Saturday, June 19, 2021

What is first In Pastoral Work with the Young?


Young people, bodily, mentally are at the peak of their growth and maturity. A priest with a lot of contact with the young in the Kyeongyang magazine gives his ideas of what should be first in pastoral work with the young. The word used in Korea for young people has the meaning of verdant, vigorous, and full of life.

However, nowadays the writer finds these characteristics of the young missing. In the talk about the young often is heard the three dreams they have given up: romance, marriage, and childbirth. This has increased to the abandonment of two more dreams: house and career. And this continues with the sacrifice of hope, hobbies, and relationships and they have added health and appearance. You find this abandonment in the 20s but more so after the 30s.

The church is aging faster than society and those from 35-45 are extremely valuable members of the community. It's a generation that has to inherit the church from the adults who laid the foundation for the Korean Catholic Church, and a generation that has to prove to young people in their 20s and their children that to live as Christians is different from the world and environment of the past.

This age group's Mass attendance is low and those who have left the community are high. But this does not allow us to simply say they have no interest in the faith life. Those that the writer has met still feel a need for  God. The world in which they live is changing so rapidly and in so many ways that they are continuing to search.

The church has to show them a merciful God. We need to listen to them not at the church but where they are and hear what they are doing and understand their situation. Jesus also went to those who were hurting to give them peace.

The first step is to pray for the young people. To understand them, and to make the community of faith a place where they experience the warmth of Christ's presence. We need to make the community a place where the young people feel the strength and consolation of Christ.

He wonders whether the foundational story of our religion is really known by everyone. We need to reflect on this reality in dealing with young people.  

"God will wipe away every tear from their eyes", Rev. 23:3. In this article, the writer hopes God's words will give some rest to the young people doing their best where ever they are.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

How Responsible Are We for Fake News?

False news, fake news, is pervasive in society; always present but in modern times the purveyors of the news are beyond counting. Emotional reaction to the false, often because of its novelty, spreads fast and does great harm. In the Peace Weekly column In the Eyes of a Priest, the writer shows us some of the harm.

Around 2010 a website appeared with the object of making known the "falsehood" of a famous vocalist's claim to have graduated from a well-known American university. They made known the 'reasons' why this was a false claim. The singer celebrity made clear that his graduation was no fabrication. But the public outcry did not cease. Finally, with all the nasty comments and suffering he had to undergo he sued the management of the website.

No matter what evidence the celebrity brought to their attention it was always attacked for being protected by authorities, his evidence was all fabricated no matter what evidence was presented. At one time there were over 200 thousand members of the website.

The degree of attention that was given to the case was shown when a member of the Attorney General Office went before the National Assembly promising that there would be a strict investigation of the case. After three years those responsible for the website were sentenced for spreading false information, But even after this was made known there were a few who continued and were not able to give up. This is a good example of what is meant by Confirmation Bias.

Recently we had a case of a young college student who died with much of the aspects associated with the vocalist celebrity. Although there was a thorough investigation of the circumstances by the police and medical authorities, saying there was no evidence of murder. However, rather than rational counterarguments, provocative and emotional arguments continued. 

Some media and one-person media even actively manipulated facts and spread them without verification. The media world becomes more and more melodramatic because of its desire to become famous and make money easily from advertising revenue.

"Being critical in this regard is not about demonizing the internet, but is rather an incentive to greater discernment and responsibility for contents both sent and received. All of us are responsible for the communications we make, for the information we share, for the control that we can exert over fake news by exposing it. All of us are to be witnesses of the truth: to go, to see, and to share."This is a quote from Pope Francis's message on Communication Day May 16.

In a considerable number of media and one-person media, responsibility disappears, and narcissism only increases, and people who consume news and video produced in this way also have a serious confirmation bias in the more provocative content. 

Clearly, drastic and structural reforms in the media market are also needed. We need to change the media ecosystem that makes money by clicking. However, let's think about what individuals can do together with institutional improvement. If all were careful in what we clicked and the comments we make and realized the control that we have, wouldn't we see a change?

As healthy consumers of the media, we can make wise decisions on where to click or not click. Would it not be a good practice to skip the provocative titles on my computer and phone?



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Ways of Reducing Irritation and Nagging


In his column in the Catholic Times, a priest psychologist and counselor explains the way of diminishing our annoyances that come to us daily.

There are many varied ways of becoming annoyed in life. People get annoyed with their husbands or children, their bosses or subordinates, or themselves. Why are you annoyed? It's common sense that you get irritated when you're physically overloaded.

It's because of psychological causes that I'm annoyed even though I'm in good physical condition. In other words, irritation is caused when the level of expectation is too high. Expectations are needed for a person to live a healthy life. Especially for young children, the expectation given by adults is the same as essential nutrients.

Children who grow up with expectations live successful lives as adults, but those who don't can't bloom and will wither and die. But like anything else, excessive expectation kills both oneself and others.

It's like giving too much water to grow quickly. Koreans expect a lot from other people.

The psychological aftereffects of having frequent marital fights after marriage, even divorce, and being enthusiastic when the new pastor comes to the parish, and bored with him shortly after: "When will he leave?" are the psychological aftereffects of expectation that are too high.

But why does it give birth to irritation and nagging? It's because of the expectations and the way they push themselves to achieve them.

Sometimes he sees people on TV bragging and saying that they live by whipping themselves. all the time. At first glance, one may think: "They are really living with great zeal" but he feels sorry for them since they are treating themselves like a cow or a horse because of their high expectations.

People who push themselves like this demand the same thing from others. It's to live like a cow. This level of over-expectation is worse for people with compulsion problems. These people look like adults from afar, but living together with them one gets tired.

Then how should I live to reduce irritation and live comfortably? It's simple, lower your expectations. You make a list of expectations for the other person and erase one by one that the other person cannot do. Then the nagging decreases and you let it go, saying: "Yes, you live your own way."

This is true of oneself, too. You make a list of expectations that you want from yourself and erase the unrealistic ones.  During this process, the burden is reduced one by one.

And that's when people start coming close. It's because I feel comfortable with myself. If you feel like people are avoiding you while living zealously one should check if there is anything wrong with your life.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Need For Media Literacy

Just because you think you know politics doesn't mean you do. Also, being religious doesn't necessarily mean that you are well versed in theology. So begins the column in the Catholic News and the need for education in media literacy for pastoral workers by a retired journalist and teacher in media communication.

He worked for almost 30 years as a journalist, desk, and production manager. He admits that he has still a lot to learn about journalism. He realized this after retiring.
After his retirement, he worked as a full-time member of the Korean Newspaper Ethics Committee. The Committee conducts daily post-verification of newspapers and Internet newspapers published by members of the Korea Newspaper Association. Depending on the results of the verification, there are various levels of disciplinary action such as cautions and warnings. It is a voluntary ombudsman in the newspaper industry.

(In modern democracies that respect the constitutional value of freedom of expression, they cannot verify in advance. Of course, exceptions are made in emergencies such as military revolutions. After any media such as newspapers, broadcasting, publications, and movies are made public, the industry starts self-regulation. In the case of the Korea Communications Standards Commission, it is an institution that examines what has been made public. If a person violates the current law or brings court action,  the prosecution, the court, and the Press Arbitration Commission will verify and take necessary measures.)

What the newspaper ethics committee uses as the yardstick for post-verification are the newspaper ethics code and ethical practice. Newspaper ethics is a rule of journalism that has been established worldwide throughout modern times. The ethics of the modern media such as broadcasting ethics and Internet ethics are based on newspaper ethics.

Every day, he opens his eyes to journalistic theory and the ethical reality of our newspaper media by reviewing newspaper ethics clauses. When he began as a reporter he had no time to pay attention to "other things". He was immersed in media practice such as gathering, writing, and producing. Compared to that time, the horizon of journalism as a whole expanded greatly.

Furthermore, the experience of directly gathering the news in our recent history, with its many twists and turns, gave him an overall understanding of newspaper ethics as a great need. At that time, the book that was written using such daily experiences as a driving force was "The Handicapped Journalists" (2011).
The human race is enjoying, the largest media revolution in history. But civilization's counterattack has also hit like a tidal wave. The media greatly distorts and undermines journalism for commercial profits. Stimulating and provocative news, news that has not been verified, and news that is stained with confirmation bias and factional logic.

Fake news is a weapon that destroys democracy and peace by spreading hatred in the lives of people around the world. When journalism began to become careless about "facts" we have its weakening. Governments, businesses, and private organizations are scrambling to enact related laws, strengthen fact-checking systems, and implement universal media literacy education as countermeasures. Some people say: "Today's world depends on the media and economy."
At the Second Vatican Council, the church wanted to identify the signs of the time, adapting them, and reforming them when necessary. With that in mind, the writer felt great regret for the church. He wonders whether the church is now not neglecting her efforts at this time in the great transition in civilization. The fact that there are no subjects on the media in the process of training priests, religious and pastoral workers, and others who will embrace the world is the example with which he ends the article. Why should that be the case?

Friday, June 11, 2021

The Way We Look Upon Life


A Catholic ethicist  in the Diagnosis of the Times column of the Catholic Peace Weekly considers some of the social, ethical and legal implications of the way we look upon life.

In 1984, the UK published guidelines for embryonic research called the 'Warnock Report', and this is what it says about human beginnings.

The timing of the various stages of (human) genesis is important, and once the process begins, there is no special part of the process that is more important than others. Everything is part of a continuous process, and if each step is not done normally, at the right time, in the right order, there is no subsequent growth.

In other words, human life begins as soon as sperm penetrates the cell wall of an egg, and there is no more or less important part of all subsequent processes. So once human life begins, the whole process of development must be protected and respected.

By the way, 'Warnock Report' is not a guideline designed to protect embryos. The goal was to decide how long to keep the embryo alive for embryo research and experimentation. Therefore, 'Warnock Report' recommends that "the law should allow research to take place after fertilization for  14 days and this was under the pretext of assuaging public concerns.

The reason why it was based on 14 days after fertilization was this is when  individual's observable traits are present. However, as stated in the same guidelines, there is a logical contradiction within the guidelines, as the 14-day criterion is only one stage between the 13th and 15th, and there can be no particularly important stage in the occurrence of life. Nevertheless, these guidelines have affected the whole world. Because, at that time, many countries could not miss the enormous economic benefits of embryonic research along with the development of science and technology.

The most powerful reason for the need for embryonic research in a formal way is always research for infertility treatment. Fueled by parents' desire to have children, childbirth through IVF is also a major success in medical commerciality. But let's put it in perspective. What does it really mean to make dozens of human life (embryos) in vitro, select embryos to implant in women's womb, and then freeze or give away the rest for experiment? First, imagine looking at a selected embryo and one that isn't. The selected embryo will now be  implanted, hoping to grow healthy and give birth.

However, the unselected embryos, are frozen or  donated for experimental use  with no interest in their fate.  This cold stare at abandoned embryos makes us uncomfortable with human life. In other words, it implies and spreads the fact that only the early human life chosen is valuable. And we can see that this kind of thinking is also deeply related in the incidents of abortion.

Recently, the International Society of Stem Cell Research (ISSCR),  created a guideline to ease the 14-day standard so that human embryos can be studied after 14 days in the laboratory. The reason is that various life science studies, including early development studies of human embryos,can be conducted to determine the causes of repeated miscarriages and birth and genetic diseases. This wonderful reason was in the Warnock Report and has since continued to talk about human embryo research as if it contributes greatly to the good of mankind, but in their eyes, human early life is not even human life, but just material for their own research. What a cruel and frightening gaze!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Something More than Revenge Required

Recently we heard in the news of a woman, a master sergeant in the military, who after suffering sexual harassment without  getting any satisfaction from her appeals for justice died by her own hand no longer able to endure the tendency to cover up the problem.  A professor at a Catholic University brings the issue of ineffective probes and delayed justice to the readers in recent TV dramas.

Around the 2010s, a large number of Korean television dramas began to appear with crime and detection as the main subject. After establishing the reality of the crime and the investigations, the dramas show a distrust for the public justice and seek to make things right with private retribution and revenge.
In a drama  that  recently ended, one character lost his parents to a serial killer, and created a foundation to support victims of crimes. He secretly acts on behalf of the victim by running a  taxi company with colleagues with similar pain.  The drama have used real-life cases that have greatly resonated with Korean society, asking bitterly about the broken justice.

The more vicious the perpetrator's behavior, and the less legal punishment for the behavior, the more welcomed the private revenge represented by the taxi company will inevitably be. But before revenge that is portrayed by the drama, we need to reflect on the absurdities and irregularities of the society we have created.

One of the first passengers of the taxi company, Marie, was intellectually disabled, and had to leave the nursery without sufficient preparation under the regulations to stand on her own feet when she reached the age of 18. Although she was introduced to employment, she was eventually imprisoned in a factory disguised as a social enterprise and suffered terrible exploitation, verbal abuse and assault. Local police were taking bribes and taking part in the crime, aiding and abetting the situation. The follow-up care for nursery school outcasts was also inadequate and oversight of the overall situation was also neglected. And few in the neighborhood  took an interest in Marie.
When the social system that is supposed to protect the weak does not work properly, the weak are forced into a serious crisis. The only entity in the drama that responded to the desperate requests for help from the victims, including Marie, was the taxi company. And when the victims' despair finally turns into  revenge  we can vicariously satisfy our desire for justice with the accompanying pleasure. But more important than revenge is reflection and improvement on the structural contradictions in society that produced such absurdities.

Also, important questions remain even after the revenge. If thorough retribution is made against the individual perpetrator, is the  victim's life completely released from pain? How much time has to pass before the victim can return to a peaceful daily life? 
What is worse if the perpetrator is not properly condemned socially and does not reflect on his life or ask for forgiveness, the victim's  life may be imprisoned in anger forever. 
It may be difficult to discuss forgiveness for the victim standing in the middle of pain, but the clear fact is that the victim's wounds will not heal at once just because the perpetrator was punished. The journey of forgiveness and healing is bound to be extremely difficult. How do we accompany these victims during their suffering more than revenge we need to think deeply on the issue and act.

Monday, June 7, 2021

What are the Young People Telling Us?

In the recent Catholic Times' In the Eyes of the Believer Column, the head of a research institute brings to the attention of the readers a statistic  that may be true of most of  the world at the  present  time.

Not long ago, Gallup Korea conducted a survey of 'Korean Religion' and announced the results. It was usually a 10-year religious survey, so it was scheduled to be conducted in 2024, but in the recent special situation of a sharp drop in the religious population and the Covid-19 pandemic, only a few questions were extracted to record changed perceptions. According to the results released, there may be an influence from the pandemic, but the religious status and perception of Koreans have changed a lot in the seven years since 2014.

First of all, the number of non-religious people in Korean society increased by 10% from 50% (2014) to 60% (2021). Currently, 6% of the respondents say they believe in Catholicism, which is only about half of the 11.2% (2020) of believers counted in church statistics, but the Gallup survey shows that Catholics are about 6-7%, so there seems to be no significant change.  In 2015, the Korean  Statistics  showed that the percentage of Catholics in the population census was 7.9%, unlike what the  church statistics showed, 6 to 7 people  out of each hundred  considered themselves Catholic in the national census. 

However, according to the age of the respondents, only 3% of Catholics are in their 20s. In the Gallup survey over the past 40 years, which began in 1984, the percentage of Catholics in their 20s was on average  5 to 6 percent until 2004, but it has halved to 3 percent in the  2014 survey and the trend has continued. Considering that the 2020 church statistics show that the proportion of young people in their 20s compared to the 11.3% of the  registered Catholics by the church's own figures, only one out of three to four baptized young people in their 20s are now believers.  Compared to 7.3 percent of young believers in their 20s in the 2015 Korean Population Census, the departure of young believers in their 20s seems to have accelerated over the past decade. Young people in their 20s who have been baptized but disappeared, why have they grown out of the Catholic faith and where and what are they doing now? Is the question the writer leaves with the readers.

According to the Gallup survey released this time, 78% of young people in their 20s are not interested in religion. This is true of Catholics also. It's up nearly 10% from 69% in the 2014 survey. If you look at the reasons why young non-religious people in their 20s do not currently believe in religion, 64% of them are just  "not interested," which is more than 10% higher than other age groups. Back in 2014 38% of the citizens felt that religion added  little to our lives and in 2021 this rose to 62%. The young people in the 20s, 70% have a negative few of religion.

Looking at the results of the survey we see that  religion does not give meaning to life for the  young people in their 20s. These are crisis signals being  sent by young people in Korean society. In the first quarter of this year's "Covid-19 National Mental Health Survey" released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in early May, the "depression risk group" in their 20s and 30s was the highest at 30%, up from 22.7%  a year ago. The percentage of young people in their 20s who think of suicide was 22.5%, the highest among all ages, up 12.4% from a year ago. There are many people in their 20s who don't just think about it, but actually try to commit suicide. In 2020, 4,607 women in their 20s were the highest suicide attempts, accounting for 20.4% of all suicide attempts, while 1,788 men in their 20s were 8% of all male age groups. Statistics on the number of suicides in 2020 have yet to be released, but some parliamentary offices warn that the number of suicides in their 20s has increased significantly in the past year.

Media and researchers say that more and more people feel emotional anxiety such as loneliness and depression as social disconnect  and economic difficulties increase after Corona. This is  especially true of the  young people in their 20s who are about to enter society. How can we, as believers, share and deliver the bread of life to young people in this crisis in the face of a survey that shows that even religion doesn't mean much to young people in their 20s who feel so insecure?