From Dependence and Independence towards Interdependence: An Analysis of Cultural Trends in the Family and in the World*

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 1, 1997 - Pages 93-108

In this paper, we will discuss certain cultural trends by examining paradigm changes of the way relationships are conceived in the family and in the world. We will attempt not only to describe these cultural trends but also to prescribe the desirable changes in culture. Scholars have discussed “culture” from a number of different perspectives.[1] In this paper, it would not be wrong to say that, by culture we generally mean “shared values.” In other words, its meaning is not so different from a common-sense use of the term.

Looking from the perspective of Unification Thought, we affirm with an increasingly large consensus of scholars in that the family is the most important place for inheriting and creating a culture of shared values. Therefore, in the first section of this paper, we will discuss cultural trends in families by focusing on the relationship between husband and wife. We will illuminate the paradigm shifts in the relationship between men and women, in large part, through examining the rise and transformation of the feminist movement in the United States. On that basis, we will present as the general flow of the paradigm shifts in the relationship between men and women as from dependence to independence to interdependence.

In the second section, we will further elaborate the meaning and implications of interdependent relations, utilizing a story by Sundar Singh and discussing the Unification Thought teaching about conjugal love. We will point out a gradual rise of such interdependent relations in various fields throughout the world, especially in the 1990s.

In the third section, we will briefly discuss the question of what has caused the paradigm shift from independence towards interdependence in the 1990s and argue that the demise of Marxism has played the most decisive role in facilitating the rise of this new paradigm. In the conclusion, in addition to summarizing our observations, we will offer some additional comments on what kind of culture we should encourage and on how we can facilitate its dawning. I hope this paper will be of help in creating and facilitating a new culture fit for the emerging age of the global village.

* This paper was first presented at the Ninth International Symposium on Unification Thought, March 20-22, 1997, Sun Moon University, Asan, South Korea. The first half of this paper is based on, "What Is the True Liberation of Women?" an address delivered at the First Inter­na­tional Symposium sponsored by the Women’s Federation for World Peace of Japan, 19 November 1994, Tokyo, Japan.


1. Paradigm Shifts in Male-Female Relations: The Rise and Transformation of the Feminist Movement in the United States

Needless to say, a family is the most important locus for inheriting cultures and shared values. Sociologists usually explain the process of inheriting values by the term “socialization.” We can regard socialization as a process of the internalization of values; therefore, we can generally state that culture is transmitted through socialization. In discussing socialization, many sociologists refer to socialization in a family as “the primary socialization” and emphasize its importance in comparison to “secondary socialization” through schools, friends, mass media, and other agents of socialization in the larger community.

In focusing on the paradigm shifts in the relationship between man and woman, we will discuss cultural trends of families in the United States. We will attempt to illuminate the shifts in the male-female relationship in large part through examining the rise and transformation of the feminist movement in the United States during the last forty years or so. We will focus on trends in the United States, partly because it is the most influential nation in the world in terms of culture, and partly because I continuously lived in America and observed American life for over two decades from 1973 until 1994.[2]

In general, if we view the paradigm shifts in male-female relations in the United States from a perspective of women, we can call the first paradigm shift from dependence to independence and the second paradigm shift from independence to interdependence. On the other hand, if we summarize these changes from the perspective of men, we may well call the first paradigm shift from domination to alienation and the second paradigm shift from alienation to interdependence. I selected the women’s perspective, “from dependence and independence towards interdependence,” for the title of this paper because the terms are meaningful and because of the paper’s focus on the feminist literature.

Now let me elaborate these paradigm shifts in husband-wife relations. It is clear that women were dominated by men for thousands of years. Women were generally viewed as somewhat defective and inferior to men; Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas’s description of women as “misbegotten males” is notorious among feminists and indicative of this view.[3] Wives were treated as if they were the husbands’ property throughout most of human history, not only in the Old Testament but also in many societies’ civil laws. Furthermore, there have been many societies whose laws legitimated polygyny, a man’s having multiple wives. In short, throughout history women were generally dependent on men.

Consequently, many feminists describe the typical pattern of the husband-wife relations in the United States in the 1950s as the wife’s dependence upon her husband. In particular, wives were not financially free. Lacking special skills and education, few women had their own careers.[4] In many cases, women could not borrow money from banks without a man’s (i.e., their husband’s or father’s) permission, even if they wanted to start a small business of their own. As a result, many wives financially dependent on their husbands in the 1950s.

The latter part of the 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of the radical feminist movement in the United States. As the rise of the nineteenth century American feminist movement was closely related with the antislavery movement, so the rise of the 1960s’ feminist movement was considerably inspired by the success of the civil-rights movement, which struggled to eliminate the racial injustice and discrimination. The leaders of the feminist movement expanded the interpretation of the civil rights and struggled to eliminate what they regarded as the sexual injustice and discrimination. They attempted to abolish “sexism” in a very similar way as the civil-rights movement struggled to abolish racism. As the idea of the innate racial differences (e.g., the innate inferiority of the black race) was severely criticized in the civil-rights movement, so too was the idea of the innate sexual differences (e.g., the innate inferiority of the females) severely criticized in the feminist movement, especially in the 1960s.

Many leaders of the feminist movement in those years promoted equal opportunities between men and women; they spoke up criticizing the discrimination against women in education, employment, job promotions and so forth. By emphasizing the innate equality between men and women, feminist leaders in the 1960s and 1970s attempted to bring about external equality—or equality of results—by eliminating the discrimination against women in society. In other words, they emphasized the exact sameness between males and females and de-emphasized the difference, which the Unification Thought perspective regards as complementarity, between them. Consequently, outstanding leaders of the feminist movement who spoke up for women with a strident voice in the 1960s and 1970s promoted women’s striving for independence and self-realization and without any sense of appreciation for men.[5] In many cases, they regarded men as women’s enemy and the obstacle to their own self-realization, who stood blocking the gate of the equal opportunity for women.

We may well describe the main goal of the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s as the strong independent woman or the self-realized woman. As a result of the feminist movement in those years, more women gained opportunities to study at distinguished colleges, to work for big business corporations in leadership roles, and to earn as much money as men.

Were American women enjoying the fruits of feminism in the 1980s happier than women in the 1950s? It is difficult to compare the subjective feelings of people from two different generations. It turned out, however, that many American feminist women were not really happy, even though the social environment gave them equal opportunities to work just like men, to earn as much money as men, and to wield power just like men. Women could not become happy by becoming just like men and behaving just like men—without their own men (i.e., husbands) and family (i.e., children). This was the honest assessment by none other than Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, the founder and the first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the so-called mother of the modern feminist movement. Although in the 1960s, she had championed the goal of the self-realization of women totally independent of men, Friedan presented the above sober assessment as in her book The Second Stage.[6] She came to have second thoughts about the goals of the feminist movement.

Friedan in The Second Stage advocated a new feminist movement that should transcend the radical feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. She referred to the new challenge that the feminist movement must undertake after winning the equal opportunities in many fields as the “second stage” of the movement. She proclaimed the important characteristics of the second stage as follows:

The second stage cannot be seen in terms of women alone, our separate personhood or equality with men.

The second stage involves coming to new terms with the family--new terms with love and with work.

The second stage may not even be a women’s movement. Men may be at the cutting edge of the second stage.

The second stage has to transcend the battle for equal power in institutions. The second stage will restructure institutions and transform the nature of power itself.

The second stage may even now be evolving, out of or even aside from what we have thought of as our battle.[7]

After the Friedan’s bold reassessment of the feminist movement’s goals, similar critiques of the feminist movement appeared one after another in the 1980s and gained increasing popularity among contemporary American women. Connel Cowan and Melvyn Kinder in their book Smart Women/Foolish Choices blamed the radical feminist movement for the current women’s malaise, because in their view “it created a myth among women that the apex of self-realization could be achieved only through autonomy, independence and career.”[8] Soon there appeared a flood of critiques of radical feminism in the American mass media as documented by Susan Faludi in Backlash. Here, for example, is her summary of the confessional account of Megan Marshall, a “recovering Superwoman”:

In The Cost of Loving: Women and the New Fear of Intimacy, Megan Marshall, a Harvard-pedigreed writer, asserts that the feminist “Myth of Independence” has turned her generation into unloved and unhappy fast trackers, “dehumanized” by careers and “uncertain of their gender identity.”[9]


Faludi went on to summarize the backlash against the radical feminism as follows:

Other diaries of mad Superwomen charge that “the hard-core feminist viewpoint,” as one of them puts it, has relegated educated executive achievers to solitary nights of frozen dinners and closet drinking. The triumph of equality, they report, has merely given women hives, stomach cramps, eye-twitching disorders, even comas.[10]

Although Faludi apparently disliked and criticized the anti-feminists’ claim that “they can chart a path from rising female independence to rising female pathology,” it is noteworthy that Friedan in large part agreed with such a claim. The fact that unmarried single men over thirty who may well be described as independent men have more severe psychological and social problems than do independent women does not nullify the anti-feminists’ description of the distress of the independent women who remain single into their thirties and beyond.

Carol Gilligan’s book In a Different Voice also contributed significantly to debunking the cause of the radical feminists who struggled for equality of opportunity and results for women on the postulate that men and women have equal innate ability.[11] These radical feminists of the ‘60s and ‘70s are sometimes referred to as “equal opportunity feminists” by the new generation of feminists who are sometimes called “relational feminists.” Pointing out the differences between men and women in terms of their moral reasoning and behavior, Gilligan illuminated women’s caring and relational way of moral thinking and behavior in contrast to men’s rational and subjective way of thinking and behavior. Gilligan’s book reminded many women of the presence of women’s special nature that can be regarded as in many ways superior to men’s. At the same time, it reminded many women of the physiological and psychological differences between the sexes. Gilligan’s book was all the more influential because she was a professor at prestigious Harvard University. Her credentials as an intelligent feminist also contributed to the acceptance of her views by many of her fellow feminists.

What is the new paradigm of the male-female relationship emerging in the 1980s and 1990s? It is being promoted both by many critics of radical feminism and by the new generation of feminists.[12] I call this paradigm interdependence. Many women have come to disagree with the paradigm of independence promoted by radical feminism, and at the same time they are dissatisfied with the old paradigm of one-sided dependence. Thus, according to my observation, we can discern two paradigm shifts in male-female relations in the United States during the last forty years: from dependence to independence and from independence to interdependence. In my view, the age of interdependence is now dawning throughout the world, not only between men and women but also in many other fields.

Finally, I would like to make it clear that our mentioning of the three paradigms of dependence, independence and interdependence does not completely correspond with the empirical situation of male-female relations in the United States. For example, the paradigm of independence was fashionable and influential especially among highly educated women in the radical 1960s and 1970s, but it never prevailed in the relations between ordinary American husbands and wives of that era. Nevertheless, the main goal of feminist thought about husband-wife relations was firmly in that direction. Similarly, since the 1980s the paradigm among the most influential women has moved from pursuing the goal of the self-realized independent woman towards the realization of genuine interdependent relations between men and women.


2. The Rise of the Interdependent Relations throughout the World

Since the 1990s, the entire world has seen the gradual rise of the paradigm of interdependent relations. It is my conviction that we are heading for the age of interdependence, not only in husband-wife relations but also in many other fields, especially in this new age of the global village. To explain this, I must elaborate on the meaning of interdependence and its social implications.

Interdependent relations means symbiotic relations. Symbiosis is a biological term that refers to the relationship between two or more different organisms living together in close association, especially when it the relationship is mutually beneficial. To vividly present the meaning of interdependent or symbiotic relations, I will present a story. I have long been struck by the value of narrative theology, which attempts to present the meaning of important concepts through touching stories, stories that move not just our intellect but primarily our heart. Here I apply the narrative method to the exposition of Unification Thought.[13] This story was originally delivered in a sermon by Sundar Singh, a famous Indian Christian mystic in the first part of this century.

It was extremely cold afternoon in the midst of winter. On a rugged path in the Himalaya Mountains, two friends were walking together on the way to their home village. It was sometimes snowing hard, and the severely cold north wind was blowing. They were walking in a near blizzard!

Walking against the harsh cold wind and blinding snow, they did not at first realize that a man lay on the snowy ground. His body was covered with light snow. He was alive but nearly frozen to death; he was nearly unconscious. One of the two friends felt very sorry for this suffering man. Eager to help him, he would not walk away from this almost frozen man.

The other friend also felt sorry for this frozen man. Nonetheless, he said to his friend, “We must get to our village before dark. We have to hurry up to reach our home before dark. I’m sorry for this man, but let’s leave him here and go quickly.” The first friend, however, could not abandon the almost dead man and refused to walk away from the scene. Then, the second friend again said to the first friend, “All right, I am going on ahead of you,” and hurriedly walked away alone, heading for the village.

The first friend put the almost frozen man on his back and slowly walked in the direction of his village against the harsh cold wind. Not far from the village, in the dusk he saw a dark object on the path. When he came close to the object, much to his surprise, it turned out to be the frozen body of his friend who had hurriedly gone ahead alone and had left him and the almost dead traveler behind. His heart was not beating any longer; he was already frozen, dead.

The first friend felt very sad at the death of his friend. He realized that his friend had frozen to death on the way home because he had walked alone in the severely cold wind. He whispered to himself in his heart, “How about me? Because I’ve carried this nearly frozen man on my back, his body has kept me warm on my way here. That’s why I could reach here while sweating under his warm body. Come to think of it, I was saved by this nearly dead traveler frozen on the path! I thought I was saving this frozen traveler, but on the contrary, it was indeed this traveler who saved me!”[14]

In this story, the relationship between the first friend and the nearly dead traveler is an example of interdependent relations. The first friend was saved by the suffering traveler whom he saved. Walking alone, one died; walking together, two survived—thanks to their mutually beneficial interdependent relations.

In my view, it is important to distinguish between relations of “coexistence” and those of interdependence.[15] The connotation of coexistence is that one merely tolerates the existence of others, even though one might prefer that they didn’t exist or disappear. One allows others to exist, but one does not benefit from their existence. A typical case of a coexistent relationship was that of the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. On the contrary, interdependent relations are not cold but warm, not bellicose but peaceful, and not apathetic but full of a loving heart. One welcomes others to exist because of the mutually beneficial or complementary relationships one enjoys with them.

In the case of husband-wife relations, even the word “welcome” in the above sentence sounds too weak. According to the perspective of Unification Thought, in a “true family” the husband needs his wife absolutely and the wife needs her husband absolutely, because they absolutely complement each other. Expounding Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s words on the “Four Great Realms of Heart,” Dr. Sang Hun Lee described the significance of conjugal love between a husband and a wife as follows:

Among the four kinds of love… namely, children’s love, brothers and sisters’ love, conjugal love and parental love, the love that becomes the representative of all of them is conjugal love. This is so because… the husband represents all the males within a family, and the wife represents all the females within a family; moreover each represents one of God’s dual characteristics. Another reason is that the husband is the position to represent all men, who constitute half of humankind, and the wife is the position to represent all women, who constitute the other half of humankind; moreover, husband represents the yang aspect of the whole universe, and the wife represents the yin aspect of the whole universe.[16]

Considering this, the Unification Thought view of husband-wife relations is quite different from relations where the husband dominates his wife and the wife is totally dependent on her husband. It is also poles apart from the relationship which the self-realized independent woman has with her alienated husband. It clearly fits the model of interdependent and complimentary relations between husband and wife.

Interdependent relations exist not only between husband and wife, but also between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, and between the different generations in a family. Our interdependent relations in a family mean that we are in a position to live together, to help each other, and to love each other. According to Unification Thought, a family is the most important place to learn and to practice true love. Therefore, we can also assert that the family is the most important place to learn interdependent relations. It is noteworthy that Rev. Moon has repeatedly and harshly criticized atomistic individualism; extreme individualism is antithetical to the idea of interdependence and prevents us from establishing the interdependent relations.

We can now find numerous attempts to facilitate the rise of the interdependent relations throughout the world. In a previous paper, I described the recent historical trend of the rise of regional economic communities that transcend national barriers.[17] It is important to realize that creation of regional economic communities such as the European Community and the North American Free Trade Zone by NAFTA, as well as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference), are attempts to facilitate the rise of the interdependent relations among nations in their respective regions. In general we can see the following fact: the regions that have established wide and deep interdependent relations among their nations are now economically prosperous, whereas those regions (e.g., Africa) that failed to establish such interdependent relations among their nations are economically stagnant.

It is also noteworthy that many nations that were former colonies have gone through a similar course of paradigm shifts in relations with their former colonial masters: from dependence and independence towards interdependence. They were once dependent on their imperialist patron; then they became independent of the imperialist powers; recently, forgiving their former enemies, many have striven to establish the interdependent relations with them. When comparing formerly colonized nations, we can generally see more prosperity in the nations that established interdependent relations with the former imperialist nations of the West and Japan than in such nations (e.g., Cuba, North Korea) that isolated or were forced to isolate themselves from the former imperialist nations. This is because economic development is facilitated not by isolation but by give-and-receive actions.[18] It is also suggestive that formerly colonized nations still under the influence of the doctrinaire Marxist views have failed to establish interdependent relations with the former imperialist nations. The more Marxist influences, the less interdependent relations.

Moreover, in recent years there has emerged not only regional economic communities but also a global economic community, which some economists also call “a borderless economic market.” The global economic community is emerging largely as a result of the elimination of national trade barriers, which are carefully watched by the new World Trade Organization (WTO). The explosive development of the personal computer and communication technology has also contributed to the emergence of interdependent economic networks not only in certain regions but also throughout the whole world.

Deep awareness and appreciation of interdependent relations is the prerequisite for unification or unity, as well as for peace, among the constituent members of such relations. Seeing the gradual rise of the interdependent relations throughout the world, we can generally discern that the whole world is gradually becoming more unified as well as more peaceful than ever before.

We can also easily find the cultural trend towards interdependence among many business corporations throughout the world. We can clearly see that many successful and prosperous companies have seriously promoted the interdependent relations between management and the labor. Companies, and their counterparts in organized labor, which are lacking in a culture of interdependence are, in many cases, in trouble. Put differently, companies and labor unions still somehow under the influence of the old Marxist culture of conflicts and hatred have not thrived but declined in the new borderless economic market.

Interdependent relations exist not only among human beings, but also between human beings and all things in our environment. Pollution of natural resources and other environmental problems were caused by our lack of awareness and appreciation of our interdependent relations with the environment. It is encouraging, however, that there has been a rising awareness of our interdependent relations with our environment, as we can see in the growing interest in environmental ethics among scholars and religious leaders in recent years.

Finally, we can also describe the relationship between human beings and God as having gone through the paradigm shifts from dependence and independence towards interdependence. I will not go into detail here, but just sum up my general observation of human relationship with God, as this is not a theological paper.

In the past, there had been a long age of human beings’ dependence on God; as God was considered to be omnipotent and omniscient. Then, there came the age of human beings’ attempts to become independent of God. Unification Thought discerns the existence of three cultural waves or movements during the last 400 years which were human attempts to become independent of God. The first wave was the Renaissance; the second wave was the Enlightenment; and the third and final wave was the Communist movement based on Marxism-Leninism. Nonetheless, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the nations of Eastern Europe abandoned Communism, this militantly atheistic ideology completely lost credibility. The era of human beings’ rebellion against God had ended.

In my view, today throughout the world we see a gradual rise of human beings’ awareness of our interdependent relationship with God. This new understanding of our human relationship with God is now emerging in the religious world, as typified by the rise of Unification Theology. It acknowledges the existence of human freedom and responsibility with which even God cannot intervene. Interdependence includes the dimension of living together joyfully; therefore, interdependence between human beings and God means for God and human beings to live together joyfully. It appears to me that the world is heading for the age when God and human beings can live together joyfully on earth, as prophesied in the Christian Scripture in the Revelation to John.[19]


3. What Caused the Paradigm Shift towards Interdependent Relations?

What caused the paradigm shift from independence towards interdependence? What caused the paradigm shift towards the acceptance and increasing popularity of interdependent relations in various fields? In this section, we will examine the major causes of this paradigm shift.

First of all, in the case of husband-wife relations in the United States, the accumulation of empirical data suggests that for a large number of individual feminist women, their actual experiences probably played an important role in changing the paradigm of their relationship with their husbands. They became dissatisfied with their role as the self-realized independent woman relating with her alienated (and often divorced) husband, and began to seek an interdependent relationship with their husbands. I do not deny the importance of the actual experience in causing the paradigm shift towards interdependent relations in many other fields as well.

When analyzing from a Unification Thought perspective, we can also see that the paradigm of interdependence is rooted in the reality of “dual characteristics” or the pair system which characterizes all the existent beings. It is rooted in the reality that each human being is an “individual embodiment of truth”—a unique individual who has something unique to offer through give-and-receive actions. It is also supported by the reality of each and every being existing as a “connected body.” In short, we can say that the sum of various women’s experiences confirmed such reality as described by Unification Thought, and that their empirical information facilitated the paradigm shift towards interdependence in husband-wife relations. In other words, we can respond to the question, What caused the paradigm shift towards interdependence in many fields? with an answer that the paradigm shift emerged because it fits with the reality of all beings. Unification Thought explains the reality of all beings in terms of dual characteristics, the individual embodiment of truth, and the connected body, all concepts which are by far more congenial to the paradigm of interdependence than those of dependence or independence.[20]

Nonetheless, according to my observation, the most decisive factor that has contributed to the near universal paradigm shift towards interdependent relations in the late 1980s and 1990s was the demise of the conflict-inciting Communist ideology. The Communist ideology of Marxism-Leninism gradually lost credibility throughout the world in the 1980s and completely collapsed in the 1990s as the Soviet Union disintegrated and the East European Communist nations and abandoned Marxism-Leninism.

As is well-known by now, doctrinaire Marxism-Leninism over-emphasized the existence of conflicts in the world. It falsely asserted that only the struggles of conflicting elements could bring about development. It incited and justified violent struggles and wars in the name of the class struggle. It encouraged believers to harbor deep hatred and to reject any mercy for their enemy. Marxism-Leninism gave rise to a culture of hatred and is rightly blamed for the tragic death of several tens of millions of innocent people in Communist nations under the dictatorships of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and others.

As I earlier introduced a story in order to expound interdependent relations, let me also mention a story that, I believe, represents the Marxist worldview. I read this Marxist moral story in Korean in 1971 when I took a course on “Elementary Reading in Korean Language” at Tokyo University. The textbook which contained this moral story was printed in Beijing and was probably published to indoctrinate children with Marxist values. More than a quarter century has passed since I read it. Nonetheless, I still remember its basic story line, not only because as a beginning student in Korean I had to carefully translate the story word by word, but also because I was so emotionally troubled by its moral lessons.

The story runs as follows: Once there was a warm-hearted grandfather in the countryside near a big mountain. One day, when he was walking on the mountain path, he found a ferocious and cunning wolf who was wounded and caught in a trap. The wolf asked the grandfather for mercy and for his help. Persuaded by the wolf, the grandfather helped the wolf get out of the trap. Then, later, the grandfather was attacked and eaten by the very same evil wolf that he had so kindly saved. Moral lesson: Have no mercy for your enemy; don’t forgive your enemy; kill your enemy; it is dangerous to keep your enemy alive![21]

Apparently, the ferocious and cunning wolf symbolized the capitalists, the “enemies of the people.” Human relations fostered by the Marxist worldview, as exemplified by the above story, are quite a contrast to the interdependent relations promoted by religious worldviews such as exemplified by Sundar Singh’s story. Undoubtedly, awareness and appreciation of interdependent relations in many fields could never taken root as long as there existed widespread support for conflict-inciting and hatred-spreading Marxism in our world. It is my conviction that only the demise of Communist ideology enabled many people to discern the legitimacy and crucial importance of interdependent relations.

Since the 1960s, Rev. Moon has devoted himself to liberating the world from Communism. The effect which his many efforts had in weakening Communism and strengthening the West’s resolve to fight it is only beginning to be documented.[22] They included movements devoted to anti-Communist ideological education, notably CAUSA and the International Federation for Victory Over Communism (IFVOC), as well as the influential newspaper The Washington Times. Together with his disciple Dr. Sang Hun Lee, he developed and promoted a thorough critique of conflict-inciting doctrinaire Marxism including a counterproposal which outlines his vision of interdependent relations.[23]

Rev. Moon has spoken volumes about the emerging culture of interdependence, which he calls the “culture of true love.” In this sense, he has been on the front line of both the movement to defeat Communism and the movement to establish the new paradigm of interdependent relations. Given also that the demise of Communism (Marxism-Leninism) has been arguably the most decisive factor for the near universal rise of the paradigm of interdependent relations, Rev. Moon’s contribution to the world’s acceptance of interdependent relations must be underscored.



We have examined the cultural trend of changing paradigms of relationships as it has manifested in families and in the larger world. In the first section of this paper, we discussed cultural trends in the relationships between husbands and wives in American families through examining the rise and transformation of the feminist movement in the United States. We discerned two paradigm shifts in the relationship between men and women: from dependence to independence, and then from independence to interdependence. Unification Thought emphasizes that the family is the most important place for inheriting and creating cultures and shared values.

In the second section, we further elaborated the meaning and implications of interdependent relations through a story by Sundar Singh and a discussion of the Unification Thought perspective on conjugal love. Then we pointed out the gradual rise of such interdependent relations in various fields throughout the world, especially in the 1990s. In the third section, we argued that the demise of conflict-inciting Marxism has played a decisive role in facilitating the rise in the 1990s of the new culture of interdependence in many areas of human relations.

Rev. Moon teaches that the culture of the interdependent relations is a culture of true love and a culture of true family. We naturally learn the existence and importance of interdependent relations first and foremost in our own family through our parents. Many problems in this world are derived from the existence of so many broken families and near-broken families, where husbands and wives, parents and children, and brothers and sisters merely coexist without establishing genuine and warm interdependent relations. Therefore, the creation of true families, where children can observe and learn the joy and happiness of loving interdependent relations, is key to the universal rise of interdependent relations. It is noteworthy that, by organizing the “true family movement” throughout the world and promoting global Blessing events (e.g., the Blessing of 3.6 million couples in 1997), Rev. and Mrs. Moon have also been working to create true families where such interdependent relations abound.

Where there are the interdependent relations, there emerges unity and prosperity. Appreciation of their interdependent relationship will necessarily facilitate give-and-receive action between the two partners, which Unification Thought views as the source of all the forces the entity needs for existence, multiplication, and development.

We should strive for the rise of the culture of interdependence in families, in societies, and throughout the world. We should live not separately but together; we should live, not arms in hand, but hand in hand. In this age of the global village, if we hope to build a peaceful and unified world, we must make serious efforts to facilitate the rise of the culture of interdependence, that is, the culture of true love. Already the Marxist culture of hatred has been receding all over the world as the morning fog dissipates in the sunlight. I sincerely hope that it will not be long before the culture of true love permeates all human relations throughout the entire world.



[1] For example, see Jeffrey C. Alexander and Steven Seidman, eds., Culture and Society: Contemporary Debates (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), who discerned and presented six approaches to culture: functionalist, semiotic, dramaturgical, Weberian, Durkheimian, Marxian, and Poststructuralist.

[2] Since moving to Korea In 1994, I have continued to visit the United States for two or three months every year.

[3] For a summary and feminist critique of Aquinas’s view of women, see, e.g., Mary Daly, The Church and the Second Sex (New York: Harper & Row, 1975).

[4] Many distinguished universities such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton accepted only males as students and did not allow women to study there until the 1960s.

[5] E.g., Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (New York: Norton, 1963).

[6] Betty Friedan, The Second Stage. (New York: Summit Books, 1981).

[7] Ibid., p. 28.

[8] Connell Cowan and Melvyn Kinder, Smart Women/Foolish Choices (New York: New American Library, 1985), p. 16.

[9] Susan Faludi, Backlash: Undeclared War Against American Women (New York: Crown, 1991), p. xii. See Megan Marshall, The Cost of Loving: Women and the New Fear of Intimacy (New York: Putnam, 1984), p. 218.

[10] Faludi, p. xiii. Faludi herself sharply criticizes these statements, although she aptly documented and summarized the various critiques of radical feminism.

[11] Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982).

[12] Many members of the Women’s Federation for World Peace belong to this new generation of feminists who appreciate the interdependent relations between males and females.

[13] If I find this narrative method effective, I may attempt a book on a narrative Unification Thought which will explain various important concepts of Unification Thought through vivid and touching stories.

[14] In Yoshihisa Odajima, Kirisutokyou Rinri Nyumon [An Introduction to Christian Ethics] (Tokyo: Yorudan-sha, 1988), pp. 118-19; translated into English by the author.

[15] It is noteworthy that Korean word kong-saeng was translated as “interdependence” in Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: HSA-UWC, 1996), p. 342, a new English translation of Wolli-kangnon (Seoul: HSA-UWC, 1966).

[16] Sang Hun Lee, “The Four Great Realms of Heart and the Three Great Kingships,” Unification Thought Quarterly 39 (1996), pp. 49-61.

[17] Yoshihiko Masuda, “Secularization or Sacralization? A Discussion of Modern Human History from a Unification Thought Perspective,” in The Establishment of a New Culture and Unification Thought: Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium on Unification Thought, (Tokyo: Unification Thought Institute, 1991), p. 101.

[18] For the meaning and implications of give-and-receive action, see Essentials of Unification Thought: The Head-Wing Thought (Tokyo: Unification Thought Institute, 1992).

[19] “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them.” (Rev. 21:3, New Revised Standard Version)

[20] Essentials of Unification Thought, p. 70, declares, “all beings are created in the resemblance of God’s dual characteristics, and therefore they exist not only as individual truth bodies, but also as connected bodies, whereby they are connected, directly or indirectly, with other individual truth bodies.”

[21] The other students in the Korean class—five or six in all—who read this story with me were Korean Marxist students born and educated in Japan and associated with the Chosen Souren organization which supports the North Korean government.

[22] See especially Thomas Ward and Frederick Swarts, “Rush to History: A Notable Omission in Postmortem Literature on the Cold War” in this volume. For a study documenting of The Washington Times’ contribution to the demise of the Soviet Union, see Hiroyasu Tomaru, Sekai Saikyouno Shinbun [The Most Powerful Newspaper in the World] (Tokyo: Kogensha, 1994.)

[23] This paper is dedicated to the memory of my dear teacher Dr. Sang Hun Lee, the greatest systematizer of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s thought. Dr. Lee passed away on March 22, 1997, during the Ninth International Symposium on Unification Thought held at Sun Moon University, South Korea. Several hours before Dr. Lee lost consciousness, I had a personal opportunity to talk with him about my paper. Dr. Lee was happy to hear that I would include in the revised version of my paper a note acknowledging his very significant contribution to the demise of the Communist ideology.