Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Distinquishing Between the Wheat and Weeds Not Always Easy

"I would like to go back to Pyongyang but I don't think they will allow it. In the hotel room and in restaurants they would have heard me bad mouthing the government with their wiretapping devices." Words a lawyer heard from his priest friend and with which he begins his column in the Catholic Times.

Some years ago, several groups, progressives, and conservatives from the South visited the North. One of the group was a priest who had few good words about the North from the time he got on the plane.  The first night at the hotel, the priest looking at the ceiling of the room: "they know all that we are saying."  The priest gradually seeing the way the North Koreans were kindly treating them he wanted to return; they were no different from us and was enjoying their sincerity. The lawyer told the priest how  to make his trip back to  Pyongyang easy: "Father, go into the bathroom where they have the listening devices and call out 'Long live Kim Jong Il.'   

The lawyer with the guide, who was showing them around, in some light banter told him, if he had been born in the South he would have a different understanding of the North and so would the group if they were born in the North because they have been hearing for decades education on security.

Each of us has a certain way of looking at life, a position in which we interact with others and take sides—our side against the other. Young people against the old, who they see as old fogeys and the old seeing the young as irresponsible without any ethics.

Women against men. Men looking down at women and women seeing men as enemies. Liberals wanting to put the conservatives in prison and vice versa.

When the conservatives were running things, we saw those who did not go along with the government often branded as communists and sent to prison, ignoring 'due process'. Recently on reexamination, many of those who have died and those in prison have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, with the progressive government, we have cases justified by wanting to put things right, are in effect going against the law. Instead of due process, we have public opinion doing the judging. The 'MeToo'  movement in society is an example. Those who complain about their rights are often stigmatized as assailants even the chance to prove this by 'due process' is taken away from them and their desire for justice is seen as a second attack on their victims and shameless.

In fact, it's never easy to figure out what's right. Jesus said to don't remove the weeds: "Pull up the weeds and you might take the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until the harvest..."(Matthew 13,29-30). Yes, it's not our duty to divide the wheat and the tares, but leave it up to God.

But right now, faced with our reality we must inevitably separate the right from the wrong, and the standard is different depending on where we stand—our viewpoint. That is why the 'process' of judging must be just and fair at all times. 'Due process' is the last stop to protect us, no matter on what side we stand.

South and North, progressive and conservative, rich and poor, old and young, men and women— the difference in position is a sad and grim reality of our society— extremely difficult to narrow the difference: I am the wheat; you are the weeds.

Still, the only way that different people can live together is to attempt to wear the other's shoes for a time. Selfishness and individualism is a great obstacle these days and the need to consider things from another perspective doesn't mean we agree but it should rid ourselves from demonizing the other and allow us to respect the other while disagreeing.

Jesus also taught us the golden rule: "Treat others the way you would have them treat you" (Matt.  7:12). Since we all want different things how about putting it in the negative? Don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you.

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