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S. Pino: Address to Summit 2022, Session VIIIa

Address to Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference,
Seoul, Korea, August 11-15, 2022


Family is the first to provide security to its members. From there we learn and feel it. From there security or insecurity is reflected even more widely in society. It is in the family where not only the peace-lovers and peacemakers are born and raised, but also the warmongers.  

A well-functioning family is closely related to the achievement of peace and increased well-being for every family and individual in the world.

Family remains a central topic, especially for researchers, legislators and educators. 

Using a sociologist’s lens, I have joined efforts with Mr. Gani Rroshi, secretary general of UPF-Albania, to publish a study on the family and its problems over the last two decades. The book, "The Families of the 21st Century and Universal Values," was published this year in Albanian and is expected to be published in English as well.

The book was written in the spring of 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, on which a whole chapter is dedicated. Everywhere in the world, this situation has raised existential problems for the family. Nevertheless, time is showing—based on data, interviews and studies all over the world—that despite the number of victims and social and health consequences that continue, the family has remained a shelter of safety and protection.

Although many social scientists suggest that this situation will bring about tremendous changes in familial relationships and social norms, such an outcome remains to be seen.

A primary impetus for this book was an attempt to answer the following: Is the family, as an institution, endangered and on the brink of extinction as a result of the countless complications and challenges it faces globally? What do scholars, philanthropists, politicians, spouses, parents and children have to say about this? What trends and developments do the data reveal? While addressing all of these issues is impossible, we have touched on the subjects we have deemed relevant and worthy of more extensive discussion, in order to give our reader a broader perspective on the family of today.

To compose this modest image of the family or, rather, the families of the first two decades of the 21st century, we have collected statistical data and analyses from Eurostat and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), among other sources. We have also used several sociological methods, including: personal observations; lectures written over a period of several years for students of undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Tirana; a variety of surveys; online interviews that were administered specifically for this paper to a small group of couples from intercultural and international families living in Albania and abroad; data collected over the years by the Family Federation for World Peace–Albania; and various opinion polls, life stories, studies and monographs.

The autobiography of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, “As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen,” and the memoir of Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, “Mother of Peace,” served as crucial references not only for the ideas and principles they shared concerning the family, but also for the concrete examples of their successful conjugal and family life.

Family is the most important institution among all other social institutions. It is essential and omnipresent for every human being. Its origin is deep, going back to the beginnings of human history and continuing unceasingly from one millennium to the next. Despite outward changes, it nevertheless remains the same at its core. And here it is again, in 2022, in this third millennium of our times. 

Families reflect major social changes. Through gradual development over thousands of years, the family as an institution has undergone significant changes. However, changes with the greatest impact on the family occurred during the 20th century. Evolutionary developments seem to have occurred in the past 22 years, without major changes occurring in society’s organization, especially as it relates to the family. This stands in contrast to the second half of the 20th century, particularly in what was known as “the 1968 era” and during the 1990s. The first saw important changes that would begin in the family realm, the second witnessed political transformation and attempts for democracy in almost half the globe.

What has changed rapidly during these two decades is the size of the world population. There are nearly 8 billion (7,794,798,739) inhabitants[1] globally, compared to 6.1 billion (6,143,493,823) at the beginning of this century. This unprecedented growth is being accompanied by deeper societal polarization on one side, and by unstoppable technological advancement on the other. 

Millions of families from every corner of the globe live in this diverse and controversial environment. Families are created, grow and branch out, then shrink and fade away—and the cycle continues.

The variety of families in today’s world—seen across continents, subcontinents or regions—makes it almost impossible for the establishment of a flawless typology. The variability of families from one corner of the world to the other, from one continent to the other, from one country to the other, as well as within a nation, is related to multiple factors, including: natural environment; respective social, political and economic environment; history; ethnic composition; religion; legislation; and family income. Therefore, it is right that sociologists of the 21st century are oriented not only toward family sociology, but also the sociology of families (Newman, Greverholz, 2002). There is no single model that can represent the whole diversity of family life. Nevertheless, regional, continental and world developments do lead us toward identifying common attributes that are highly visible among families.

The majority of humankind preserves a set of common expectations. For example, with official marriage comes the promise of intimate relations only between spouses (extramarital relations have been treated in a number of countries as a punishable offence); the supremacy of men over women (patriarchate), of parents over children, and of older generations over the younger; and the composition of family by many members, among others. Whatever the extent and complexity of the kinship relations and the respective rights and mutual obligations within it, a cohabiting nucleus—a couple and their children—was present anywhere, even when the group of members living and acting together was very large. The nuclear family became the standard model of Western society in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Western family experienced serious transformation from the beginning of the 1960s through the 1970s and 1980s. As a result, in the United States, Canada and Western Europe, the extended family has been nearly wiped out. The traditional family of two parents is less widespread than before, though it does prevail on a global scale. Divorce, remarriages, single parenting—mainly by mothers—and alternative marriages have also changed the landscape. With increased global migration, mixed families of different cultures and values have increased as well. Seventy percent of women are in the job market, more is spent on children and their education, and the elderly live longer, though increasingly more alone.

The Central and Eastern families, including those from the Balkans, despite their differences, underwent significant changes from 1990 to 2000, which has been known as a political transition period. The post-communist world, especially in the Western Balkans, continues the remodeling process, although not all countries in it are experiencing the process at the same pace. However, demographic indicators show similar trends in the areas of marriage, divorce, family size and fertility.

In developing countries, traditional family systems are changing more slowly. The transformation rate is dependent on material and technological development. The transition to the nuclear family—in other words, the family of two generations made up of parents and children—is a continuing process. Changes in Asia have had a particular influence on the world due to the fact that it is home to more than 60% of the global population.

What is the family of the 21st century? Classical indicators lead us to the description of today’s families seen from outside. The internal dynamics of family life are even more diverse. They are influenced by both material factors and spiritual ones, and they are linked to a society’s and community’s culture as well as to the microcosm of each individual. There are some external factors which directly influence family structure and organization. Among them, the most important are demographic changes, scientific and technological progress, and the role and level of government intervention. Families submit to one or several factors depending on cultural aspects, society’s development level, where the family lives, and the social category to which they belong. The economy is intertwined with all these factors, and its pace influences the rapid change of daily life.

The increase in divorce rates, family downsizing, and the growth of single-parent families continues to be a general trend, especially in the West. However, in some studies there are signs of changes of these trends, including changes in the number of divorces, the marriage-cohabitation ratio and fertility rates. Although the changes on the other side are limited to a few countries and have just begun, there are sociologists who anticipate that with the composition of certain conditions, today’s prevailing tendencies might be reversed in the coming decades (Esping-Andersen, 2011, 2018; Wilcox, 2020).

The changes in family systems are not only related to material conditions and the above-mentioned factors, though they are significant contributions. Changes are equally related to cultural values and their evolution. Along with the development of the market economy, new values inclined to materialism, efficiency and individualism have appeared, based on the conviction that people can change the context of values versus traditional ones, and fatalist beliefs, hindering mentalities on individual development and well-being. In today’s conditions of globalization and interdependence, the cultural values of societies, particularly the family traditions, are under pressure from ideologies that have expanded and been increasingly acknowledged in recent decades. First is the idea that economic and technological advancement brings more prosperity, which in turn has led to its taking precedence over the preservation of old traditions and habits of family life. Second is the ideology of individualism, which has much proliferated in Western cultures with established democracies, but has nonetheless been equally criticized. Its main idea is that personal wellbeing—material and spiritual—self-fulfillment and self-realization are life priorities. Third and most recent, according to its manifestation and geographic spread, is the ideology of equality that originated in early medieval times—namely, that women have equal rights as men. Today, this viewpoint has been transformed into a complexity of theories, values, beliefs, legal norms, movements and practices that have brought fundamental changes in family relations and other social institutions in the West and beyond.

Anytime there is a space for new schools of thought that promote social justice, world and family harmony, they are settled and followed by more and more people. Such is Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Thought, which explores life’s goal and the meaning of happiness. Specifically, how should the individual relate with the social group, in our case with the family, to ensure not its damage, but its functionality? How do we attain happiness? What spiritual values should guide us so that we can feel happy? What should be our priorities and goals in life?

There are three common goals that are fundamental to all people around the world. First, we want to become mature individuals by pursuing truth, goodness and beauty. This forms the foundation of our character and reveals the depth of our life. Second, we want to love others. Our central task in mastering the art of loving is to build a family. Loving relationships with others define the breadth of our life. Third, we want to make a contribution to society through creativity and mastery of our environment. This legacy determines the height of our life[2]. The Universal Peace Federation (UPF)—which upholds values and principles such as living for the sake of others and promoting humanity as one family under God beyond any social or biological barrier—is guided by this family ideology.

Can we define the family today? Social scientists still argue about the definition of family, despite it being the oldest social institution we know. This is because family diversity has increased, typologies are different and several alternatives to the traditional family exist. These depend on factors related not only to historical conditions and progress, but also to the increasing level of freedom of personal choice and life arrangements that individuals make today.

When studying the nature of society, none of the concepts we use can be defined as precisely as those in the natural sciences. This is not because of the inability of social scientists, but because of the reality of what is being researched. Therefore, debates and arguments are unending.

Any definition is somewhat arbitrary, in the sense that time and incessant development of human society continually give words new meaning. Every concept is modified. The same has happened to the concept of “family.” More than 50 years ago, the cultural standard for establishing a family was marriage. Nowadays it is also cohabitation. Even cohabitation itself has gone through changes since the 1970s, when it began to rapidly spread in Western societies. Today, this practice has expanded geographically, going beyond the West. Its arrangement, duration, and relation to marriage have changed. The pace has decreased even in places where it appeared for the first time as a new phenomenon.

Today, there is a tendency to seek balance between spouse’s rights as well as between parents and children’s rights. For example, there are legal provisions and international conventions guided by the principle of a child’s best interest. More and more women are looking for jobs outside of the home, not only as an emancipation requirement, but also to increase the family’s income in a market economy that can be unfriendly to the family.

A more widespread definition in the 21st century describes the family as a group made of two or more people that live together, take care of each other and of their children, act together and have a close emotional connection.

But there is also another “definition” of the family that is widely referenced and accepted in today’s culture. We often hear the phrase “we are a family” in the media, on advertisements, from different social groups like sports teams, performance groups, groups of friends or neighbors, schoolchildren or university students, and the military. Politicians often consider their followers a family as well. This is one of the most used terms, especially during electoral campaigns, where unity is needed for a common goal.

The thousands of available examples of the use of the term “family,” in a variety of extra-familial situations, indicate commonalities among these uses. In the above cases, family does not refer to blood, kinship or legal relations that make it a social institution. But, they are referred to as the family because that’s how much they are enrooted in what a family carries in its essence: interaction among its members marked by love, commitment, sacrifice and mutual responsibility.

The founders of UPF, Rev. and Dr. Moon consider the family as the school of love, based on its essence as well as on its ideals. It is a cultural definition, which synthetically expresses the human conceptualization of this small holding cell of society.

Love, care, emotional support, understanding, gratitude, education and responsibilities are essential components to keeping a family intact and ensuring it’s well-functioning. These are values the family has carried from one generation to the other, from one culture to the other. Otherwise, it would not have survived.

Surely, opinions are transitional depending on occurring changes, but a whole group of opinions that affirm the same thing, from Europe to America, indicates a trend.

Why are there so many negative phenomena challenging this take on family values? Data on divorce, conflicts and violence within the family, difficult marriages, and child and/or parental abandonment, among other challenges, indicate a dark side in the dynamics of life within the family. Does the existence of these phenomena question the future of the family?

The analyses of statistical trends from scholars are some of the most important aspects of today’s research into understanding where the family is heading. One thing is clear so far. Society can and will advance with the family. History has seen that while the meaning of the modern family has fluctuated, it has preserved an unchanging substance; it is the institution where the precondition of society’s existence is fulfilled—the birth of children and their socialization. Society cannot destroy the premise upon which it itself is based. Humanity will always look for solutions towards a more harmonious family life for the benefit of all of its members and society.

Chapters four and five of our book, prepared by Mr. Rroshi, are focused both on the teachings of Rev. Moon and Dr. Moon, and on their contribution in strengthening the institution of the family. It is highlighted that:

“The family is a microcosm of universal love that extends from the intimacy of two people to embrace the entire cosmos. We must understand the dynamics of a well-functioning family that is truly a ‘school of love.’ Almost the entirety of human life is lived in the context of a family.”[3]


“Since love is so difficult to master, God provided a school where people can learn how to love. And the family is this school of love. The relationships in our family teach us how to love.”[4]

In the typical course of life, a child grows up in the care of its parents, lives among siblings and peers, gets married, and becomes a parent and grandparent. These are the basic stages we pass through in life. Each successive role is added like a mantle to the previous ones. Each one opens a new realm of our heart. Human beings naturally express love in four directions: to their parents, siblings, spouse and children. According to the core teaching of Rev. and Dr. Moon on the family, these comprise the four realms of heart, or four spheres of love: children’s love, siblings’ love, conjugal love and parental love. All other forms of human love derive from these four types of love, and each of them has its own distinctive qualities and purposes.

It is important to understand that each realm includes those below it. A child might develop a strong bond of heart with his or her brothers and sisters, but he or she still remains a child to the parents. In other words, the realm of siblings’ love includes children’s love. Likewise, the realm of conjugal love includes siblings’ love and children’s love, and the realm of parental love includes conjugal love, siblings’ love and children’s love. A father is also a husband, a brother and a child to his aged parents. Thus, love is cumulative in the journey through the four realms of heart.

The principles of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values are also linked to family and peace.

In 1991, Rev. Moon expressed his prophetic vision for the new millennium and his firm hope and conviction that a peaceful revolution, or a revolution of heart as he often called it, will lead humanity to world peace:

The twenty-first century shall be a century of righteousness. It will be a century of spirit and soul, when wealth will not be the dominating factor. It will be a century when God and human beings live together as one. A new awareness will come to every person—that living for the sake of others has eternal value, far greater than living for oneself. In the 21st  century, selfishness will decline. The altruistic values of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values will be triumphant.[5]

The principle of interdependence refers to establishing an ideal economic system that will end poverty and hunger in the world and guarantee the same level or quality of life for all humanity as a single global family.

The principle of mutual prosperity deals with the need to reform democracy in order to constitute an ideal political system based on the model of the family, in which the original democratic ideals of freedom, equality and human fraternity are truly realized.

The principle of universal values proposes a society and an ideal world in which people share and respect universal ethical principles that guarantee peace and harmony between religions and cultures.

According to Rev. Moon, the ideal society will be a society not only of interdependence and mutual prosperity, but also of joint ethics where all people—regardless of their positions, religious background, culture, race or nationality—will live with the same ethical attitudes.

As Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon said in a message to world leaders:

“True world peace has never been accomplished on this earth, and yet this has been the one constant dream of all humanity throughout history. In order for this dream to be realized, a peaceful nation and society must be realized first. A peaceful nation and society can only grow out of the premise of a peaceful home. In this light, a peaceful and ideal home is the very starting point and the basic unit for a peaceful world.”[6]

A society of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values is not merely an instructive, ideal society, but rather the society in which people will lead a life of true love. In that society, all people will live with the same values; therefore, religious doctrines centered on faith will be transformed into, and consummated as, living ethics centered on practice. This aspect of the future society is called the society of joint ethics, namely, the society of universal values.  

The family is the workshop-through-exemplification for education in the love of humanity. It is the representative environment for establishing the center of heart. The family is the horizontal foundation of the abridged form of the world since the nation and the world start from a family. The family is the unchanging origin and the pivotal point. If a family is established on a firm pivotal point in relation to which any revolutionary change is impossible, the family will not be absorbed by any kind of ideology or “ism.” Rather, it will surpass any ideology or “ism” and influence them instead. If a family is established on such a foundation, it will never change and will sustain the form of a nation. A family is a small nation, world and cosmos in the soil of society. Man is to resemble God; the society centering upon man resembles man centering upon God.



[2] Universal Principles and Life Goals. p. 4. International Educational Foundation. USA, 2001. 

[3] Pak, J. H. & Wilson, A., p. XVIII.

[4] Pak, J. H. & Wilson, A., p. 98.

[5] Sun Myung Moon, Speech Collection Books, Seoul, HSA-UWC, 219:120, (August 28, 1991).

[6]True Mother Hak Ja Han Moon: An Anthology 2. p. 162.



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