Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fraternal Charity Between the North and South

The primary reason, it is said, for the existence of the Korean military is the division of the country into two Koreas. Not only is this a big issue in politics, especially at election times, but it is related to many other issues: future meetings with the North, the North Limit Line (the disputed maritime demarcation line in the Yellow Sea between the North and the South), Mount Kumgang sightseeing, humanitarian aid to the North, family reunions, the National Intelligence Service, public security, left wing thinking, nuclear weapons, 6-party talks (Russia, China, Japan, USA, South and North Korea) and the like are all connected with the cold wind that blows from the North.

Writing in the With Bible magazine, a college professor reminds us that whenever these topics arise in talking about the North, it is usually accompanied with a  feeling of hostility and hatred. Politics is not the only area of conflict which has developed because of the North/South debate. With the growing confrontation between contending parties, all Koreans are beginning to tire of the issue.

There are things in life we can change and others that we can't. What we can't change, whether we like it or not, says the professor, we need to accept. And if what we can't change is from the past, we need to deal with that issue differently than it was handled in the past. The professor urges all of us to get rid of the baggage we carry from the past and work to change the feelings associated with that baggage. 

Confucius told one of his disciples to be careful not to transfer one's anger to someone else. This advice is not easily followed, the professor admits, noting that passing along our anger to others is a common occurrence, and it usually gets transferred to those weakest among us. He hopes we can rid ourselves of  the anger that comes from a difficult past relationship, so that we can begin to lay the foundation for bringing about a new relationship.
Statements like "a follower of the North...a friend of the North" are often used to brand another as somehow unpatriotic.  But isn't that exactly what we should be trying to do?" he asks. Being a friend to a brother in trouble--is this not a sign of our humanity? Isn't this what we as Christians are supposed to do? Being friendly with the North is not something that should be criticized but something we should work to foster.

Love that is not expressed will not bear fruit. Seed that is not planted in the garden will not grow. Liberation does not come automatically.  Salvation comes to us with the cross of Jesus. The difficulty with the North will not be resolved without effort. Instead of hate, we have to speak out for reconciliation and hope.  We do not want to transfer our anger but foster patience and  levelheadedness. This is not a time for hate but joy and fraternity. The message of restoration should be preached in the home, workplace, offices, and places of play. When spoken out forcefully everywhere, this message of hope and joy will be the way we change the static that comes from this long separation into something we all can embrace.

 "Be bountiful, O Lord, to Zion, in your kindness, by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem" (Ps 51:20). In the days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above  the hills. All  nations shall stream toward it....They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again" ( Isa 2: 2-4).

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