannot decide simply that I will devote my accomplishments for my neighborhood (say for example 400 families - almost 3000 people) without gaining the consent of my family. My family must agree that our shared benefits are now going to be given to others. I have to unify my family around the idea that it is better for our goodness to benefit 3000 people, than just seven people. This is what I mean we cannot skip over a social unit.
See how quickly we can move from the evil of subtracting good out of the world, to a single person benefiting thousands of people. Just two steps! But the most important matter to note is that we cannot simply skip a step. Do you think a wife will follow a husband who is unfaithful, or children will follow a parent who is selfish? It is not possible. The root, the trunk, the branches, and the leaves of living for the sake of others, must all be connected and working in harmony. If I can get the 3000 people in my neighborhood to sacrifice themselves for our state or our nation in must one more step, then my "living for others" multiplies to millions.
The inner meaning of IIFWP's "living for the sake of others," more accurately follows the dynamic of the smaller living for the sake of the larger. This is only the most rudimentary introduction to the first core IIFWP principle, "life for the sake of others." Hopefully we can see that we are describing a very precise dynamic, and not building an organization based on a vague synonym for unselfishness.
How much should one give? The answer is everything, but that is an essay or another time. To whom? To God, all people, and all of nature. This too should be further clarified over time.
Life Lived without Boundaries
Finally, let me briefly touch upon a similar, introductory exposition for "life without boundaries," again so as to help account for the vitality, and transforming power of the IIFWP as a peace movement:
As I already said, one cannot in a facile manner proclaim oneself committed to removing all boundaries, when simply navigating life surely requires the recognition of countless boundaries.
Obviously conflict results from hostility toward some one or some group outside our those who we are willing to embrace, care for, and support. We place a boundary between ourselves and others. Versions of this include racism, religious intolerance, nationalism, ideological conflict, and other forms of separatism and intolerance. Hardening these these boundaries plays a big role in the horrors of hatred, war, and oppression. As a result it is all but a tautology to make "living without boundaries" a core principle of a peace organization.
In this second case too, how can we understand IIFWP to be saying anything other than the patently obvious? Furthermore what principles guide decisions in a grey areas? Are people's religious beliefs of no consequence? Are people's cultural and national heritage of no consequence? What if others threaten these treasures and irreplaceable legacies? Is the answer a simplistic "live without boundaries."
The aspect of IIFWP thought which creates of this a workable, and applicable principle is the recognition of categories in the human experience which are so universal and such a compelling force for harmony that they transcend and harmonize all difference, regardless of how essential, or extreme the difference might be. The category must be so basic and so far reaching that even religious difference cannot put us apart. What could possible stand safely and convincingly as so universal and transcendent that it can make all boundaries dissolve in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation?
The IIFWP grounded in Dr. Moon's revelation and worldview is family. The universal experience of family reflecting true and eternal love is greater than every difference. Be ye black, white. or yellow, you are still a mother a father, a brother, sister, son or daughter. Be ye Christian, Muslim or Jew, the same is true. Rich poor, high low, urban or rural, rap music, or Brahms, the human experience at its most basic, God given base is absolutely one. Without this category, a worldview which explains it, and the fullness of life which derives from it, the call for life without boundaries is nothing more than a vague nicety.
As fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives do we want boundaries? Do you want boundaries between yourself and your daughter? Do you want boundaries between you and your husband? In the most basic human identity we want NO boundaries whatsoever, none!
I hope this brief, and introductory meditation on IIFWP core principles has been helpful. The important thing to recognize is that these categories are systematic and necessary. They are not vague niceties unrelated to the clear purpose and the unrivalled energy and effectiveness of this organization.