Friday, September 4, 2020

Even With the Strike Save Lives...

Recently the government planned to increase the number of medical students and to require a majority to practice outside Seoul. The doctors are opposed to the plans and have protested by striking. A retired journalist writing in the Eyes of the Believer column of the Catholic Times gives the readers his thoughts on the issue.

On August 21st he read on the information board in front of Seoul St. Mary's Hospital: "The corona test is not conducted due to a shortage of medical personnel due to the strike." He was upset deeply. "It's the biggest crisis since the coronavirus entered Korea and the doctors are not testing for the virus...?" Should not the Catholic hospitals take a lead when it's a question of 'life and love'? Is not this their brand name?"

Of course, strikes are the right of those that work. However, there is always a problem with a strike by doctors (intentionally or not) that can bring harm to the "life of a person". Moreover, this time, the situation is completely different because of the proliferation of the coronavirus, and fear the whole country is entering an emergency situation.

"The biggest crisis since the corona entered Korea" is the expression of President Moon Jae-in on the present situation. President Moon instructed: "For acts that hinder quarantine, we must strictly enforce the law with firm legal measures."

Perhaps because of the authoritarian nuance of this statement, it was a way of talking President Moon was not accustomed to using. Because the pandemic situation in Korea is urgent, he ordered the administration to take strong measures to establish social order.

If we are not able to control the present situation we will go into level 3 of social distancing, and enter a very serious situation. Socially, only some essential facilities remain, most facilities will close. Businesses will have to switch to telecommuting as much as possible. Sports will be completely stopped, and all fields including politics, economy, diplomacy, and culture will be severely contracted.

If the death toll increases significantly, citizens are psychologically adversely affected. There will be a long shadow of depression and fear in the whole society. Much of our current life will be harmed. In a social disaster, it is the weak,  sick, poor, elderly, and disabled, that are sacrificed first.

The work of doctors has increased, so securing more doctors and more beds have become a big problem. Because of this, many ask: "Why are the doctors striking now? It's like saying that we won't treat the injured when the war breaks out."

Those who generously accept workers' right to strike are also worried about the strike that coincides with the spread of the coronavirus and even making the corona tests difficult. The doctors did not intentionally set the strike date at the time of the corona re-proliferation crisis but this was the result.

Nothing is as holy as saving lives, and this is the professional calling of a doctor. A primary task of a doctor would be "not to break a broken reed, nor extinguish a smoldering wick" in the words of Jesus. It was to heal the sick that Jesus worked on the Sabbath against the custom of the times. "The Sabbath was made for man, not man  for the Sabbath."

The degree of maturity of a society is revealed in times of crisis, and this also comes from the reverence for life. Human life is itself a noble value from the beginning, not a value that can be exchanged for a strike. To compare again with the words of Jesus: "Strike is for man, man is not for Strike."

Doctors hope that even if a strike is inevitable, they want to exercise wisdom to save human life first. He believes or rather prays that we will negotiate a strike while taking care of corona issues and critically ill patients who need surgery. If you think about it, now is also a great opportunity for the maturing of our society.

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