Book Review: A Lifetime in Pursuit of Peace
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of The Washington Times, celebrated his 90th birthday this year. The year also marks the release of his autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, published by The Washington Times Foundation. A best-seller in his native Korea, the book, now translated into English, gives Western readers an opportunity to learn more about a man whose deeds and goals have been the subject of international attention for decades.
In the book's foreword, the Rev. Moon writes about his wish to "bring about a world of peace" but adds that his pursuit of that goal over a long life has not been without setbacks. He writes, "I am a controversial person. ...The world ... has associated many different phrases with my name, rejected me and thrown stones at me."
He adds: "I have been unjustly imprisoned six times in my life - by imperial Japan, in Kim Il Sung's North Korea, by South Korea's Syngman Rhee government, and even in the United States - and at times I was beaten so hard that the flesh was torn from my body. Today, though, not even the slightest wound remains in my heart."
Nevertheless, he notes, "Recently, a growing number of people have been seeking to know more about me. For the sake of those who are curious, I have looked back on my life and recorded my candid recollections in this volume."
Divided into eight chapters, the book recounts details of the Rev. Moon's childhood and education; his calling to religion (which included crossing the 38th Parallel, starting a church and surviving Heungnam Prison); his life and the growth of the church in the shadow of the Korean War; the foundations of his global outreach; his marriage to Hak Ja Han Moon and the importance of family in life; and his aspirations for a unified Korea. In the final two chapters, he looks ahead to the future and delivers a message expressly crafted for young people.
Faith, family, freedom and service are the pillars of the Rev. Moon's worldview and work. Through this canvas of often dramatic incidents and his personal observations, this reader came away with a better understanding of the Rev. Moon and his ongoing efforts on behalf of world peace, including the creation of enterprises such as New Hope Farms in Brazil, established to help eradicate hunger.
The Rev. Moon's commitment to nature conservancy and the world's water supply are given ample and interesting attention. His discussion of the possibilities for an International Peace Highway linking Korea and Japan through an underground tunnel and a restructuring of the United Nations undoubtedly will lead to fruitful debate and work in the years to come.
But it is the Rev. Moon's candor when addressing the most difficult times of his life that one remembers, notably his imprisonment in the federal correctional institution in Danbury, Conn., on July 20, 1984, and the events leading up to it.
There is much interesting information throughout the book, and it is difficult to select which anecdotes and observations to include. However, many of the most vivid images that remain with the reader come from the Rev. Moon's descriptions of his childhood in the opening chapters of the book:
"I would often fall asleep in the hills after playing there. My father would be forced to come find me. When I heard my father shouting in the distance, 'Yong Myung! Yong Myung!' I couldn't help but smile, even as I slept. My name as a child was Yong Myung. The sound of his voice would awaken me, but I would pretend to still be asleep. He would hoist me onto his back and carry me home. That feeling I had as he carried me down the hill - feeling completely secure and able to let my heart be completely at ease - that was peace. That is how I learned about peace, while being carried on my father's back."
In a book that is notable for its imagery and poetry, this remains.
Carol Herman is books editor at The Washington Times.
To order As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, click here.