The society we live in presents us with the many challenges that come with change. We are members of society and are building the future. The correct understanding of society has to start with ourselves in love and harmony with our neighbors. A correct understanding of community will come when we have this love and harmony with others. There is no greater value in life than this.
A columnist in the Catholic Times starts her article with the above words and tells us that of the more developed countries in the world Korea ranks fourth as a country with internal discord and in the amount of money allocated to resolve the discord.
This discord is seen most clearly by the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor, a decreasing middle class and, not mentioned by the columnist, inter-religious discord, regional prejudice, and the injustices and indignities faced by non-Koreans living in our society. Removing the discord requires, she believes, a change in all facets of our society. She wants to see more sharing and voluntary service to the community by all citizens, and more concern expressed and put into practice by the leaders of our society.
The columnist feels that the concept of noblesse oblige in our society is not practiced to the extent that it is in other developed countries. She mentions that in 2001 the UN proclaimed the International Year of Volunteers. Working without recompense has been a part of all civilizations, contributing to the welfare of others locally and in the larger society.
Volunteer work can begin with mutual help, then taking on more difficult tasks such as coping with crises and relief assistance, and dealing with the myriad problems of poverty; this work has many faces and is not confined to the boundaries of any one country. We know that it is not only a sharing of God's word but also a sharing of the talents we have received. This will require educational programs to get people more involved with others, increasing the prosperity of society and the happiness of all. The columnist feels that the sharing of talents will be the catalyst that will change and humanize society, fostering dialogue, building community, providing a sense of mission that will contribute to living fully human lives. The light of this effort will brighten the dark places of our society with love, and she feels confident that when this effort is joined together with others doing the same, we will have lit the torch that will illuminate the whole world.
She concludes the article with the words of Pope Benedict in his encyclical God is Love. "Significantly, our time has also seen the growth and spread of different kinds of volunteer work, which assume responsibility for providing a variety of services. I wish here to offer a special word of gratitude and appreciation to all those who take part in these activities in whatever way. For young people, this widespread involvement constitutes a school of life which offers them a formation in solidarity and in readiness to offer others not simply material aid but their very selves" (#30b).