Sunday, July 14, 2019

Cool Trend In Shopping

A few years back we began hearing the phrase 'Dangjin Jam' (use up, spend) meaning the fun that comes from shopping and wasting money on small things. This seems to be a consumer trend. According to a survey of workers, 70 percent of respondents said they enjoyed doing just that. A professor in the field of consumer science in the Peace Weekly gives the readers some ideas on the topic.

Areas where the money is spent are clothing, shoes, cosmetics, restaurants, entertainment, and liquor. Consumption of  'Dangjin' is mainly focused on items that are not expensive, and since it helps to relieve stress, becomes a compensating gift to oneself, many people fall into the habit without guilt.

This trend relieves the stress of the unemployed and the young workers attempting to solve their many stresses. This trend spread rapidly because people who do not have the finances to buy what they want can shop at Daiso, (Japanese discount store) and similar stores forgetting the drudgery of daily life.

However, this small rebellion by small people against society began to change the values of consumption. If consumers are more or less focused on getting fun through shopping, chances are they will become addicted to shopping. Consumers gain two important psychological rewards: respect from others and perceived control over spending. Consumers who do not have a way to satisfy it elsewhere are likely to be attracted to 'Dangjin Jam'.

Consumers regardless of the size of their wallets, have an absolute position in the market today, and suppliers and salespeople reward consumers for their purchases and show appreciation and respect. Also, by choosing what to buy in a market with many alternatives, consumers have a sense of perceived control over their actions difficult to get elsewhere.

Besides the danger of addiction, we have other problems that may arise from shopping. The first is the possibility of excessive shopping. 'Many a little makes a mickle' this is not limited to saving. The monthly consumption of those who indulge in 'Dangjin Jam' spend a little over 200 dollars a month.

Secondly, it's another stress. Fortunately, 42.3% of the workers say it improves their feelings, but 40.3% answered the stress recurred immediately. The effect of stress relief through shopping is very temporary. On the other hand, the credit card statement for 'Dangjin Jam' is another long-lasting source of stress.

The third problem is the distortion of consumption values. It is undeniable that shopping expresses self and brings emotional satisfaction. However, there are other ways to grow, enjoy emotional abundance, develop oneself—through good human relationships, and find happiness doing meaningful work for society.

We should be concerned with this trend towards 'Dangjin Jam' which is spreading in the market. According to the statistics, 40% of respondents in their 50s  enjoy 'Dangjin', it's no longer the problem of young people.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Nonsense and the Internet

A retired journalist writes in the Eyes of the Believers column of the Catholic Times on the nonsense that comes from the mouths of politicians. They fear to be unproductive in the eyes of the citizens so the continuance of the nonsense, one type of nonsense gives birth to another and it becomes a parade.

This nonsense talk just flows without much thought. Words in politics can give life and can also kill. That has been the case both in the East and West, past and present, and it is just the way things are.

What is the reason for this kind of talk on the part of politicians? Low-level thoughts in the minds of politicians come out of the mouths without checks. Thoughts are the house from which our words come forth. Of course, there are a lot of cases in which politicians with the slip of the tongue cause consternation. But such statements also come from a lack of refinement in speech.

Secondly, they often intentionally speak nonsense. Politicians have to gain access to the minds of the citizens. In polls, "popularity" (support) and "awareness" are clearly different in character, but this comes first before the work. It's necessary to make themselves known to the public, be seen and heard.

Intentionally calling attention to oneself with nonsense often comes after the start of new political programs or before important events such as the general election or the presidential election. This is because it not only increases the awareness of politicians and political forces but also is effective in the mobilization of support groups.

The third is due to the problems arising in human society recently based on the above two causes. It is a rapidly changing media environment. Social media as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. (as well as SNS in Korea) are all subject to more subjective 'customized' approaches than traditional media such as newspapers and broadcasts. Tastes and beliefs are more important than objective facts or truths.

The writer has mentioned a number of times in this column a fact we may tend to forget and that is those who are presenting us with the information are often more interested in getting clicks for that means more profits. And digital media users more than facts and truth are looking for what pleases them and looking for what will confirm them in their bias. England's Oxford dictionary calls this period as the era of post-truth.

YouTube is subjectively customized and global users will be focusing on YouTube in the future since it is the strongest of the internet giants. With the expansion of digital media, we will have more abuse of the media with false news and hate news

Digital media, a representative model of digital capitalism, brought new worlds to mankind with creativity and technology, but side effects came along with the expansion, fake news, and hate news. The adverse effects of digital expressionism surrounding race, religion, ideology, generation, and sexuality have already caused many conflicts,  violence, and polarization in many parts of the world.

Politicians' nonsense talk grows like poisonous mushrooms. In the past, we used to say people made books and the books made the people. We can change it today: we make the digital media and the media makes us. Today we make some efforts to complement and control the adverse effects of digital media, among which the consensus among experts is the need for media literacy, especially for the users. It corresponds to efforts working for world peace. And the writer concludes with the hope that the church sees the need for media literacy and gets involved with programs in churches.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Life of the Poor in Society

A few days ago a column was used on this blog to give the thoughts of a journalist on the movie Parasite; this time in the Catholic Peace Weekly a critic on welfare policy gives her thoughts on the same movie on the current situation in Korea.

The movie without any filters shows the breakdown of the middle class and the contradictions of society and the anxiety that follows and difficulties of coexistence because of systems that have developed. Both the wealthy and the poor are living together but a lack of understanding and even the existence of the other is hidden. The poor do not have any status in society, they lack the education, the competence the capitalist society demands and consequently 'losers', not helpful to society.

The poorest people in society are forced to live in the poorest sections if the city we call them the slums. These neighborhoods have one room accommodations without toilet facilities for about 200 dollars a month without deposit. One study showed that from 2005 to 2015  the number of those living in unsafe housing has increased 7 fold.

Of course, the municipal government has policies to reduce poverty, such as environmental improvement policies and rental support projects but they don't always end up helping all that need it. The owners of these rentals in most cases are not sensitive to the inhabitants of these neighborhoods and are only looking for profits.

Human dignity, the fundamental right of everyone, depends on socioeconomic conditions in society. Some classes monopolize profits, while others have to deal with the inequalities in society. This situation is readily seen by those who want to see it. More. then ever the government has to take measures to guarantee that all have an opportunity to live like human beings. One of the surprises is that you have Christians who see this kind of talk as unChristian, a mystery of the highest order— little sympathy for efforts to help the poor.

Pope Francis has criticized the neoliberal financial system of society. He would have great difficulty with the so-called trickle-down economics, which excludes others with indifference and without knowing it we end up being incapable of feeling compassion for the poor. He considers capitalism another form of dictatorship where the poor are not seen only profits.

Everything is competition and the weak become the food of the strong. They take away hope from the poor. What has to change is more than possessions but sharing, win-win instead of competition, a new economic approach.

In conclusion, she wants a change in the way we look upon the poor. We need a culture with an emphasis on solidarity, cooperation, and subsidiarity. In addition to housing welfare policies, the government needs to play a role in changing the way we think about the poor. We need a culture where all are respected and the weak feel like members of society and helped to live as human beings.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Spirituality of the Elderly

A diocesan priest writes about the spirituality of the elderly in the Eyes of the Believer column of the Catholic Times. He begins by telling the readers of a 92-year-old man who was a member of a pilgrimage abroad.  At the start, all were concerned about the grandfather but amazed when they saw he was able to keep up with the young people in all that was scheduled.

A growing number of elderly people live to an advanced old age: "Not when their legs tremble, but when their hearts tremble."  A professor emeritus at one of the universities is living a busy healthy life at the age of 100 and is still giving lectures. He has said: "The golden age of my life was as a 65 to 75 year old." Would not this be a  word of hope for people in this age group?

In the ritual for the funeral Mass it's comforting to say a person who passed away at 70 died too early. More elders are conscious in living their lives positively and actively.

Quality of life in old age will depend on consciousness and attitude. Desiring to enjoy eternal youth, life will be immature and empty, when we can put everything aside and be more concerned with being than doing we will begin to enjoy life fully.

Fr. Anselm Gruen the author of Twilight of Aesthetics (?) 2015, says in ceasing doing the 'what' then we have entered the world of spirituality. He also emphasizes in another book the spirituality of old age should be oriented to freeing oneself from wealth, honor, power and health, and furthermore, from the obsession of anger and vengeance.

Especially interesting that a Korean writer mentions in his book the novel Count of Monte Cristo written by Alexandre Dumas, and he points out the hero failed to win the heart of the woman he loved because it was filled with hate, although successful in revenge against those who framed him. The attitudes of old age should be reconciliation, forgiveness, generosity, and mellowness.

In the twilight years and the way death will be faced will depend greatly on the way life was lived. The writer of the article mentions during the diaconate year he had an experience of working in a hospital as a chaplain. He was in a ward in which most of the patients were at death's door.

He was present at the death of a number of patients. Some patients died calmly and at peace. On the other hand, some patients moving their whole bodies refused to die. One man refusing to die, he threw the crucifix away and was filled with complaints and grudges against others. The writer meditated on what he saw and thought a lot about what people should do to meet death with peace.

We can before death actively welcome death. We are not just waiting for death but we have entered the kingdom of God at baptism with faith and now looking for the completion of our journey.

Death completes life and is in search of meaning to the present life. One who realizes deeply the meaning of the present experiences the eternity of God and is always being born again. Therefore, aging is accepted with a calm heart, gratitude, and vitality. The elderly person experiences the closeness of life to death and living more fully the life of the spirit and the resurrected life. Is this not the spirituality of old age?

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Let Emotions Flow

Writing in the Kyeongyang magazine a scenarist brings to the reader's attention the place of emotions in life from her experience. Recently with a friend, she went to a  place for some drinks. In the basement, she thought there would be fewer people which was not the case. Because of the drinks, it seems the sounds coming from here and there were loud.

With great enthusiasm, cheers were being shouted out, bang bang sounds were heard in all directions. She turned towards the sounds and with great surprise saw a young woman coming down from the upper floor with a piece of iron in her hands striking the handrail. Glaring at all without compromise.

She said nothing but her eyes said everything—its noisy shut up if you don't I will do something— The writer approached the woman to apologize for the noise. The young woman said nothing just glared at her with her big beautiful eyes.

Even after leaving the place, on the way home and lying in bed she couldn't shake off the incident she had experienced. Couldn't forget the look in the woman's eyes. Focus without a soul, coming from great sadness, filled with anger, pupils of the eyes filled with loneliness.

She remembered her own past situations which were similar. 'Go home and kick the dog' would be a good translation of the Korean proverb she used to express her idea. You don't get angry at the one who causes you the grief but on others. You repress the anger which finally explodes one day, in a certain moment, on some person who is around.

Many are the times she has been upset, angered, and not let those emotions flow on. When these emotions are bottled up they will break out in unwanted ways. We need to do what is first in importance: management of our emotions.

Sadness, frustration,  anger needs to flow on for they will break out in ways not wanted. She has met many like the woman she mentions above with a grudge, expressed with bodily mannerisms and angered tone of voice, understands but finds sad.

The world is full of anger and sadness. She recommends sharing your emotions with others and let them flow and they will not change into harmful actions. Otherwise, we will take it out on others and vent our feelings inappropriately.

In conclusion, she wants us to express our emotions. If we don't have others with whom to share we have the mirror in the home. "I am lonely, it's difficult, it's unfair." I need to cry.  Emotions need to fly off. It's when we make the empty space in ourselves that joy finds a spot to enter and don't we now have a  place for love?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Problems with Gluttony

The early Church Fathers and religious knew the danger of eating food and drinking liquor but they didn't look upon the eating and drinking itself as the problem. They knew the place of food and drink in the Scriptures and with temperance followed God's will and controlled their desires.

Early Desert Fathers passed on their teaching to the future church on gluttony. In an article in the Kyeongyang magazine a rector of a Catholic University treats the vice of gluttony as seen by Evagrius Ponticus (345-399) an influential theologian of the times. In his book Antirrhetikos he treats the eight patterns of evil thoughts and the first was gluttony. Later reduced to seven became our seven capital sins. His treatment of the subject would be for the monks.

John Cassian (360-435?)  was influenced by Evagrius and took note of Jesus' temptation in the desert with food. He placed gluttony first not because it was the most serious or the most important but because it influenced and was the beginning of other vices.

Early church fathers saw the relation between gluttony and sexual impurity. Cassian also made much of the connection with lust, greed, anger, sadness, and sloth. He stressed: when gluttony is overcome one is not tempted with sexual vice." In the Divine Comedy, Dante put those in purgatory for sexual sins next to those who fell into sins of gluttony. 

Gluttony was divided into different types: eating before meals to satisfy the palate, eating rapidly, eating greedily, eating to satiety, picky about food, and eating too high class. Mentioned also was the fact that the way you eat is going to affect others, those at table with you and those preparing the meals. St.Thomas had his similar lists of incorrect table manners.

Christianity considered gluttony as one of the important capital sins because it extinguished the flame of desire for God and the joy of life we should have in him. Cassian told the monks not to find their joy and pleasure in food or drink. He did not think the problem was the food or drink as much as the bodily pleasure that would take your mind off the joy and pleasure that God wanted to give.  

Cassian explains in detail how gluttony influences the life of a monk. First, it give rise to hate within the community, followed by fear that can not be overcome and they leave the monastery. Secondly, it give rise to sexual  and evil desires. Thirdly, gluttony makes us prisoners of avarice, a yoke very difficult to abandon and makes emptying of ourselves to receive what God wants to give difficult.

He concludes the article with St. Benedict's rule for the monks. He followed  the traditional  teaching of the past with some easing because of the changing  times, following basically the traditions of the past.  Grams of food determined, but the abbot  because of the work load would make changes. Drink was also determined—one hemina  (ancient liquid measure equal to about a half pint), not to drink to excess or intoxication. 

Knowing the weakness of human nature the church fathers and monks by these measures gave reasons for practicing the virtue of temperance.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Parasitic, Symbiotic or Both?

In the current Catholic Times, Word and Silence column, a member of the editorial staff uses the Korean movie Parasite to reflect on life. The movie took the top prize at this year's Cannes. The title is ironic. Two families come on stage. One is rich and the other poor. The movie asks a question: are the rich and the poor in a host and parasitic relationship? Are they dlifferent?

Biologically, parasitism and symbiosis are distinguished. Parasitism is one-sided profit and symbiosis both receive a mutual benefit. However, life is complicated and doesn't follow human classification or standards. Parasitism and symbiosis are not easily distinguished. Difficult to gauge the impact of each on profit or loss.

Parasitism and symbiosis are a common phenomenon in nature. Microorganisms such as germs and viruses also live in other creatures. There are molds and mushrooms that live on old trees. Plants and animals also depend on each other for survival and reproduction.

The human body consists of approximately 30 trillion human cells. More are the microorganisms in our bodies. At this point, the boundary between parasitism and symbiosis is broken down. If all microbes are removed, the human body will die.

All living things, in one sense, parasitic and symbiotic cannot survive alone. They seem to act unilaterally, but bite and are bitten in an entangled ecosystem. All life can be seen as parasitic on earth. In that sense, humans are also parasitic creatures.

What is parasitic and what is symbiotic loses meaning when speaking about the essence of life. Life is parasitic and symbiotic with each other. In a narrow sense, it looks like a parasite, but in a larger sense a symbiotic relation. The host is parasitic in some fashion and becomes the host to other parasites. The host is not superior nor is the parasite inferior. The higher you go on the food chain of life more dependence on the lower part. Humans are at the top of their need for dependence.

The movie asks: do we have parasites in human society? Are the poor and weak parasites of society?  Are the rich taking the blood and stealing the nutrients from the poor? Can the wealthy and the poor distinguish good from evil? The strong often come across as doing illegal and abusive things, and the weak searching for justice. The film rejects such a simple view. Poor father says. "Son, I am proud of you." The son replies: "Dad, I do not think this is a crime."

We search for answers; the correct answer is ambiguous. Difficult to apply the answers of the natural world to human society. But we have the answer we prefer. There are no parasites in society. Only neighbors to get along with.

Pope  Francis called the earth a 'common home'. All life lives in the same house all dependent on our common home. No creature can claim exclusive rights before the Creator.

No one in is alone in human society only coexistence. Both rich and poor live leaning on each other. Both the strong and weak need each other. We live together with each other. It's a symbiosis, a win-win situation, coexistence, at least that is what it is supposed to be.