Monday, April 27, 2015

We Can't Be Neutral in the Face of Suffering.

Memory is selective and partial. No one remembers everything.The Exodus from Egypt is the memory of Moses, and not of the Pharaoh. The memory of those oppressed is not the memory of those oppressing. People remember what they want to remember, consequently, oppressed and the oppressing will have completely different memories of what happened. 

Many are the psychologists who say the doers of harm have reason for their actions, and others faced with the same circumstances would do the same. If one apologizes for the act, we need to forget, and consign it to the  past. The one who suffered wants to remember, and wants the wrong doer to remember it too.

These words introduce the tragedy of the Sewol; April 16th was the first anniversary of the sinking of the ferry. Writing in the  Peace Weekly, the columnist wants us to see the problems we have in society surrounding this issue. We have those who want  to consider it an accident and to forget it, and get to work on the problems in our society. This would be the typical viewpoint of the wrong-doer. However, the victims don't want to forget. 

The incident is such a large one that you have people taking sides. You have those who want to forget and those who don't. Many who have no sympathy for those involved as perpetrators in the tragedy, are moved by others, the press, and the groups to which they belong. In Korea the writer explains that society is often divided into two groups and these groups are influenced by the smaller groups to which citizens belong.

The columnist mentions how one needs to be accepted by their group and feels it is because of the  difficulties of our history. He compares it to the feeling one has to buy something everybody else has. The best way is to study the situation in depth and to decide, but this is not easy for most to do, and he recommends going to a person you respect for an opinion.

However for a Christian we are helped by the teachings we have received. We are to be on the side of the poor, suffering, weak and those hurting. Pope Francis has also expressed this with his words: in the face of suffering we can't be neutral. The columnist uses the often heard words of Dante: the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.

On the anniversary of the tragedy all the dioceses had Masses to remember the dead and their families. There is no reason for politics, right or left  but to show mercy to those hurting; to remember and be with them.

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