Monday, April 28, 2014

A Great Human Tragedy

The Desk Columnist of  the Catholic Times introduces us to the  very popular cable Home Box Office television drama:  Game of Thrones which has just finished its 3rd year and began its 10th segment, 4th year series.  Game of Thrones is a fantasy drama, adapted from a novel which, he says, in most cases is more elaborate and impressive then most or our ordinary movies.

In one of the last segments of the 3rd year series, there was a massacre of the guests who attended a wedding at which most of the main characters were killed.  However, in a recent program the cruel killing in the 3rd year  segment  was not addressed directly and seen for what it was, but considered a breach of etiquette for killing the invited guests at a wedding.

In war to save oneself, killing one or ten, doing it respectively or frivolously, is considered self-defense. The killing of those at the wedding was an  act that demeaned trust, dignity, and  honor. One is not able to accept this shameless act of immorality.

Each society, East or West ancient or present has a moral code which they follow: which includes manners and propriety. At times, this includes an Absolute Being and  respect for life. In all the different  philosophies and religions and in the many varied societies and traditions, he says,  we have never seen undisguised disregard for the nobility and  dignity of life. The life of an individual was seen as a great value.  There were times that slaves were treated like flies, but the columnist says, it was always with the understanding that the person was not a part of the human race.

The columnist presents us now with the Sewol tragedy which occurred on April 16,  and the way it was handled. Over 300 drowned  or are missing. The students were on a four day field trip to the island of Jeju. The ferry was carrying 476 people mostly high school students. The news has been very negative on the way the rescue was carried out. The captain ordered  the students to stay in their bunks and when the order finally came to evacuate it was said the vessel was listing too severely for the passengers to leave. Investigation has shown the ferry may have been overloaded and under the command of an inexperienced officer. Many of the crew have  been arrested, a vice principal committed suicide and another crew member attempted suicide and even the prime minster of Korea has offered to take responsibility for the disaster and retire.

The columnist says the way the tragedy occurred and the response showed a lack of basic human etiquette. The parents of these children are angry for the lack of concern  for the life of these children whom they would not have exchanged for the whole world. They feel betrayed. There was according to the columnist a lack of sensitivity to the feeling of those who suffered this great tragedy. The captain left the ship before the passengers. Was the inspection of the ship done properly? It remains a question.  The rescue efforts were seen to be  poorly done. The way the news media reported the tragedy left a lot of questions; the way pictures were taken as a remembrance of the tragedy and the way it was treated on the Internet by some of the netizens  leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many.

The tragedy has been big news in Korea, and the alarm that it has caused  will hopefully bring a change to not only the way this tragedy could occur, but help us to see the lack of sensitivity and simple etiquette and manners that we are often oblivious.

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