Monday, November 7, 2016

Change from Below

Many a true word is spoken in jest: "daily life is no big deal-- isn't it to eat and live together..." Writing in View from the Ark a religious sister remembers a radio commercial she heard living in Italy that was advertising a restaurant's cooking: "Once you eat at our restaurant you will be able to forgive all your relatives and acquaintances." Returning to Korea she was envisioning such a restaurant and wanting to eat there.

In October we had many events that were celebrating happiness in life. The events were stressing 'dreams', 'meals', 'happiness', 'world's happiness index', 'let's stop considering the production numbers as an index of happiness'. These were the keywords that registered with the writer.

Happiness is what persons experience in life from a variety of social and environmental stimuli. Among these would be food, clothing, and shelter and in our society aren't there  those who lack some of these necessities? Some of our sages from 2400 years in the past  have told us that 'without the necessities of life people will not be at rest.' 'One has to have enough food if we want people to live a moral life.'

In our society, a person's wealth determines their social position. According to some studies, wealth to a certain degree will determine a person's level of happiness but once that is achieved, no longer important. However, this reality is not understood by our society; consequently, the need for politics, industry, education and religion to show interest.  

"When a country is well governed, poverty  and a low condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honors are things to be ashamed of" (Analects of  Confucius). The most important task of a government is to secure the equitable distribution of the products of human labor for all the citizens.

Forgetting for the moment that people still want to increase their wealth there is the fear of losing what they have acquired and become more taken up with themselves. More than concern for others we have the building of structures of conflict.

Sister wants us to remember that we participate in the  life of the universe. When a butterfly flaps its wings the waves made are changing even if infinitesimally the waves in the universe. South Korea is a small country bordered by oceans and North Korea; the material and wealth of the country is limited. When  food, clothing, and shelter are satisfied and we go to extremes than we are hurting the weak in society. When they become sick the whole society is weakened. We are good in closing our eyes to this reality and make believe it is not true.

Precisely because of this reality we have 'grassroot movements', 'change from the bottom up', and 'change from within'. All efforts to bring about change that will not come from the top but from below and the reason we have hope to see change.

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