Tai Ji Men’s teaching on the crucial role of conscience offers a key that may make United Nations work.
by Marco Respinti*
*Conclusions of the webinar “United Nations Day: Internationalizing the Tai Ji Men Case,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on October 24, 2022, United Nations Day.
An article already published in Bitter Winter on November 3rd, 2022.
For months CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers have been offering webinars in a series dedicated to the Tai Ji Men case. One of the peculiarities of this series is that all webinars celebrate a United Nations day of observance. This is very important for one main reason: in doing so, in linking the Tai Ji Men case to the UN days of observance, we constantly internationalize the Tai Ji Men Case—not only today. What this series of webinars tries to do is to create international attention, including from the UN, on a staggering case of injustice perpetrated against Tai Ji Men.
The UN is an important institution, created for one major reason: to secure peace in the world after the horrors of World War II—more precisely, after the horrors of two incredibly evil world wars. In this sense, the UN is a noble and much-needed institution.
Did the UN succeed in its decade-old goal? Honestly, the answer is no. Wars, many wars have taken place in many corners of the world, all the UN’s efforts notwithstanding. But this is why the UN is still operating: to try to grant to the world at least a modicum of peace, in accordance with its original goal.
Yet, on this United Nations Day allow me to include a word of caution directed to all of us. Perfect and perpetual peace on Earth will never be attained. Perfection is in fact not human, it does not belong to this side of eternity. Many projects well before the UN tried to achieve this noble goal. The “ecumenical empires,” to borrow an expression from German-American political philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901–1985), tried to harmonize different people and grant them a decent life through some degree of acceptable peace.
It was the dream of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), the goal of the Roman Empire and later of the Holy Roman Empire, the ideal of the medieval Renovatio Imperii (or the renovation of political power according to a true Christian spirit), and of the similar projects of a “monarchia universalis” (universal monarchy) between the 16th and the 18th centuries. They all failed because all human projects fail.
Considered as a project for a perfect and perpetual peace, also the UN project will fail. But, like its ideal predecessors, the UN project will at the same time succeed. Because, after all, it is not a matter of metrics and quantity: it is a matter of quality. If only for a moment peace can be reached among people and nations, or at least sincerely desired, then the whole project of global peace, including the United Nations, will win. The reward for this victory will be the evidence that real, historical peace among people and nations is possible through the core ingredient that Tai Ji Men is trying to add to every project: conscience.
It seems, however, that Tai Ji Men Shifu (Grand Master), Dr. Hong Tao-Tze, and dizi (disciples) on the one hand offer to peace a very real chance of victory through conscience, on the other hand get no reward. They get persecution and suffering, reminiscent of the cry “How long, o Lord?” “How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?,” made famous by Psalm 13 (1–2) in the English Standard Version of the Bible.
However, “It is not our part to master all the tides of the world,” as English philologist and man of letters J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973) wrote in his novel “The Lord of the Rings” (1953–1954), “but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.”
This is a lesson also taught by Tai Ji Men and Dr. Hong, and one we, and the United Nations, can all apply.