Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Land of the Morning Calm

At the beginning of the 20th century, a Benedictine Priest from Germany came to Korea, Land of the Morning Calm. The priest took movies and still life pictures of the early years of the 20th century. A Religious Sister writes in the Seoul Diocesan Bulletin about how far we have come from  a land that was so calm. Those who can understand Korean a visit to the Youtube (In the Land of Morning Calm Korea, 1925 -) would be worthwhile. Put what is in parentheses in your browser and click.

The expression: Land of the Morning Calm, is filled with sentiment, the light of  dynamic hope that was always alive. A simple, peaceful people that found it  easy to relate with others, an expression with  meaning for Koreans.

We have come a long way from the calmness of the past. The image of calmness in our society is difficult to find. The warm energy that made us one has disappeared, she says, and today we have the two camps: traditionalists and the  progressives, those on the right or on the left with harsh criticism of each other. Each facing the other with eyes of discomfort  and without any reasonable arguments in support of their positions, and  using all the power they can muster to bolster their position.
Where do we look for the reasons for this forming of camps? she asks. Is it the honest search for the common good on the part of each group or the search for personal worldly benefits of each position?  

Scriptures are clear on the stress for  harmony against divisions.  Anything  that fosters factions is not the will of God. "You shall not repeat a false report. Do not join the wicked in putting your hand, as an unjust witness, upon anyone" (Ex. 23:1). These words she feels are appropriate for the mass media of today and the lies that are being spread. Often anything that will benefit oneself or one's position is permissible and little interest or rather a frigidity towards virtue.

In the Exodus passage above in the same  paragraph: "Neither shall you allege the example of the many as an excuse for doing wrong, nor shall you, when testifying in a law-suit side with the many in perverting justice." These words give us the limits of our democratic society. Most of the democratic nations  follow the will of the majority, a healthy way of government, but here  also is a weakness we need to remember. The will of the majority is not always correct and often the opinion of the minority has no place to stand. When the will of the majority is not mature in its stand on freedom, and justice, there is the possibility of the  unreasonable use of force to justify the position of the majority. The will of God is not in the use of violence but in dialogue and the respect for the other. She concludes her words with a prayer: "God, let us not  be divided because of ideological thinking  but work for harmony in a land of calm and hope. Amen."

The search for truth and for the common good makes for easy talk, but in most cases, it is often something besides truth that colors everything we say and do. Korea has many issues in which the two camps fight for the  righteousness of their cause. Little incentive is shown to understand each other, and to find ways that will not promote violence.

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