Monday, March 30, 2015

Searching for the Truth of the Sewol Tragedy

Learning the truth about any issue that is disputed is difficult. We make a distinction between what is fact and what is opinion, and opinion is always easier to accept-- we are not allowed to make facts. This makes the reporting of news in many cases the opinion of the writer and the facts are selected or ignored to bolster one's opinion. Knowing this does require judgement on the part of the hearers: facts are often not welcomed, opinion is less threatening.

In the Peace column of the  Peace Weekly we hear about the  father of one of the children who died in the Sewol Tragedy ( ferry that  sank on April 16, last year, 304 died and most of  them were students). The father of one of the students was baptized by Pope Francis when he came to Korea last year with the baptismal name of Francis. Wednesday of Holy Week will be the first anniversary of the  tragedy, just two days before Good Friday on which we  recall the death of Jesus.

Christianity promises us eternal life, but the families of those who died  remain  on earth and are fighting  against 'forgetting'. The father has started a trip from the pier at Paengmok Port near where the boat  sank to Gwanghwamun in Seoul. He walks three steps and bows, known in Korea as the Buddhist practice of sambo ilbae.

This is an effort of  Francis to keep the memory of the Sewol alive, it remains a 'pain point' for many: more value given to mammon than human life. The number of the irregularities involved are hard to determine and  the natural response is not to want to know, saving us the  embarrassment that often follows. Forgetting will not bring any change from before to after the tragedy.

The National Assembly, after much bickering has agreed to a new investigation into the deadly ferry  accident, but nothing has changed. The fear of the parents of those that died is that nothing will be done to prevent accidents of this type from happening again.

The Church is involved in trying to keep the memory of the tragedy in the minds of the citizens. The issue has been politicized which leaves a distaste among many of the citizens. On the recent 'ad limina' visit of the  Korean Bishops to the Vatican, the first thing  Pope Francis asked the bishops was the Sewol problem. Prayers continue to be said throughout the church to  find the truth behind the tragedy. The columnist ends with assurance that the church will continue to help to keep the memory alive, and to search for truth, and wants Francis to take care of his health.