As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: Episode 59

As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: An Autobiography by Rev. Sun Myung Moon
Chapter 7: Future of Korea, Future of the World
Cultural Projects Express God's Creativity, pg 214-218

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Cultural Projects Express God’s Creativity

In 1988, Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics. I saw this as a potential festival of peace in my own backyard and had many of our members from around the world come to Seoul for the event. The members helped guide the international athletes and officials, cheered the athletes, served them food, and presented them with mementos of their visit to Korea.

Since China and the Soviet Union were both participants in the Games, I saw it as an event that could critically alter the Cold War era. Seeing the Olympic Games as a festival of peace gave it the potential to create harmony between the communist bloc and the free world. On the day of the opening ceremony, I sat in the general seating area of Jamsil Main Stadium and watched with great joy.

After the Olympics, I carried on the energy of the Games by founding the Ilhwa Chunma professional soccer team in Korea. The Ilhwa team has won several championships and built up a strong fan base. We have since founded the soccer teams Clube Atlético Sorocaba and Centro Esportivo Nova Esperança (CENE) in Brazil, the home of samba football, and continue to operate them today.

The reason I chose to create soccer teams is that I enjoy the sport. I have enjoyed sports since I was young, and for a time, I did some boxing and some traditional martial arts. Soccer, however, is the one sport that I continue to enjoy into my old age. In my school days, I used to run around the schoolyard diligently kicking the ball, but now I enjoy watching it. When the World Cup was held in Seoul, I had three television sets set up side by side so that I could watch all the games. I never missed a game that Korea played.

Soccer is a microcosm of life. No matter how well I might dribble the ball down the field, if someone from the opposing team who is faster and more skilled comes along and steals the ball away from me, then in an instant, everything I did until then is for nothing. Also, even if I dribble all the way down the field and take a shot at the goal, if the ball hits the goalpost and bounces back, that’s the end. It’s up to me to dribble the ball, but it takes more than one person to get the ball into the goal. I need a teammate like Ji Sung Park, who will assist me at the critical moment, or someone like Young Pyo Lee, who will adroitly draw the other team away from me.

The most important person on the team is the coach, who watches over the entire team from the sidelines. The coach doesn’t run or score goals, but his power is greater than that of all the players put together. Similar to a coach who sees things that the players cannot see and gives signals, God sees things that we cannot see and gives us signs. If the players follow the coach’s signs well, they will almost always win. But if the coach sends signs and foolish players either don’t understand them or ignore them and play according to their own thinking, the team can only lose.

Soccer is a sport where competition takes place and someone wins or loses, but it also has the potential for significantly influencing countries and increasing their cooperation toward peace. I was told that twice as many people watched the World Cup as watched the Olympics. This provides an idea of how many people around the world love soccer. Therefore, just like the Olympics, it has the power to become a force for harmony between countries, races, religions, and cultures. I see soccer and peace among countries as potentially powerful partners.

Pelé, who was appointed as Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister for Sport in 1995, once visited Korea and spent time in the Hannam-Dong neighborhood of Seoul. People remember him as the greatest soccer player in the world, but the Pelé I met was a peace activist. He wanted to bring world peace through soccer.

When I met him, he laughed as he told me the story of a game in Africa. He said, “I once played in Nigeria, but the country was at war then. How do you think we were able to play in a place where bombs were exploding all around? Thankfully, there was a short ceasefire called so that the game could be played. That’s when I realized deeply that football (meaning soccer) was more than just a sport. Football is a means shared by all people in the world for creating world peace. After that, I decided that I had to carry out a movement for world peace through football.”

I was so impressed with Pelé in that moment that I firmly grasped his hand.

We live in a competitive society where there is a great deal of stress. Stress creates tension in our lives and takes away our peace of mind. When stress accumulates, people can become irritated and sometimes fight each other. Sports and the arts are examples of things that help us to lower our levels of stress. These things help us to vent our pent-up urges and bring humanity together. The reason for my devotion to soccer teams, symphony orchestras, and ballet companies is that these activities are means to bring world peace.

Pelé understands this kind of thinking. Finding ourselves in agreement, Pelé and I created a new competition of international dimensions called the Peace Cup, and tournaments have been held every two years since 2003. We brought famous soccer teams from around the world to Korea. A corresponding women’s tournament called the Peace Queen Cup is held in alternate years.

In the summer of 2009, we held the first men’s tournament outside Korea. The 2009 competition was held in Spain’s Andalusia region. All profits from the tournaments are used to support soccer events for children and youth in developing countries. In particular, we use soccer to help children with physical disabilities keep their dreams alive.

Working with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.N. refugee agency, we held a soccer tournament for young people in Liberia. This is a country where fifteen years of tribal warfare have left its people exhausted. It receives special protection from the United Nations because of its precipitous drop in population. The children of this war-torn country gathered together to play soccer and sing songs of peace. In the process of kicking the ball around, they were learning skills of teamwork and fair play that are necessary for bringing harmony between tribes.

The Peace Cup organization also has a goal of building a peace stadium in the Israel-Palestine-Jordan region, as close as possible to the Israel-Palestine border. The stadium would be freely available to all as a peace-building venture. We want to bring famous coaches from Europe and start a soccer academy for the children in the region. The adults may want to point guns at each other, but the children will want to come to the soccer stadium and kick the ball around. People say it is unrealistic and shake their heads, but we will do this.

Already a member of the Israeli cabinet has said the stadium should be built in the Israeli area, and a member of the Palestinian cabinet says it should be in the Palestinian area. I am determined, however, to build it in a way that connects the two sides. I am not one to be pressured into giving up my dreams. I have a bull-headed strength of will that I use to pursue dreams that will lead to a world of peace.

The creation of our ballet company is another example of the same strength of will. People said it couldn’t be done. We established the Universal Ballet in 1984. Today more people in Korea are enjoying ballet than ever before. When we first created our ballet company, Korea was like a barren wasteland as far as ballet was concerned. Korea now even has its own world-renowned ballerinas.

Every time I watch ballet, I feel that this must be what art in the Heavenly Kingdom is like. When a ballerina stands on her toes and holds her head toward the heavens, this stance strikes me as a perfect pose for the way we should hold God in awe. It has the look of ardent desire. In ballet, human beings can use the beautiful body given to them by God to express their love for Him. It is the highest form of art.

The Universal Ballet began by performing Swan Lake and the Nutcracker Suite. It has added Don Quixote, Giselle, and its own original creations Shim Chung and The Love of Choonhyang. It has developed to the point of being internationally acclaimed. The Universal Ballet receives invitations from the world’s most famous venues. Its dancers are credited with adding a uniquely Korean beauty to the energetic moves of Western ballet. They are praised for the way they harmonize Eastern and Western styles in their performances. The Universal Ballet has an academy in Washington, D.C. I also created the New York City Symphony Orchestra and the New Hope Singers.

The arts enable humankind to reflect the high ideals embodied in God’s own creative work. God poured His entire heart into human beings and the world He created, just as an artist invests their entire being into their works. The Book of Genesis makes it seem as though things came into being simply by God speaking a word, but that is absolutely not how it was. God invested all His energy into creating the waters and the land.

In the same way, the movements of the ballerinas onstage are fruits of a creative process that requires total investment. The same thing can be said about soccer. A successful soccer team will invest its full energies into a ninety-minute game. In making a single run for the goal, a player will invest every bit of energy he can summon, as if his life depended on it. This is similar to what God went through as He created the world.

To pour out everything we have, to offer ourselves up completely for the sake of one moment in time—this is how greatness is achieved and how humankind comes to resemble God.


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