Sunday, August 7, 2016

Desiring Peace and Joy in Korean Society

Everybody, no matter the nation, culture, race, religion, all ultimately are seeking happiness and peace. Even if presently it is not attained, persons do not give up their hope and courage. With these words, a religious sister gives us her opinion in the Catholic Times on some problems society faces.

Is the search that Christianity has for happiness and peace only to do with the individual? No, God has created all, she says, and his spirit is not only in our hearts but in all of creation. Consequently, all of creation should be filled with joy and peace. The worries of the world should be the worries of the Church, and she quotes pope St. John XXIII. Pope Francis is of the same opinion, and she wants to search for the hope that we have.

At present many see the condition for happiness in money, family, and health. They are the foundational desires for life, love and material goods. Young people have coined a new word to express their sadness in what they see: 'Hell Joseon'( the period of the Joseon dynasty where the feudal system determined who got ahead). They see how many things they have to give up and their use of sarcasm shows this with the new words they coin. An individual before this mammoth power of money feels like a candle flame before the big wind that is blowing.

Recently when hearing the speeches of the party leaders,  at the 20th National Assembly,  the sister felt a sense of  peace in that all was going in the right direction but the scandals of corruption of our public servants that continued to hit the press, took away her peace.

One public servant, while drunk, compared citizens to dogs and pigs, satisfied by eating, which was picked up by the press. The sister uses the words of Martin Buber to express the relationship that should exist   with the citizens. It should be an 'I-Thou', but instead, it is 'I-It',  meaning they  don't feel connected with the citizens but seen as a third person reality. She feels the whole of society has a touch of 'Hell Joseon' syndrome to deal with and it also appears within the Church.

What  is going on in society is affecting the church community and our spirituality is being deformed. This was true in the time of Jesus and in the present. Privilege and acting autocratically, satisfied with the status quo, is making us more Roman than the Church of Rome. We are afraid to leave our middle-class understanding of church. We have to understand the equality of old and young, men and women, rich and poor and be able to communicate with all. We need to feel for the suffering of others and work with our hearts and minds with nonviolent means looking for solutions. 

This is the way of holiness shown to us by Jesus and the way of showing mercy. The way of the Gospel and the citizens way of working for the good of the whole earth. Walking along this road we will experience the mystery of  'death and resurrection'  and in the process be a light to those who are looking for peace and joy.

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