Monday, April 18, 2011

A View of the Tragedy in Japan from Korea

A Religious Sister at one of  the Catholic Universities writes about the generous response of the female students to the earthquake and tsunami destruction in Japan. They collected a sizable amount of money and publicized the needs of the victims and asked for prayers. Pictures of the devastated regions were placed on classroom walls and the corridors of the school, covering them like wall paper. It was a heart-felt expression of their desire to help the Japanese materially  and spiritually.
Korean society, from the famous to the ordinary citizens, in a short period of time, generously contributed large sums of money for those hurt by the catastrophe. However, what was most surprising was that the 'comfort women,' who have been asking the Japanese government for compensation for using them as sex slaves during the second world war, and have demonstrated every Wednesday before the Japanese Embassy, met to show their grief for what happened. They can see the difference between what was done to them and the current tragedy in Japan. 

There have been all kinds of reflections on the terrible tragedy by those who believe in God. How can God allow something like this to happen? Where is God in all this? Some see it as a punishment. Others see it as a warning. There are also those, she says, who see it as a punishment for not accepting God and being immersed in materialism.

Sister says if she were asked the same question, her answer would be that God is not the cause of what happened. God is present in those who are suffering and, she believes, participates in their suffering. The scope of the suffering experienced is immense, but we also see the growth of love and  mercy and the greatness and goodness of humanity. She notes that what the students did in response to the tragedy brings all of us closer to a feeling of oneness with them.

Every year since 1993, 20 students from Japan come to their school in the summer, and in the Fall, 20 from Korea go to Japan. Following the visits and for many years after, they continue to exchange messages and news. At the end of one exchange, a student said, " Japan is no longer a place on a map but a country with a face, extending not only to  the students but also to their families." The sister hopes there will be more of these exchanges that will put a face on a place that usually is just a place on a map.

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