Friday, September 18, 2020

Transformation of Freedom Fighters


In a bulletin for priests one of the writers mentions how the environment in which we live changes what we see. Koreans often mention some plants that when planted in another area of the country no longer have the same appearance or taste.

It is not surprising that plants adapt to the environment in which they are in. We are seeing this on a larger scale with the change of weather and the harm being done to the environment and to all living creatures.

We are interrelated and interdependent and influenced directly and indirectly by much of we see and hear. The writer of the article gives us a short profile of three famous men who during the time of the military dictatorship suffered much with prison and torture. One was a poet, another was a professor and the third was a Cardinal of the Catholic church.

The poet  struggled in prison for many years while resisting the dictatorship. He is widely known all over the world as a resistance poet and received many awards. His attorney was a devout Christian and he told the priests in a meeting  that they should be  proud to have such a person among their ranks. However after being released from a long prison term he did not speak on social issues. He also criticized the democratic activists and supported the conservative regime  that had once oppressed him.

The professor spent time in prison for criticizing the government. He was very vocal in writing and lectures. The writer remembers inviting him to give talks to the  young people. His fighting spirit and humorous lectures were very popular with the young. But in later years his interests changed; we had a transformation for he moved to the conservative side. Even today he criticizes progress in his lectures and books.

The Cardinal performed a prophetic mission for the country and the people under the long dictatorship. It was a dark age for speaking against the dictatorship, you would be sent to prison. At that time he spoke out with a  prophetic voice, speaking words on behalf of the people and the workers who were fleeing oppression. He was  respected in society. He did not move away from the people as much as the other two mentioned but in later years their were fewer talks on the social issues and he was not as approachable as he once was. After retirement he also moved closer to the conservative elements in society.

 "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the  contrary,their social being that determines their consciousness." These words of Karl Marx do tell us something of the way we are changed by our environment and the society we find ourselves in.

In conclusion he mentions that in our old age there is a tendency to want to avoid problems and because of age we don't travel as much, life is not as hectic and our bodies are beginning to show wear from the years; it becomes difficult to deal with criticism and problems. The writer wants  us to  know that absence of problems is no help in seeing reality as it is.   

There is a saying that the world can only be seen properly from the perspective of the poor and seen from below. What is wrong with society is easily visible, criticized and what  needs to be improved revealed, they resist injustice and hope for change. 

The Cardinal  walked eagerly on the God-given path of life. At his death long lines of people lined the streets around the church to pay their respects. The writer was a little disappointed that he didn't continue his concern for the underdog in society as in the past but there was no priest who was respected by the people as much as this man, and difficult  to find  others to  take  his  place in  the  future.

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