Thursday, May 30, 2013

Helping the Young to Dream

Polarization--isn't it the distinguishing feature of our society? wonders the priest writing in the diocesan bulletin. Isn't it the reason for our many problems? Isn't the neo-liberalism brand of capitalism, now our self-portrait, responsible for the rich getting richer and for the poor being pushed to the brink, without any opportunity for change, for improvement?

The priest working with the youth in the Incheon diocese mentions that many of the young people who have runaway from home and  come to the youth shelters are invariably from the homes of the poor who have been pushed to the brink. The parents of these young people do not know, it seems, how to love their children. In the past, it was the stepmother who was the problem. Nowadays it's the parents who abandon their children, beat and abuse them.  Obviously, it's because the parents themselves have been tormented by their poverty that they have been unable, he says, to be proper parents. All are to be pitied, if under these difficult circumstances they have found it difficult to express normal parental love.

How is this to be changed? he asks. The understanding of love that we have as Christians is far from the reality that we have in society. But we can't just remain with that thought, he says. When a passenger ship is sinking and we can't save them all, we don't give up trying to do so. The Incheon diocese, since 1996, has established a children and youth foundation to help these young people who  have  been pushed to the limit. They have provided temporary shelters, short and long term, independent living centers to help rehabilitate them to begin a new life. There are counseling centers, treatment and training centers to help these young people begin a healthy life.

Why so much effort with the youth? There are many answers to this question. One is that the time with the youth is short, and a great deal can be done to remove the tragedy that could await them.

It is said that a person's values are as large as the dreams they have. In the shelters, the priests says, if you ask the children what dreams they have, invariably they say they don't have any, nor ever felt a need to dream. It is imperative, the priest said, that we help them form dreams and nurture those dreams for the future.

The slogan for the diocesan work with the youth, he says, is 'Yism' (Youth-ism). The hope is to help the young make a transparent and authentic effort to form dreams for the future. Isn't this the lofty hope that we should all have for our young people?