Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Journey From Inferiority to Acceptance

One of the priests in the diocese writes, in the Pastoral newsletter, of a young man he knew some 10 years ago who worked in a sewing factory. Because his family was poor, he had to drop out of high school and go to work. He hated the work and worried what others would think of him if they found out he was a menial laborer. Not wanting anyone to know, he left his house each morning with a brief case and dressed as a college student. Living this lie greatly affected the man's appearance and character, the daily stress showing on his face and in his demeanor. He wanted to find a better job but did not have the strength of will to make the changes.In the evenings he would go to a discotheque to forget his problems and dull the pain.

An overwhelming feeling of inferiority was his daily torment, and now with the desire to change his life only a faint memory, he felt chained to a life without the zest and joy he had once hoped for.

One day he became friends with another young man working at the sewing factory.This friend invited him to a meeting of the JOC (Young Christian Workers) in the parish. By attending their meetings and participating in the readings of the Scriptures, he felt his feelings of inferiority begin to disappear and learned to have a proper appreciation for the value of manual labor.

There is no denying that many young people today are embarrassed at their lot in life. They are poor, worn out, and tired, becoming dropouts in society. They are overcome by many of the evils of society: dependence on liqueur, pornography, gambling etc.--having lost, it seems, the freedom to say no to these temptations of society. Because of peer pressure, it is becoming difficult for them to avoid these temptations.

In my early years in Korea, I can recall the times when I would pick up a shovel and start to use it--but not for long. There was always someone there to take it from me. College students returning home for the holidays would not want to be seen working like a farm laborer, or be seen carrying an A-Frame (a wooden rack for carrying a load on one´s back). After all, they were now college students. This has changed as traditional values disappear and a more egalitarian society starts to appear. It's not unusual now to find many who enjoy working with their hands without any feelings of embarrassment. How much of this is due to Christianity is hard to judge. But for many Christians, knowing that Jesus had been a carpenter undoubtedly helped remove the stigma commonly attached to those who worked for a living using their hands in hard labor.

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