Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Goal of Religious People-- Living in Harmony

"The basic norm for religious people to live in harmony is to respect and understand one another. We have to rid ourselves of self-righteousness and exclusiveness." These are the words, quoted in the Peace Weekly, of Archbishop Kim of Kwangju, the new president of the Korean Conference on Religion. He  is also the president of the Korean Bishops Committee for Promoting Christian Unity and Inter-religious Dialogue.

The Archbishop said that Korea is a department store-like country when it comes to religions. He aims to try to work for an understanding among religions. Remembering the conflict recently between Protestants and Buddhists, he was moved to work for harmony among the different religions.

"Korean people have a respect for  different religions," he said. "It is part their religious nature." The beautiful coexistence we have had, and continues to exist, was broken by only a small  segment of Protestant fundamentalists and should not be seen as a Protestant problem. We have to make efforts, he said,this doesn't happen again; these conflicts are not easily understood by the majority of our citizens.

What I hold with great value, the archbishop said, I should see others holding with the same value. He reminds us of the Korean expression to put ourselves in the other person's shoes when we are tempted to speak or act in a critical manner.

During his two years as president, he said he would like the religious people of  Korea to help establish a bridge of communication with the religious groups in North Korea, in order to begin solving some of the smaller problems between us.

When religious people  get involved in  societal and political issues superficially, without great thought, it can be understood as demagoguery. We need more study and self-reflection on our problems,not only to point out the problems but to look at them from our religious outlook, to diagnose and offer directions for the future.

He hopes that the Korean academic worlds of philosophy and theology will show us ways to look on our long-standing problems from different vantage points, giving us hope and a vision for a better future.

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