Monday, October 13, 2014

Affective Literacy

Korea still values marriage greatly, but there is much  talk about the single life and cohabitation.  Marriage being what it is in the world today, people in small groups very openly discuss whether it is not better to live alone, and if one wants a relationship to have one without commitment that allows one to leave when desired.

Because of necessity those who have to live alone, do hear words of consolation, but those that oppose marriage are self proclaimed progressives. There is not just one way of talking about the single life and cohabitation for they take many different forms. Some have chosen the single life and others have not, some are temporary and some are not.

Cohabitation likewise concerns those with the intention of marriage; or those wondering if this is the future mate or not. Some are living a common law marriage or in a long  term relationship: an option and choice of life style.

A seminary  professor of ethics  writes about these issues in the  Kyeong Hyang magazine. He uses the book Agony of the Eros by Han Byung-chul a philosopher living in Germany for some of his ideas. Professor Han maintains many see the 'other' only as the mirror of one's own Ego. The 'other' is only an instrument for pleasure. "We" is a concept that militates against my growth and fulfillment.

The 'other' is like a commodity displayed in a department store. We can buy and return it for something else: a commodity and little else. I am what is important the 'other' is for my use.

The word love is not a word that we can discuss for it is only a commodity. There is a new type of person being born. The refusal to take upon oneself the burdens that come with the 'other' is considered the new wisdom, but what is forgotten is the way we came into the world. Before I was able to see the 'other' I was in the eyes of the 'other'. When they saw my naked body they laughed. Before I was able to see the pupil of their eyes I was groping for the breast of the 'other'.

The writer admits that his faith life has a lot to do with the way he sees the 'other' and himself. His celibacy is for God's reign and for the 'other'. It is because of the 'other' he can dream and  give himself to the vocation that he has chosen. Both the single life and married life requires austerity. The married are drawn to the union of the male and female, their intellects and wills fine tune the relationship so that they can find happiness in the life-long commitment to each other.

A person living alone who denies the attraction of the 'other', and those who are cohabiting and deny the goodness of the 'other' are affective illiterates. They are not seeing the hope that comes from our human nature they are deliberately fostering a life without goals and empty: a life of idleness, boredom and without festivity.

For a Christian the cross has great meaning for us. The single person and those cohabiting need to rid themselves of their self-centered ideology and begin a new way  of seeing the 'other'. He finishes the article by telling them to forget about romance and marry.

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