Do I know who I am? Are we the person others see us to be? Our identity is the person who we think we are, not who others think we are. The columnist in the 'View from the Ark' in the Catholic Times, a member of the bishops' committee on women's issues, wants us to reflect on these ideas. This also, she says, can be said not only of ourselves but of the identity of the group to which we belong, or the nation. Important it is to determine the personal relationship we have with the nation and the society in which we live.
do we look upon ourselves as Koreans? For an answer, she says, it is
necessary to look at the history that has formed us. When we examine
the last hundred years, we see how we were the victims of imperialism.
For 36 years, we were a colony of Japan. We were influenced by foreign
powers in modernization. After colonization, we worked to overcome the
remnants of the colonial period, and before achieving success, we
experienced the Korean War and a divided country; the military take-over
of the government, and the May 18th Democratic Uprising. All this made
us sensitive to which way the wind was blowing, and for survival to join
the strong in the society.
Males, fathers, superiors, seniors
have been given excessive authority and obedience, which was extended to
the larger society, enabling the blind obedience and dependency on the
powerful in society. Power that came from wealth, and strength gave
birth to anxiety and fear which in turn, unknowingly, began to become an
habitual cultural pattern in the lower strata of society. She wonders
if the fear that comes from the strong in society, and the failure in
the resistance is not a cause for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. The arrogance that comes from strength she feels, is a reason for many of
the problems in society.
Physical, mental and verbal violence that some women experience in the home is endured because of the greater fear of leaving.
Suffering cruel treatment for a long period of time lowers the respect
that they have for themselves. She does not have the confidence to
support the children on her own, and if she leaves she feels she will
lose her children and find the conditions for living difficult. There
are those that believe that in time, things will get better. However, in
many cases, the abuse becomes even greater even though the hope for a
Many in society are like the battered women who can't
solve the crisis in which they find themselves. She is hoping a
person with greater strength will come to the rescue and will lead her
out of the situation. This is the state of mind of many in society. She
concludes her column by asking: "Who am I and how do I want to live?" Questions we need to give a great deal of thought.