Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Lesson from the Sewol Tragedy

Much has to change after the  Sewol  disaster, and much has changed writes the columnist in the Peace Weekly. Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the loss of so many lives, and said: "He hoped the  South Korean people will take the Sewol tragedy as an occasion for moral and spiritual rebirth."

The hands of the  world history clock have been moving, centered on the  West; we here in the Far East have been left in the dark for the last 500 years. Korea has  come from an underdeveloped country with effort and cleverness to forming the  Democratic Republic of Korea: a country that received aid to one giving aid, a country that democratically changes its leaders by free elections. We have come a long way in a short period of time. We have had many changes in society, yet we  are the only country in the world that is still divided.

The columnist, a sociology professor in a Catholic University, reviews the progress of Korea in recent history. Korea moved from being a colony of Japan, to a free country at the  end of the Second World War, to civil war, to the end of the cold war. Europe during this time overcame the walls that separated them to form the European Union. The use of the Internet has been breaking down walls between nations for some time, and Korea is still concerned with the problems from the second World War and the end of the cold war. We still have the comfort women  who were the sex slaves for the Japanese soldier demonstrating every Wednesday in front of the Japanese Embassy asking for an apology. 

In Europe after the war, they had the war crime tribunal which the times demanded. In the Far East we don't have this kind of thinking reflected among our citizens. We are still  fighting over the  ownership of an island with the Japanese. The hands of the historical clock are still not moving in the Far East.The cold war stopped us from thinking of the problems connected with capitalism. The Sewol tragedy brings our thoughts back to the  issue of greed. There is no society that does not regulate greed. We have imported the word neo-liberalism; unbridled greed has brought in the financial crisis but also the freezing of changes in the structures of society. We don't see the faces of those who are walking away with the money, she says, but the ordinary person is the one whose life becomes more difficult. The area of  public concern that is given the most benefits is the growth of our capitalistic system, when the welfare of the ordinary citizens is discussed, we hear about  waste of resources and not efficient.

Jesus is a sign of love, and we know how angry he was when in contact with the money lenders in the temple. He prepared a whip and chased them out of the temple. We should remember this scene.

When the capitalistic thinking is not  associated with morality but with greed we have many problems in society. The pope's words on the occasion of the tragedy hoping for a moral and a spiritual rebirth should be the lesson that we learn from the tragedy. 

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