Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Working Towards A Just Society

Economic democratization was at one time a hot topic of discussion in our Korean society, according to the bishops column on faith and economics. Irrespective of political party, conservative or progressive, the cultural climate had been demanding more economic parity, which we hear little of nowadays.

Recently, however, the column noted, a university student taped a poster on a campus bulletin board with the question: "Are you doing all right?"  Soon after, bulletin boards in other universities and schools where filled with similar posters, expressing dissatisfaction with much of what is happening in society, and the determination of the young to do something about it.

The scale of economic development  and the numerical values of productivity have increased while the gap between those who have much and those who have little keeps growing larger. At the same time, the competition both among students vying for the top spots in elite schools and among businesses interested in gaining a large share of their particular market keeps escalating. Along with present and future uncertainties (the North/South controversy, for one) the quality of life for many decreases, with the middle class tending to disappear, wealth tending to concentrate in the hands of a small number of people at the top of the economic chain, and a large number of the poor at the bottom.

Christians have the mission to participate, the column points out, in living and building God's kingdom, and examining what economic democratization may mean for the future health of our society. Ignoring the effects of an unjust economic system on the people involved, concerning ourselves only with mathematical  figures and economic progress, is not the way we should go about achieving a just society.  If we fail to solve some of our present economic problems, the column warns, we will fail also to bring about a just society or affect meaningful change, as well as mortgaging the life of future  generations.

Seeing the economic democratization issue from a Christian perspective will require, the column says, the serious engagement of Christians to work for a healthy society, to know what is expected of us, and be determined enough to do what is necessary to see it implemented in society.

We know from the Gospel teaching what is expected. One example of this appears in Matthew (20:1-16)  where the parable about the farmer and his workers shows us what it means to be just. The parable of the lost sheep is another example that makes clear that God's way of calculating is not our way.

What we are shown in these parables is that what is important is not only productivity but providing the workers with an opportunity for living better lives. This was the standard that Jesus wanted us to consider important.

Do we as Christians, the bishops column asks, also have this as our standard? Do we have the courage to make this our aim in working for a just society?

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