Saturday, July 20, 2019

Is a Ruined Life a Possibility?

 "This life is ruined." The present craze of many of the young people: I don't have a good head, not pretty or handsome, don't have parents with lots of money or status in society... The world is tightly centered around vested interests, no dreams for the future. My life is ruined. So begins an article in the Catholic Times by a lawyer.

Is there any guarantee that the next life will be any better? The word 'next life' has its many meanings. This person that I am, this me, depends on my parents' genes and everything is decided on their looks and abilities. Even if there is a next time, I will be born with genes of different parents. I will be a different person.

It is only this one life for us. So even if you think you are not going to have an easy time and live well in this life, don't lift your hands in surrender but make the most of what you have been given, don't say you have been ruined but work to change the odds.

The writer has given much thought to the lives that people have lived. His father came alone to the South at the time of the Korean War. He did not earn big money nor did he have a name in society. But every morning, in his later years he would shine his son's shoes and left the son with some bottles of  'soju' that he was not able to drink. When I was a child, the flower garden that he cultivated with his father went along with him even though he moved a few times.

During the Korean War, a lieutenant in the so-called North Korea's  Army was imprisoned by South Korea for 36 years refusing to give up his beliefs.  After he had finished his prison term he went to an island in the South and hanged himself on a pine tree. "I am leaving the world on November 24, 1990, at 4:10 am. I have made countless mistakes hurting my party and my country, and I have to make amends for my life. I have tried to be sincere in life but left nothing but a blurry trace." We in the South can see his position as wrong but he was a communist to the marrow and gave his life to bring about what he believed was a just society. We can't say he ruined his life for he was true to himself and his beliefs for a better world.

We have the life of my friend from our school days. After he passed the government exams, he became a public prosecutor. Shortly after he was diagnosed with liver cancer from overwork and died.  My friend before he died was quoted as saying: "I didn't know what life had in store for me when I became a prosecutor if I had the opportunity to live my life over again, I would be a lawyer defending the weak and the poor in need."

A few years ago, a grandmother in her old age came from her nursing home to see the writer. Both parents and siblings held high positions both in the  South and North. She was able to earn a great deal of money from her business skills. She became the second wife of a college professor and raised her husband's children from the previous wife for 50 years. But now the children are asking for all her money. It developed into a great sadness. She gave all her money to the unification movement of the North and South which was her dream from an early age.  As a woman, her life was not happy but neither was it ruined.

Karl Rahner says that the resurrection of Jesus does not mean that a person's soul and body will be raised again with this world's history, but that your "personality and interests" in pursuing the Kingdom of God will be developed and see fruition in the resurrected life. We should not just eat well and live well in this life, but we must consider what are our interests in this life and what we are doing to pursue the kingdom of God as a follower of Jesus. With this way of looking at life, it will never be a ruined life.

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