Saturday, May 10, 2014

Knowing Who We Are

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.

How 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 change remains.

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.

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