Tuesday, April 8, 2014
There are many cases of people giving up on life and not a few because of poverty. A professor in the field of family relations writes in the Kyeongyang magazine about the need for resiliency when families are faced with financial difficulties.
The gross national product of Korea is listed as number 15th in the world. Which means that each person is making about 24,000 dollars a year and yet there are those who live in poverty, which may get worse, says the professor, because of the widening gap between the economic development of the country and the lagging employment of workers. While the economy has improved dramatically there has been no increase, he says, in those able to find suitable work. They may be employed in temporary jobs but that does not entitle them to benefits from welfare, often cited as a reason for the increased rate of suicides in the country.
There are cases where this is less severe: when the father is induced to retire, while the children are not able to find work and the mother is an irregular worker. But such a family is always living with fear that conditions will worsen. Expenses for school, for rent and living expenses tend to keep them in debt. Poverty, for many families, is their biggest fear, resulting in depression, listlessness, alcoholism, family squabbles, abandonment of the home, family violence and divorce.
Failing to find employment, the young also find it difficult to overcome the financial problems that develop by not being employed, often delaying their marriage plans. And if married economic problems also delay the birth of children and perhaps even eliminates the possibility of having children. Though a natural desire and right, its fulfillment is becoming increasingly difficult, he points out. Unjustly, the social polarization of society has one segment of society able to give their children all that is necessary for a comfortable and warm family atmosphere, while another segment is faced with economic difficulties that disrupts family life, nurturing insecurity and all kinds of problems that will be passed on to the children in those families.
Problems of this kind are not the kind families can solve on their own. The government has to help provide employment, guarantee longer periods of work, increase the number of those who will benefit by helping them with medical expenses, welfare needs and improving public education. Direct policies have to be introduced to help the economic conditions of these families.
What does the family have to do in return? he asks. They have to make long range plans and work diligently to implement them, concentrating especially on determining their family income, expenses, assets, debts and then decide what is to be done. We are approaching a life span of 90 years, which requires a concrete plan on how to economize. The professor feels that it is not necessary to spend the money that is now being spent on a child's early education and thinks that expenditure is doing more harm than good. As a first step, he recommends that we stop spending money in this way.
It is necessary, he adds, not to be mesmerized by the advertising of insurance companies. In retirement it is not only money that we need but a friendly environment and relationships. The family is the first safety net but without a family, one is still able to make a safety net: people in the village, the church, and relating with others in the larger society.
And when there is economic difficulty the family can give strength, but at the same time it can be the biggest burden. When that is forgotten and one person is criticized and blamed, the family community dissolves. Many times the economic problems a family has are not internal to the family but caused by forces outside the family. When the family works together there are many things they can do to help alleviate the economic problems.
The professor brings up the word resiliency. When the family works together to solve their problems this is a gift that the family will pass on to future generations, one that will bring happiness to all of them.