Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Declaration of Human Rights" And Second Sunday of Advent

Today is the 29th observation of Human Rights Sunday in Korea. A reminder of our human dignity and of the ways we have personally and as a society violated these God-given rights.

The message from the Bishop's Justice and Peace Committee reminds us of the  ways many in our society  have been hurt, and their dignity not respected: the plight of many irregular workers, foreign workers, the discrimination towards those  who have immigrated here, and the many refugees. The editorials in the two Catholic papers have brought this to our attention. The way we have opted for development instead of looking to the needs of our citizens and the environment would include present construction of the Four River Project. The  Bishops feel there is no justification for the project and that the effort and money allocated should have been directed to eliminating the discrimination and exploitation of the weak ones in our society--that would be a project worthy of the concern and support of the country and the Churches.

The ways we can be cruel to one another are often beyond the normal person's comprehension, such as the recent artillery attack from the North on Yeongpyeong island. Most of the islanders, having fled to the city of Incheon, are still suffering from trauma from the shelling, some with heart palpitations, headaches and stomach problems.  

The Peace Weekly has an article on a priest who provides support to the victims of crimes in his area, crimes that often result in broken families  and mental disorders that can last a lifetime. The priest recalled several incidents that needed the support of his center: a farmer who was shot by a hunter and lost his sight in one eye, which brought on depression and the avoidance of others; a teacher on her way home from school  was beaten by teenagers, leaving her whole body paralyzed. She now lives with anger and pain and regrets her time teaching.  In many of these cases they never find the culprits. These support centers provide a much needed service. Unfortunately, compared to other countries, there are too few of them in Korea.

Friday, Dec. 10, is Human Rights Day. The Catholics in Korea are reminded of  this each year on the second Sunday of Advent. Sixty-two years ago, on December 10, 1948,  the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was a big step and surprising in many ways. However, after all these years since the Declaration, it's far from clear whether the recommendations of that wonderful document have had much of an effect on our behavior.                               

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