The Peace Weekly is beginning a series in August on the religions of Korea. The wise words of theologian Hans Kung introduces the series in the editorial "No World Peace Without Peace Among Religions: No Peace Among Religions Without Dialog Between Religions." In Asia, many ethnically different people are living together, some having been nurtured by quite different cultures and traditions with different religions. Although we have one culture and mostly one basically homogeneous people, Korea has a department-store-mix of religions co-existing,
Korea is a country where religions live together without conflict. Sociologists explain that this is so because of the balance and number of religions. But insiders say that if we look more closely, we will see a continuing need for reaching out to each in dialog. At anytime a dispute on some crucial issue--religious, social or political--can ignite conflict, now dormant.
An example would be the inauguration of the present government administration, and the conservative Protestants becoming a religious power, which led to serious conflict with the Buddhists. Another issue would be the defacing of Catholic statues.
Religions have organizations, structures, teachings, established identities, and in certain areas can't help but be exclusive; this is no reason for bigotry, intolerance and to behave self-righteously, for this isolates religion and harms society. That is why we have to meet and speak with each other.
It's not only important to know and respect other religions. We must learn to see other religions in a new way. Seeing another religion with more understanding we can reflect on our own and see it differently, making it more fruitful. The past president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Arinze, said that others could learn from us, and we can learn from them. An example would be the way other religions acculturate their rites into a different culture; such learning would help us to do the same.
The meeting of religions can do much for national unity and peace. All religions are similar in their regard for the poor and in condemning discrimination and violence. To follow this golden rule requires that we meet and talk together, sharing ideas on how to implement these moral concerns within society. There is no reason to see this dialog as difficult. In our neighborhoods and communities, we need merely to open our hearts to others and be welcoming, and in the parishes on Buddha's birthday, to send messages of congratulations to the nearest temple.