Monday, October 1, 2018
As the capitalist economy takes root, rank, and order of Korean society becomes more embedded and the living harder. We have been hearing the word 'Hell Chosun' for some time—one finds it hard to better oneself no matter how hard one tries. So begins the Peace Column in the Peace Weekly by a commentator on welfare issues.
In a recent incident, we have a parent who arranged in getting the questions to an exam the students would be taking in their final semester. A parent's desire to help a child not lose their place in society.
Another aspect of our ordered society is the treatment of the physically impaired and those with birth defects. Those who are at the lowest places in the society, defined by humans, are treated as being deficient in a society where ability is given priority.
As of 2016, the participation rate of disabled persons in the workforce was 38.5%, which is half of the total population participation rate (63.3%). Despite the desire for employment, they are excluded from the labor market because of disabilities.
President Moon is preparing measures to solve the problems of the disabled people including the Basic Plan for Employment Promotion of Disabled Persons. However, social prejudice and discrimination against them still make employment difficult.
People with disabilities must deal with two kinds of suffering. One is the fact they have a disability, and the other is the lack of understanding and indifference of society. One is not discriminated because of disabilities but becomes disabled because of discrimination is often heard.
In a capitalist society, rankings necessarily exist, but the dignity of human beings should not be equated with their economic worth to society.
Pope Francis continues to make "social justice" an important issue of his pontificate which can be seen in many statements along with the pope's actions. The pope emphasized the need to reject the inhuman economic model that alienates the socially underprivileged. Society gives hope only by maintaining openness in employment, a way of granting human dignity to all. He also criticized the inhuman, cruel society that cannot accept suffering people, and share their pain with compassion.
Of course, it can be expected that the government's 'Community Care' initiative to support the settlement of vulnerable groups will contribute to a certain level of social integration into the local community. In other words, a person with a disability must be understood as a human being with a dignity.
The vested powers in society with their economic, cultural abundance, authority, and their ranking should not be setting the priorities for society. It is time to listen to the cries of the oppressed and to find the true center to see where we should stand.