Saturday, July 4, 2015
Need to Know History
History is not always what happened in the way recounted. We have both a bias that is personal, and cultural, in recounting events of the past.Truth of history is not always easy to determine and requires personal study, freedom from ideology, and a great deal of humility. In the the study of historical events--reader beware, is not completely out of place in looking over any period of history.
An article in View from the Ark in the Catholic Times gives us some facts about the Japanese/Korean situation and information the columnist wants to pass on to the readers. Antagonism between the two countries goes back many centuries: precedes the colonial period and the many atrocities that came along with the occupation and the Second World War.
The columnist, a priest from Pusan, mentions a photograph that was taken before the fire that destroyed one of the ports in Pusan.The photo shows the port and train station that was moved after the fire to an adjacent area. The port was where the trains took the soldiers that came in from Japan by boat and transported them quickly by train to Seoul, Sinuiju and Manchuria.The credit Japan wants for helping Korea develop into a modern country,was actually preparation for war against China and Russia.
He tells us an interesting vignette about a medicine that the Japanese developed for their troops in Russia who were having serious trouble with diarrhea, caused by the water. They asked the Japanese government for help in overcoming the problems, and the result was the medicine 'Chong Ro Hwan' using two Chinese characters that mean "Conquering Russian Pill"-- the characters having no relation to the medicine's use for diarrhea or stomach complaints.
Comfort women for the Japanese army and many other endeavors in Korea were Japanese ambition to increasing their control in Asia. Our columnist has little sympathy for historians who say that it helped develop Korea and twist history in the process.
He also sees this same thinking at work with the development of the Korean economy.They forget the blood and sweat of the citizens and nonchalantly, in general terms, give the credit to certain individuals. The work of the Church, the small groups, and individuals whose efforts are a part of our history and have walked the pilgrims journey should be signs for future generation on what to do.
As we know ignorance of history has many evil results. We need to know our history. Our young people need to know history and be able to overcome ignorance with the truth which freedom of democracy and freedom to criticize brings.
This is true also for us as Christians, to go back into our history and meet the saints who have lived the Christian life and follow their examples. They inspire us to live more closely the life of Jesus and to be changed. This is the reason we need to know history.