Monday, June 12, 2017

People Always Come Before Things

People often take second place to material goods and money, this was the tragedy of the Sewol Ferry: a disaster that speaks of this upside down thinking. A professor emeritus in the humanities gives us his thoughts on the subject in an article in the Kyeongyang magazine.

Sewol was a passenger ferry that was carrying 476 passengers most of them students on a field trip to Jejudo. It sank on April 16, 2014, and only 172  passengers were rescued. Nine were never found.

The scars surrounding the sinking are not healed but  we have citizens who see the tragedy as just another accident. Some considered the whole incident overblown; the bodies of the dead used to preach; some even made fun of the families of the victim who were fasting as just performers; one politician thought that three years of grieving was enough. Many tried to stop the investigation of the causes of the disaster which eventually did cease.

This Easter was the 3rd anniversary of the disaster. It was at that time that the Sewol was raised from its place on the ocean floor and brought to port. Everybody calls out for truth and justice but it's not rare that when it affects the person's interests all is forgotten.

When Pope Francis came to Korea three years ago some didn't want the pope to meet the families of the victims, and did all they could to prevent the meeting; some of these were Catholics. Supposedly they didn't want the pope to take sides.When it is to their advantage some readily cry: religion needs to be neutral.

However, the pope has made it clear that when faced with pain neutrality is not the position of a Christian. He made it a point of being with the families of the victims and wore the yellow ribbon.

When justice and truth are under attack silence is not an option. Preferring material things over people we are less human: society becomes hell. The young people in Korea use the phrase 'Hell Joseon' comparing the country to the feudal kingdom under the Joseon dynasty where you lived in the situation in which you were born.

All of us have to do what we can to overcome the hellish aspects of society.This is the calling we have as Christians from the Gospel and the Resurrection. The Sewol, now raised and in port, reminds us of our dullness, arrogance and hypocrisy. We need to speak loudly of what we have learned and never sacrifice people for things.