Globalization is our reality. We ride in foreign cars, eat in franchise restaurants, drink coffee grown in countries most of us have never heard of, and search the world wide net for information. We are nearly as familiar with other cultures as we are of our own, and become troubled when we learn of human rights violations in other countries. And, of course, the environment concerns all of us, regardless of where we live, and we do not find it odd when we hear that some of our fellow citizens are reaching out to those suffering in other countries to help them solve some of these problems.
A priest writing in the Kyeongyang magazine says that the increasing globalization of the world gives us more "light," which benefits the world economy, but also some "darkness," which harms the poorer countries of the world.
In the encyclical Development of Peoples:"... certain concepts have somehow arisen out of these new conditions and insinuated themselves into the fabric of human society. These concepts present profit as the chief spur to economic progress, free competition as the guiding norm of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute right, having no limits nor concomitant social obligations" (#26).
Neo-liberalism, the thinking behind the drive to implement globalization, is a cause of concern to many. In the past, it was the competition with within a country that was a concern; today each country is competing with all other countries of the world. Employers are looking for skilled cheap labor and going overseas for tax relief, destroying the social safety-net within a country and increasing the disparity between the rich and the poor.
In Korea, the FTA (Free Trade Agreement) has raised serious concerns. It is represented as a win-win situation, but in a country with little natural resources and dependent on trade is that the reality? This subject requires reflection to determine the final results of the so-called win-win situation.
Who is globalization for and what is it for? This is a question that needs to be asked, and answered. Pope John Paul II said,"In itself [globalization] is neither good nor bad, it all depends on who is in control." Is it helping the many or the few?
Economic activity is an important dimension of society, but it is not the only dimension. We can't reduce everything to the selling and buying of material goods. Economic activity is meant to serve humanity. It is not a tool to stimulate the greed of a few.
Economics plays a huge role in today's world, and we often ignore its seamier side as revealed in the disparity between the rich and the poor, increased unemployed, worker discontent, and the skyrocketing debt of nation states, as well as individual debt. Hearing of these troubling issues has saddened all of us. In what direction should this process of globalization go? Will it turn out to be globalization with solidarity, without alienation? Or a greater polarization between those that have and those who don't? The answer will depend on us.