Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's Respect All Forms of Life

A member of the Seoul Diocese Committee for Life in an essay about the need to respect life in all its forms begins by telling us that, although all realize that human life has to be respected, few are concerned with the other forms of life.

Life always depends on another life, he reminds us. If this mutuality is tangled or broken, all are negatively affected.

Humans have to be concerned with the foundation of life, which is nature, and we have to protect it. In the Book of Changes, we are told: "The disposition of all creation is to realize and advance life, the work of morality is the continuance of this life." Since humans live at the expense of other life, humans should take this into consideration by accepting some loss and sacrifice in protecting other life forms.

We should do all we can to foster and refrain from harming life. Since life in all its forms was created by God, the sanctity of life is present in all its forms. In Korea, we often see depicted the love of nature and experience the happiness it can give. And if we are quiet and attentive enough, we may hear the joyfulness that lies at the heart of nature. A simple walk in the woods will do or gazing at landscape paintings--oriental art, especially, is imbued with life.

Koreans seem naturally to have this attunement with nature. Ancestors, poor as they were in the cold of winter, fitted the ox with straw matting to keep the animal warm, and fed him with boiled fodder; prepared food for the magpies and even were concerned for the small insects.
This sensitivity and love for nature are reflected in their folklore and language. Before Western influences, Koreans saw themselves as part of nature, influenced by Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Christianity should reinforce this love, but being a relative newcomer to Korea, Christianity had to compete with another newcomer: the technology and progress of the west--its influence on Koean culture has been enormous. Few countries have come so far economically in so few years.

However, it will be a mixed blessing if, in the pursuit of economic progress, we forget a more important concern: the sanctity of life. The writer of the essay tells us that when we experience the beauty of life, and have a creative attitude towards life's meaning we will be able to inspire others to have the same respect towards all life.

1 comment:

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