Poverty is painful. Difficult even for people with strong mental powers. Many are broken in spirit dealing with poverty. Few people want such poverty. So they try to break out of poverty with all their might. So begins the column by a humanist scholar in the Catholic Peace Weekly.
Our parents were poor consequently the relative deprivation may have been less than now, but it was unbearable for even the children suffered from that poverty. The new generation worked without a break. They didn't pay attention to what they ate and what they wore, they wanted to end poverty. They pushed their children in their schooling for they knew it was necessary to get out of poverty. And thanks to that, Koreans now live in abundance.
No one will deliberately choose this kind of poverty. Many hope to get rich. But reality doesn't make that dream come true easily. Despair in the face of social contradictions makes escape from the fetters of poverty, despite the efforts expended, almost impossible.
Will many young people give up, saying: "I am a loser in this life." Many people who are not lazy have fallen into the 'swamps' of poverty because of structural contradictions and limitations. Society needs to decrease the numbers of these by providing better and more opportunities.
However, reality goes in the opposite direction. Rather than creating jobs, they take away the jobs of those who cling desperately to what they have. Rather than giving opportunities to the poor, a society that does not reproach those who live with greed at the expense of the poor and take from their already thin wallets is a very sick society.
A proper society should fight 'poverty', not the 'poor'. Millions of people wrongly think of themselves as middle class and talking about fighting to get rid of poverty brings a frown to their face as if they are being pushed them into socialism.
In the US presidential election President Trump in a mean and lowly campaign said that if the other party came to power, we would have socialism. There was a fear of leveling all down to poverty. It goes without saying that this is the same thinking in the Republic of Korea.
The Gospel is not simply comforting the poor and weak and encouraging them to work harder to become rich. Even if they are poor and live a difficult life they do not give up their character and values, do not hate one another, but give each other courage, and resolve to work to overcome the social contradictions and conflicts.
It is not a blessing to eat well and live well by myself. This kind of faith is cheap and shallow. But to my shame is the faith that rests only on good luck and material blessings given to me and to turn away from the social structural contradictions that lead to poverty.
Faith is not just an ideological ideal, memorizing Scriptures, going to Mass, and saying empty prayers. We are to practice our faith and the Gospel is the way. We are to fight to defeat poverty. That is the duty of faith and the calling of the church. We must criticize a society that creates structural poverty. It is Satan who does not fight poverty but fights the poor. It's not what we should be doing.