Friday, January 27, 2012

Privilege of Helping Others

The 29th of January is Overseas Assistance Sunday, and both the Catholic Times and Peace Weekly interviewed Han Pia, who has made it her life's work to be concerned with others. She wears many hats, and recently became the first  president of the Korean Global Citizenship School  of World Vision.

She was selected by college students as the person they most respected in Korea. She has been considered a role model for the young and a good example on how to be an effective leader.  Her book March outside the Atlas has sold over a million copies and is considered one of the most influential books in Korea during the last 10 years. Instead of a 'global village,' she prefers to use the term 'global home,' which she feels is more conducive to getting us to see beyond our own country borders.

She has traveled around the world and written travel books on her experiences in the remote areas of many countries, and has participated in relief operations which she has written up in her books. During vacation periods, she travels to different Korean cities to give talks on poverty, human rights, multiculturalism, and the environment. Asked why she became a focus of  interest to so many, especially the young, she answers: "I was a nobody, without even a calling card. I'm surprised myself and anxious about what  has happened. I work  to the best of my ability. But isn't it right that I do not yet know what my limit is?" she asks in return. Expressions like these are what make her popular with the young.

Where are those persons without fear, consternation, or loneliness? she asks.  When we go on a road we haven't traveled before, there are no guidelines; we have to put ourselves in the hands of God. The more we are afraid and perplexed, the more we move closer to God.

In her lectures, she poses the question: why do we have two hands?  She answers that with one hand we take care of our needs and with the other the needs of others. It is not difficult to say nice things about sharing and love, and we can be moved by horrible scenes, but often it stops there. Is there any meaning to this kind of attitude? Finding meaning, she says, requires that we move our legs and our hands.

Last year the interviewer said that Catholics, on average, gave about 3 dollars for aid overseas. Pia says that the average meal in Korea costs about 5 dollars; 3 dollars are  not enough even for a full meal.  She hopes we will see a difference in the offerings in the future.

She hopes the readers of the Catholic Times and Peace Weekly will remember why we have two hands. She also hopes that all Catholics will realize they are conduits of God's blessings to those they meet. To think only of ourselves, she reminds us, is a shabby way to live.

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