Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bribes in Korean Society

One of the problems that we have in all large societies to some degree, is the giving and receiving of bribes. There have been too many stories of bribes taken and given in recent history. A professor emeritus in an essay which I will translate very loosely describes the evils of the practice in Korea.

Bribes have the evil smell of corruption and bring sickness to society. It is a cancer we foster with our giving and receiving of bribes, bringing ruin to ourselves and society. In Korea we have had the corruption of political power, the irregularities of the past presidents, where a person's interests were involved we have had the giving and taking of dirty money.

In the book of Proverbs: "A man who has a bribe to offer rates it a magic stone; at every turn it brings him success." For a government official the receiving of a bribe is related to his work and once received he can't refuse the bidding of the giver. Before the bribe is received the person giving the bribe is kowtowing but after the bribe is received he speaks out .

He once heard a public official say, some years ago: " everybody is taking bribes and you are a fool not to. In these times it is not only the person that receives the bribe but also the person that gives the bribe that will be punished so it is much safer." This gives one an indication of the situation we are in.

During one of the lectures the professor asked his students. I like bribes but if you give me a bribe you will have to promise that you will not speak about it before the lid of the casket is closed, and I'll only take it from a person I trust. If my receiving of the bribe never became known and I was always considered a clean person ,would God accept that?

The students obviously answered it would not be received well. I continued telling them I will tell God that everybody thinks that I am an upright individual. I have been praised by many, are you God the only one that is going to blame me. If I appeal to God in this way what do you think he will say? The students continued seeing it all very negatively.

We can deceive others but we can't deceive ourselves. We all have intellects and consciences we can judge what is correct and what isn't. Whether a person knows what I have done or not is immaterial. With lies and hypocrisy we can deceive others; I can't deceive my conscience. More over, I can't stand honorably before God . And my conscience will bother me greatly.

Money in our capitalistic system is only an important tool it is not the measure of our happiness. The Scriptures tell us: "You can not give yourself to God and money."(Mt.6:24) If we do not take interest in a life of virtue than the giving and receiving of bribes will ruin our society and ourselves.

James 1:15: "Once passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begets death." Our desires beget sin. In Lao Tzu chapter 46 of Tao Te Ching we read:

No greater curse than discontent,
No greater misfortune than wanting something for oneself.
Therefore he who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.

"Ill -gotten treasure profit nothing, but virtue saves from death." (Proverbs 10:2)
Our mission is to make sure that evil contracts and the giving of bribes do not have a part in the bright society that we are called to build.

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