Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Year of the Horse

For many in  Asia the year of the snake is ending and the year of the horse begins. A columnist in the  Peace Weekly introduces us to four Chinese Character phrases (words of  wisdom) that have come down to us mostly from the  ancient classics  of China. They are frequently brought to mind as many search for resolutions to begin afresh another Lunar New Year. The columnist selects a few to ponder, specifying those persons or groups who have settled for one or another of these phrases to guide them through the New Year.  

School teachers have selected the phrase:"Leave your illusions and come be enlightened"
(전미개오'(轉迷開悟) --often taken to mean: leave all the deceptions and lies behind and see the light that shines in the world. When President Park was asked by a Chinese journalist how she understood the phrase, she answered: "To be separated from greed and illusion in our lives and see reality as it is; have no selfish motives and only be concerned with the welfare and happiness of our citizens and with the development of the country. All the rest are useless thoughts."

The Peace Weekly selected three phrases which best expressed their maxim for the year: "Not to take away, by our actions, from the glory due to God, for it is then that we will find peace." The second, "Live the whole year by the word of God." And last: "Do everything completely and with a positive active attitude, according to the will of God."

The mayor of Seoul City chose: "Put the  citizens at ease by communicating with them." The mayor feels that with this accomplished, the citizens will have little difficulty with the plans that are made for the city.

The cabinet minister responsible for agricultural issues expressed his concern with the phrase: "To fight to the death." This is because of the difficulties, he said, farmers currently face with many of the  trade agreements that are being negotiated between China and Korea.

This year of the Horse is the 200th anniversary of the war between Japan and China. Each of these countries used Korea as a place to fight for sovereignty. The columnist reminds us of the  Donghak Peasant Movement. Angered at the treatment of the country's farmers by the government, they revolted against the government which  then called in help from China. Japan, seeing the entrance of Chinese troops into Korea, decided to enter the fray, starting the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894.

This year of the Horse also has some memorable events for Catholics to keep in mind: the selection of the third Cardinal of Korea, and the probable visit of Pope Francis.
The columnist would prefer using the Korean word 'Mal' meaning "conversation" or "'words" instead of 'Mal' meaning "Horse." He concludes with 3 phrases, one selected by those looking for work: "Keep hoping for opportunities," the second, a phrase selected by those who are working: "Take advantage of the good opportunities offered," and the third, a phrase that he has made his own four word resolve,  taken from the St. James Epistle (1:23): "Be a doer of the Word."

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