As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: Episode 32

As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: An Autobiography by Rev. Sun Myung Moon
Chapter 4: Launching Our Global Mission
Angels Open a Path through a Dark Forest, pg 114-116

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Angels Open a Path through a Dark Forest

There are two things we must leave our descendants when we die. One is tradition, and the other is education. A people without tradition will fail. Tradition is the soul that allows a people to continue; a people without a soul cannot survive. The second thing of importance is education. A people will also fail if it does not educate its descendants. Education gives us the power to live with new knowledge and objectives. Through education, people acquire wisdom for living. Anyone who cannot read will be ignorant, but once educated, a person will know how to use his wisdom in the world to manage his own life.

Education helps us understand the principles by which the world operates. To open up a new future, we need, on the one hand, to pass on to our descendants the tradition that has been handed down to us over thousands of years and, on the other, to also supply them with education concerning new things. When tradition and new knowledge are appropriately integrated in our lives, they give birth to an original culture. Tradition and education are both important, and it is impossible to say which takes priority over the other. The wisdom to integrate the two also comes to us through education.

At the same time that I founded the dance troupe, I also founded the Little Angels School of the Arts (later renamed Sunhwa Arts School). The purpose in founding this school was to spread our ideals to the world through the arts. The issue of whether we had the ability to manage a school was of secondary importance. I first put my plan into action. If the purpose is clear and good, then it should be put into action quickly. I wanted to educate children to love heaven, love their country, and love humanity.

I wrote my motto for the school as a piece of calligraphy that said in Chinese characters, “Love Heaven, Love Humanity, Love Country.” Someone asked me then, “Why do you put ‘Love Country’ at the end, when you say your purpose is to show Korea’s unique culture to the world?”

I answered him, saying, “If a person loves heaven and loves humanity, he has already loved his country. Loving the country has already been accomplished in the process.”

If a Korean can cause the world to respect him, then he has already accomplished the purpose of letting the world know about Korea. The Little Angels went to many countries and demonstrated the excellence of Korean culture, but they never made any nationalistic claims about their country. The image of Korea as a country of great culture and tradition was planted deep in the minds of the people who saw their performances and gave them their applause. In that sense, the Little Angels did more than anyone to publicize Korea to the world and practice love for their country. It gives me great satisfaction every time I see the performances by Su Mi Jo and Young Ok Shin, graduates of Sunhwa Arts School who have gone on to become world-renowned vocalists, and by Julia Moon and Sue Jin Kang, who are among the best ballerinas in the world.

Since 1965, when they held their first overseas performance in the United States, the Little Angels have been introducing Korea’s beautiful tradition all over the world. They were invited by the British royal family to perform in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II. They were invited to take part in the bicentennial celebration in the United States, where they performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. They gave a special performance for U.S. President Richard Nixon, and they took part in the cultural and performing arts festival that was part of the Seoul Olympic Games. The Little Angels are known around the world as cultural ambassadors for peace.

The following is something that happened in 1990 when I visited Moscow. The Little Angels gave a performance on the night before I was to leave the Soviet Union, after having met President Mikhail Gorbachev. Korea’s little girls stood in the center of Moscow, the center of communism. After performing Korean dances dressed in their hanboks, the Little Angels sang Russian folk songs with their beautiful voices. Shouts of “Encore!” from the audience made it impossible for them to leave the stage. In the end, they completely exhausted their repertoire of songs.

First Lady Raisa Gorbachev was seated in the audience. South Korea and the Soviet Union had not yet established diplomatic relations, and it was very unusual for the first lady to attend a cultural performance from such a country. However, Mrs. Gorbachev sat in the front row and applauded enthusiastically throughout the program. After the performance, she came backstage and handed the troupe flowers. She repeatedly praised the greatness of Korean culture, saying, “The Little Angels are truly angels of peace. I did not know that South Korea had such beautiful traditional culture. During the entire performance, it was as if I were dreaming a dream about my own childhood.” Mrs. Gorbachev embraced each member of the troupe and kissed them on the cheek, saying, “My Little Angels!”

In 1998, the Little Angels visited Pyongyang as the first purely private, nongovernmental cultural exchange program and gave three performances there. They danced the cute “Little Groom Dance” and the colorful “Fan Dance.” The eyes of the North Koreans watching the performance were filled with tears. The image of a woman sobbing uncontrollably was captured in the lens of a newspaper photographer. Yong Soon Kim, chairman of North Korea’s Asia-Pacific Peace Commission, praised the Little Angels after their performance, saying, “They've opened a narrow path through the dark forest.”

That was exactly what the Little Angels had done. They demonstrated for the first time that Koreans from North and South, who had turned their backs on each other for such a long time, were capable of coming together in one place and watching each other’s performances. People often think that politics moves the world, but that is not the case. It is culture and art that move the world. It is emotion, not reason, that strikes people in the innermost part of their hearts. When hearts change and are able to receive new things, ideologies and social regimes change as a result. The Little Angels did more than just advertise our traditional culture to the world. They created narrow paths between worlds completely different from each other.

Each time I meet the Little Angels, I tell them, “You must have beautiful hearts to perform beautiful dances. You must have beautiful hearts to have beautiful faces.” True beauty is a beauty that wells up from within us. The Little Angels have been able to move the hearts of people throughout the world because the beauty of Korea’s tradition and spiritual culture is imbued in their dances. So the applause for the Little Angels is actually applause for Korea’s traditional culture.

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