Friday, November 27, 2020

Reliable News, Received as Reliable

In the Catholic Peace Weekly, a university professor writes in the Diagnosis of Current Events column on the reliability of our news.
 
According to the  "Digital News Report 2020," the reliability of Korea's news was the lowest among the 40 countries that participated in the survey. Only 21% of the 2304 Koreans who participated responded that "I can trust most news most of the time". This is a 1% drop from last year. It is noteworthy that compared to the low credibility of news, the percentage of respondents who answered "I prefer news from my perspective" (44%) is significantly higher than the average of other countries (28%).
 
News trusted by the public must be accurate, objective, fair, and balanced. We are not sure that "news with my perspective" is necessarily reliable. This is because subjective requirements, such as personal beliefs, attitudes, and opinions, must be reflected regardless of the quality of the news.
 
The problem with low credibility in news is seen as the false and manipulation of information.  'YouTube' was seen as the most likely platform to contain false or misleading information and yet YouTube continues to increase.
 
Trust is the basic foundation for the smooth operation of society as well as the development of relationships between individuals. Trust in the news and public opinion are essentially related. The low credibility of the news causes difficulties in providing information for the public and fulfilling their role as watchdogs.
 
To restore the credibility of the news and the media, self-reflection, and self-correction must take precedence over everything else. Reporting based on the interests of the media, such as specific political factions or commercial interests needs to be avoided, faithful to the verified facts treated from multiple perspectives.
 
We need to be concerned with the role of the media, but equally concerned with our usage of the media. News users need to pay attention to the "hostile media effect", this occurs when supporters or opponents of an issue perceive identical, balanced news coverage of that issue to be biased unfavorable to them.
 
User biased information processing occurs in accessing and interpreting news when public opinion is clearly divided, and also in people who have a strong tendency to use factional news.
 
The tendency to perceive that media coverage is biased in a direction favorable to individuals or groups with a liberal tendency is called a liberal bias, and the tendency tilted in the direction of supporting conservative opinions is a conservative bias. This biased use of information is more likely to appear more frequently in those who tend to use their political orientation as an important criterion for determining social reality than those who do not.
 
Citizens need to look beyond the preference for a specific political party or politician but see rather the present reality, values, and world view. The polarized use of news and credibility of the news is a social issue that limits political tolerance, the core value of democracy. The news must be trustworthy and the citizens must be able to discern the truth, this is why both the media, the news, and citizen have to have this as their goal.
 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Need to Live in the Present

Each year at this time we come to the end of the liturgical year. We have been changed in some way for better or worse. Hopefully, as Christians, it has been for the better. God is always loving, giving his graces and his Spirit wants to abide with us but we often have not made him welcomed.

This coming Sunday is the beginning of Advent and the new liturgical year. In Korea, the last week of the liturgical year is Bible Week and a time to prepare ourselves for the New Year. This month we pray for the dead and bring to mind our own death and how to prepare for the inevitable end of earthly life—the meeting of Our Lord.

A priest working as a pastoral minister for the sick in a diocese writes in a parish bulletin on what he has learned over the years about death and how it is met by the many patients he has ministered to. The writer has been at the bedsides of those dying and has given the subject a great deal of thought.

When the pronouncement of cancer or some other terminal disease is made, some deny and refuse to accept what they hear for they considered death to be far away. In some of the cases with medical help, the patients return to health but others have to deal with the approach of death. Some get angry and depressed while others accept the situation in which they are in.

When the sick person gets the word that death is near many emotions arise and many of the sick are overcome by the turbulence. The person looks back on their life, sorry for the things they did or did not do. They are taken up with the past to such an extent that they forget the present that they are now experiencing. 

He asks the readers: Have you thought about death? Death is near, we are rehearsing for death every time we go to bed. Death is close.
We need to prepare. The best preparation is to live each day fully and faithfully. This will enable us to meet death with internal peace even though the pain and anguish may still be there.


 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Dreaming of Peace Between North and South Korea

The 4th International Conference on Catholic Northeast Asia Peace Research Institute on the theme of 'Unfinished War' was written up in the Catholic Weekly. Below is a summary of the article.

Real peace, possible through forgiveness and reconciliation—need to understand North Korean culture and history. The role of the church: peace education emphasizing fraternal love for North Koreans.  

At the Conference hosted by one of the Dioceses, participants had a comprehensive discussion on the theme: "The Church's Role in Building a Peace System on the Korean Peninsula."
 

The Korean War remains an unfinished war, 70 years after the outbreak, and the two Koreas are currently the only divided country in the world. There was an in-depth discussion of the causes, measures to overcome the present situation, and the role of the church.

Efforts for conversion and forgiveness: At this point on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, Christians are left with prayer and conversion.

In his keynote speech, the Bishop of the diocese explained the wounds that the Korean War brought to Korean society and the church and emphasized that conversion and forgiveness are the paths necessary  for healing.

The first thing we must face is the reality of pain. It means that we must know the nature of war, the reality of evil. The hostility between the North and South still plagues us.  Personal and collective experiences such as death and plunder during the war were passed down even to the descendants who did not experience the war directly. Subsequently, the church also confessed that it had experienced severe persecution due to the war and was not free from the antagonism caused by its wounds.

The internalization of hostility is the biggest damage suffered by the church in its mission of reconciliation and peace. He emphasized that forgiveness is the door to reconciliation and the way to peace, but it is a very difficult task. Therefore, he suggested that it is the church's role to lead by being an example of forgiving. The church teaches that true peace is possible by forgiveness and reconciliation.

The first meeting was followed by a reflection on the anti-communism of the church and suggestions for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Another participant mentioned the anti-communist attitude before and after the Korean War. The concept that the "communists are persecutors"  was fixed in the church before and after the Korean War, and the anti-communist character of the church was maintained until the 1980s. We must be able to have productive dialogue and coexistence without demonizing or dehumanizing the other party.

"It is time to develop a Catholic peace movement for Korea." said another participant, that for true reconciliation and peace, we must first go through the process of understanding North Korea. The Korean War does not end simply by declaring an end to the war. To do this, he emphasized it's necessary to clearly understand the cultural and historical characteristics of North Korea and to constantly knock on the door thinking they are partners capable of dialogue and negotiation.
 
From armistice to peace. At the second meeting, more active measures were sought to move toward a peace regime. To achieve a peace agreement on the Korean Peninsula, all countries related to the Korean War, South Korea, North Korea, the United States, China, and Japan, need to have a common understanding.

A Japanese participant confessed, "I feel a sense of responsibility as a Japanese who was a citizen of a  colonial country." To advance to peace, we must first have a common awareness of war and look at war with a spirit of reflection and apology. He also advised that both South and North Korea must repent, apologize, and pledge not to repeat this again.
 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Galileo Affair Revisited

An article in the Kyeongyang magazine by a university priest professor gives the readers some idea of the problems that surround the Galileo affair. 

 

Galileo, a well-known Italian physicist, and astronomer came before the inquisition on two occasions, both in 1616 and 1633. It was not a question about his religious beliefs but on what he discovered by the use of the telescope. What he saw was not according to the teaching of the theologians and was condemned.

 

This incident with Galileo up until the present time has been the seedbed of conflict between the world of science and the church. He was condemned, it is supposed, for his position that the earth circles the sun and not the sun, the earth. The historians of science continue even today to research what happened at that time.

 

The writer of the article maintains that it is the conflict between those who hold for scientific realism and those who are anti-realism. The history of the Galileo affair up until the present was simply the story of a scientist who because the church failed to understand his discovery, condemned him with its great power.

 

But at the beginning of the 20th century, we have the question asked by the philosophers: What is science? These philosophers of science have come to see other aspects of the incident with Galileo that took place some 400 hundred years before. The issue is scientific realism.

 

There are many scientists and philosophers of science who hold to scientific realism: Science is the position of obtaining facts and truths that exist as independent realities from our awareness and mind. According to scientific realism, the theory not only has empirical validity, such as describing observed facts and predicting new phenomena, but everything the theory says must be literally true even in the unobservable part. Also, the realist would say that science is doing its job to accurately describe these entities. Galileo was a scientific realist and never changed his mind on the heliocentric theory. 

 

We have also the anti-realists who say that the aim of science is not the obtaining of truth but rather by the results of experiment and observation gain useful knowledge to explain the results of experiments. Thus, the real goal of scientific study is not the truthfulness, but empirical relevance. In other words, a scientific theory may be a fictional model that does not intend truth. 

 

Consequently, the anti-realism school is agnostic in the exactness that can be achieved by the scientific method. The scientific method in its observation is a useful tool in helping to achieve predictions of what will transpire. According to anti-realism, the task of science is narrowed down to the pursuit of knowledge that can be verified empirically. Also, theories about unobservable are seen as a hypothesis, a convenient tool for thinking.

 

Even at the time of Galileo, we had those who were anti-realists: Cardinal Bellarmine and Pope Urban VIII. What is the situation today between the two camps?

 

The realists support Galileo and criticize the church for knowing little about science and condemning a great scientist. However, we do have the anti-realist philosophers of science such as Paul Feyerabend who surprise many with his words in Against Method.

 

"In the time of Galileo, the church stuck much more closely to reason than Galileo did himself and is also considered the ethical and social consequences of the Galilean teachings. Its judgment against Galileo was rational and just, and its revision can only be justified in a political opportunist way.

 

 The church was by no means dogmatic. It did not say: what is contrary to the Bible, as we understand it, is false. It did not push aside scientific truths, but they were rather used to review traditional conceptions about the meaning of certain passages from the Bible. For example, there are many passages where the earth is clearly described as flat. Nevertheless, the conception of the sphericity of the earth was an integral part of the Church's teachers from the eleventh century on.

 

The church, however, wanted precise evidence, not vague assumptions (e.g. poor observations with the telescope). Therefore, Galileo was forbidden in the process to present the Copernican doctrine as truth! But he was allowed to use it as a hypothesis!"

 

The Galileo Affair continues to be a conflict between the two camps even to this day. It has been subject to distortion and myth and continues to stir intense disagreement among historians, scientists, and philosophers.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

'Humility' A Difficult and Misunderstood Virtue

A month has passed, and the words of the Emperor of Trot, Na Hoon-ah still lingers in the ears of the columnist in the Peace Column of the Peace Weekly. "I have never seen a king or a president who risked their lives for the people. It was our people who protected the country."

Was he criticizing the politicians to cheer up the people who were tired of corona virus? Even if no kings or presidents have given their lives for the people, many leaders in society have done so. However, the writer is disappointed with what some politicians are doing these days and remembers well the lyrics which Na Hoon-ah addresses to Socrates his brother: "Why is the world like this, why is it so hard?"

Not just a few people are saying life is difficult and it is not only because of the corona virus. The economy is dark and politics stifling. Do we have any political leaders that can bring relief? Political leaders should take care of the people, and people should be concerned about them.

Anyone can be a leader, and in some ways, everyone is a leader. They serve as leaders in the home, in church, and in the workplace. Aside from ability, what attitude should a leader have in terms of personality? The behavior of some political leaders deserves to be taken as an example of what not to do. Let us look at some of these ways of acting.

First, do not listen to others. Everybody has some strengths and weaknesses. See what you want to see and hear what you want to hear. Do you know stubbornness is a driving force? There is no way to communicate just by only expressing your thoughts. When the disagreement worsens, the people become indifferent or give up. Only by acknowledging the other person will we be acknowledged.

Second, do not apologize for making mistakes. If we admit our faults, will we be strategically intimidated because the faults will increase? Is there no courage? They try to ignore embarrassing situations or try to hide them. Shouldn't we give the people a chance to forgive? A leader who cannot apologize is a weak man who does not know how to repent.

Third, blame others. Responsibility for misconduct is passed on to a predecessor or others. Turn the displeasure of people's grief towards others to hide their own faults. It's a trick that puts framing on the other side. I may escape criticism by using deception, but will I be able to escape guilt? You must beat your heart and repent. "It's my fault. It's my fault. It is my most grievous fault."

Fourth, they are proud of their obvious lies. They do it over and over again. When you say you're lying, they show surprise and raise their voice. They must believe that if they persist people will eventually believe them. When evidence of lies is revealed, it's passed off as a way of speech. This cannot be done without looking down on the people. Lies destroy faith. People follow only leaders who garner trust.

Finally, they only look at their own side. The leader must be the leader of everyone. Not the head of a specific group. The phenomenon of a politician's 'fandom' becomes important. They show off their strength by leaning on the crowd that follows them unconditionally, showing only the smallness of the leader. Don't cater to those who support you, but say the truth at all times, is that not the attitude of a great leader? "Thank you for loving me. Please love all the others too".

These faults will not be easily revealed if people are respected and served. These mistakes are made by those who look down on the people and keep their neck stiff. "Power comes from humility." These are the words of Pope Francis. Jesus is a humble leader who gave his life to serve humans. Should not the leader of the people hope to be a "humble servant"? The writer in conclusion admits his embarrassment in writing what he did.

 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Designer Babies Of the Future

A Bioethicist in the recent issue of the Catholic Peace Weekly gives the readers in Diagnosis of Current Events some thoughts to examine.


In a movie called "My Sisters Keeper", which was released in 2009, parents gave birth to a customized baby (Anna) who was to donate blood and bone marrow to a daughter (Kate) suffering from leukemia. Anna was born with the fate of giving blood and bone marrow to her sister. 

 

When Anna turned 11, she filed a lawsuit against her parents for forcing her to donate a kidney for her older sister. The mother (Sarah), was obsessed with Kate's cure. They had a fierce court battle and it was found out later that it was at Kate's request that Anna filed the lawsuit. She was also suffering from the pain that her disease was causing her sister, Anna. This film raises the question of whether science and technology can discover the meaning of family and the dignity of life.


Designer babies aren't just in movies. In October 2018, in India, the parents of a son suffering from a rare disease called 'thalassemia' visited a fertility specialist to give birth to a customized baby (Kavya Solanki) that was genetically matched with her brother through genetic testing before implantation. In March of this year, when Kavya was less than 16 months old, a bone marrow transplant was performed for her brother, and he recovered. Parents call Kavya the 'savior' because her birth changed the life of the family. 


Customized babies born for brothers and sisters, like Kavya, are called 'Saviour Siblings'. Unlike the movie, the birth of a customized baby seems to be a happy ending for this family. But we haven't heard all about Kavya yet; she is a child who is now only 24 months old. 

 

Kavya's parents gave birth to her because it was a child who had a perfect genetic match with her son. So, to give birth to Kavya, parents created embryos through in vitro procedures even though they were not infertile, and embryos were selected through numerous genetic tests. We can't help but think about how many embryos have been destroyed in this process. Human life is the fruit of love through the unity of the couple, and even though "humans must be respected as a person from the first moment of their existence" the embryo is created and treated as a material tool and if not helpful discarded. 


The birth of a Savior baby can be a prelude to a descending slippery slope. This is because human desire does not stop at making a younger brother provide bone marrow, but can move toward genetic modification. 


In 2019, the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine stated in its declaration that it supported gene editing in somatic cells, but that gene editing in the gonads (eggs, sperm, fertilized embryos) was inappropriate. 


There are still many flaws in technical, as well as ethical, legal, and social issues. In the case of human embryos, the side effects of gene editing are bound to be confirmed by growing into adults. Also, if a side effect occurs, it cannot be reversed or stopped. But even more dangerous would be the unrestrained human desire for science and technology. 

 

So it seems that we desperately need the wisdom to know when to stop as science and technology advance. This is because science and technology do not always lead humanity to a blessed new world.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Working for Unification and Reconciliation on the Peninsula

 

In the Catholic Times' column on Reconciliation and Unification on the Peninsula a member of a research team gives the readers some thoughts on the present situation between South and North Korea.

At one time, the theory of the collapse of North Korea spread secretly. This was when the communist Eastern Bloc collapsed, and from the mid-1990s, North Korea was also faced with a life or death economic crisis. 

A large-scale defection of North Koreans who could not overcome hunger appeared and the image of young street children begging was released in the South Korean media. The news that the ration system was broken and the North Koreans were seeking food in a market system, led to wishful thinking that the conditions for a 'revolution from below' were established in North Korea.  

The expectation that North Korea could collapse had a profound effect on the South Korean government's policy toward North Korea. The most representative one was the attitude that even humanitarian aid to North Korea was criticized. The gist of this way of thinking was if left alone, the North Korean regime would have collapsed, but the North Korean government was supported and revived.  

Even though the relationship between aid to North Korea and North Korea's nuclear development could not be clearly determined, this thinking spread in the collective perception of South Korean society. This thinking was effective because of the expectation that North Korea could collapse.  

However, considering that the North Korean economic crisis actually started in the late 1980s, North Korea still survives 30 years later. The politically most sensitive area, the succession of power, was successfully accomplished for three generations, and the marketplace and 'marketization', which were considered the beginnings of the revolution from below, and the appearance of capitalists, have established themselves in the everyday areas of North Korean society.  

Although the number of North Korean defectors coming to South Korea is steady, the reason for the defection is more diversified than before, such as education for children and enjoying free cultural life rather than lack of food.  

Recently, many North Koreans, dressed well visit Panmunjeom, where only South Korean visitors appeared in the past. It is a kind of confidence in the system that they are not ashamed to present themselves to South Korea now. The predictions of those who were uncomfortable with the exchanges with North Korea because they thought the North would collapse have missed the mark. 

During that long period of crisis, North Korea has overcome difficult times and is concerned about a lack of protein and balanced nutrition among the citizens. Although North Korea's nuclear weapons have advanced, international sanctions in response to this have also been strengthened which impedes North Korea's economic development. 

Time is neither on the South Korean side nor on the North Korean side. The time when we didn't want to do anything was not enough time but we need to invest time now to achieve peace with North Korea. "So let's not judge each other anymore. Rather, be determined not to put obstacles or stumbling blocks in front of your brother" (Rom. 14:13).