Sunday, August 12, 2018

Absurdity of Filial Contracts

Have we entered the times where we begin drawing up filial piety contracts between a mother and her child?  So begins an article in the Peace Column of the  Catholic Peace Weekly by a welfare commentator.

Problems of the elderly are not recent arrivals but the words  'filial contracts' in society gives us a look at a cross-section of society which was not present in the past. The writer works in the social welfare field and hearing such a legalistic expression aroused her curiosity.

Contents of the contracts in which parents ask for money for their years of care from their children is a new reality. Things are beginning to change but parents would often give all of their savings and real estate holdings to the children or buy their houses and sacrifice all for the children and in their old age be left to fend for themselves.

Filial contracts are legal documents that make it mandatory for all grown children to financially and emotionally care for their aged parents if they have benefited from the parent's gifts. This is strange;  sadly deemed necessary because of the situation in society. The meaning of family takes a blow with the implementation of these contracts. The actual numbers are increasing.

The aging of the population is a global trend. The high percentage of the elderly population is not a big concern but Korea only took 27 years to become an elderly society compared to Europe which often took  more than a 100 years. The side effects in Korea were many. 

In Korea, the poverty of the elderly is high compared to other countries, and there is a sudden increase in the number of people dying alone and neglected. Since 2009 the suicide rate of the elderly occupies  first place among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.  

Japan quickly recognized the problems of the elderly and supports them so as not to be alienated from society.  Nursing care insurance for people who can not maintain their daily lives relieves the burden on the family and provides convenient facilities with  care for the elderly in various places. It's a policy of the Japanese government to guarantee a happy old age, and remarkably maintaining human dignity and promoting family life. 

Since 2008, Korea has been building a legal and institutional framework to become a welfare state, starting with long-term care insurance and linking care services with the local community. However, when problems arise they work to fix them but leaving many blind spots in the process. 

How has the care and preparation for the elderly progressed? We should think about whether the dignity and ethical living of the elderly is fostered,  not just pledges to seek the good of the elderly  during the election period. 

The Vatican has recognized the inequalities of elderly people, which are easily exposed in society, and called for special attention to ensure the dignity of the elderly. Pope Francis also emphasized there is no future for anyone who does not care for grandparents.

In the Christian life, "what good do I have to do in order to have eternal life?" Jesus said  "Take care of your parents." Parents are  signs of God's parenthood and motherhood, allowing us to enter  society. 

It is time to urgently improve the government's care service system in accordance with the reality along with the care culture for the elderly. We need to think as  human beings before using the  absurd and unfamiliar words of "a contract of filial piety" between parents  and a child.

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