Saturday, July 2, 2022

We See As Much As We Know

 Prayer is a time when we acknowledge that we are sinners who cannot love by ourselves and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit. In the Catholic Times in a column on the subject: we see as much as we know. Those who know they have wounds are those who receive treatment.

Some years ago, there was a Spanish YouTuber who gave 20 euros (about 25 dollars) to a homeless person along with an Oreo cookie filled with toothpaste. He was fined about 20 thousand dollars and sentenced to 15 months in prison. The homeless man vomited it right away. The YouTuber claimed that he had no intention of insulting the homeless person. He thought he had done a good deed of donating 20 euros. He even said that toothpaste had a positive effect on him, who hadn't brushed his teeth for a long time.
The love that human beings want to give to someone is often the same as this young man's actions. There is something like toothpaste in side a delicious cookie called our love. By nature, human beings cannot fully love. This is because, in my love, often the selfish mind loves in the way it is advantageous to oneself.
Sin is breaking God's commandment to love one another. "To forsake the true love of God and of neighbor" is a sin. But a more fundamental sin is pride, believing that one can love on one's own strength. To believe in oneself too much and to love oneself becomes a sin of ignoring God's help and contempt for God. To believe that one can love as God without God is trying to become like God with one's own strength.
We need the help of others to live as human beings.
Moreover, it is a sin to believe that you can have a reasonable level of love without God's help when you enter the kingdom of God here on this earth.

So what should we do? I must reveal that I am a sinner. The Lord wants us to admit that we are sinners, like the "doctors who need to examine wounds." Then help me. Doctors can only treat people who show their wounds.
'David', the main character of Steven Spielberg’s film 'A.I.' (2001), is not a human but an artificial intelligence robot. Like Pinocchio, David believes that he can become a human too, with the help of a blue fairy. But David is abandoned by humans. David finds a statue of a blue fairy in the depths of the sea. He prays and prays to the fairy to make him human.  

David knew that he couldn't be human, at least by his own power. That's why he chose "pray." David's prayer was a plea to recognize himself as a machine and to be reborn as a human being. The same goes for our prayers. It is time to acknowledge that we are sinners who cannot love by ourselves and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit. Love is poured into us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
Therefore, only those who acknowledge that they are sinners can pray. Prayer is an effort to believe in the gospel as "the revelation of God’s mercy" and to love in his strength, like patients who shows their wound to the doctor. It is only through this process we are freed from sin and reborn as beings with the power to love.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

What Does Dying with Dignity Mean?

In the Catholic Peace weekly column and editorial, we have the issue of active euthanasia and assisted suicide visited again.

 "Please allow active euthanasia and assisted suicide in Korea too", "Why don't we have the right to die?" These are the articles posted on the petition bulletin board of the Blue House a few years ago. A research team at Seoul National University Hospital surveyed 1,000 people and published it in May. It was found that more than 7 out of 10 were in favor of legislating euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide.

Reasons in favor were 'because the rest of one's life is meaningless, 'the right to die with dignity, and 'pain relief'. On the 15th, the doctor-assisted suicide bill was proposed to the National Assembly. It is the first for Korea. A member of the Democratic Party of Korea who proposed the bill along with 11 fellow lawmakers, cited the rising public opinion in favor of euthanasia as one of the reasons for the bill. Along with the expression for assistance for 'death with dignity.

How should we respond to the argument that euthanasia should be legislated because "there is no meaning in living" or "the public opinion in favor of euthanasia is high"? The priest head of the Catholic Bioethics Institute, put it this way: "It's necessary to think carefully about whether life and its value come from our economic efficiency and the comfort that materials bring to us." Moreover, it is not justified to regard death as one's right and to legalize it based on public opinion. In February, Pope Francis said: "We should be with those who are about to die, but we should not do anything that causes death or aids suicide."

Taking one's own life or the life of an innocent person in any way is not a 'freedom' or 'right' but a 'sin'. How can we say that the act of hastening death with the help of someone is humane and dignified? It is at least an unacceptable argument for Christians who believe and confess that God is the master of life— we need to say 'no' firmly to 'false mercy'? 

If the bill is passed, Korea will become a country that allows assisted suicide like many European countries, such as Switzerland and Belgium.

However, considering that 76.3% of the people are positive about assisted suicide, an appropriate alternative is needed. Many experts are suggesting hospice palliative care as an alternative. Currently, our hospice situation is poor. The ward utilization rate is 23% based on cancer patients. This is significantly lower than the UK, which is 95%.

This year's budget is only 9.6 billion won. If the 'well-dying system', which makes the rest of life meaningful, is not properly maintained, the demand for euthanasia or assisted suicide will intensify. The government and the National Assembly should strengthen hospice and palliative care services rather than enact controversial bills. It is time for churches and believers to take an active role in improving the hospice system along with opposition to the bill.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Poor and Marginalized


The Catholic Peace Weekly in its Diagnosis of the Times column gives the readers an understanding of the work to be done within the church.

The fourth cardinal of the Korean Catholic Church was recently announced. It is an auspicious occasion to rejoice and celebrate together. 

When Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Yoo Heung-sik as a cardinal, congratulations poured in from inside and outside the church. Cardinal Su-jeong Yeom, the only cardinal in the Korean church, "asked for a lot of pastoral attention for the world church, especially in the poor and marginalized regions of Asia and Africa", and Archbishop Jeong Sun-taek, the Archbishop of Seoul, also said, "I pray that the voices of the poor and marginalized will be heard." Both Cardinal Yeom and Archbishop Jeong's messages call for concern, solidarity, and activity for the 'poor and marginalized.

What about ordinary people? What kind of words are expressed in the well-wishing on occasions of this type? On the morning of the new year, the wishes from adults are usually to stay healthy or earn a lot of money. Money always seems to be high on the scale of values no matter what.

It's a vulgar world where money is everything, but the church continues to talk about the 'poor and marginalized. The world seems to be all about money, but the more it is, the more desperate it is to take care of those who are kicked out and pushed out just because they don't have money.

He is grateful to the Catholic Church, which speaks of the poor and marginalized in congratulatory greetings that might otherwise be ceremonial. But it is not just words, but concrete actions. The key is what the Korean Catholic Church is doing for the poor and marginalized here and now. This is not limited to special pastoral fields such as social welfare.  It is important to embody the spirit of the gospel in everyday life, such as what you did today, who you met, and who you ate with.

An important key in the daily life of the gospel is for the clergy, who can be the face of the church, to set an example. Therefore, it would be good to look at how the bishops and priests of the Korean church spend their daily lives in terms of 'poor and marginalized people'. It would be good to establish a standard such as visiting a nearby correctional facility at least once or twice a month. It would be good for them to freely enter the world, not just among themselves or the few. If it's difficult to go out every time, it would be nice to invite others to share a meal together with them
For example, the Seoul Archdiocese alone employs quite a few workers at the parishes, offices, and institutions. Thousands of people work in various forms of employment. Many people are dedicated to things not easily seen, such as security, maintenance, and cleaning. What if the diocesan bishop invited these people just a few times a year to share a meal together? There will be many people who regard the meal itself as a blessing. In addition, it will be a good opportunity to talk to the person in charge of the various problems that the parish is facing without filtering. If there are people who are suffering from the heavy workload and thin wages, they may be able to find real answers to improve working conditions.

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan's birth, let's think about why Cardinal Kim remains in our hearts to this day. The first cardinal? Leading the development of the Seoul Archdiocese? Because of social influence? There are many answers, but the most convincing one is probably because he constantly tried to be with the poor and marginalized.

The world's logic is pretty much the same. Some follow it and some don't. It won't be too difficult if you start changing your daily life and begin relating with the poor and marginalized.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Poblems With An Empty Heart


Anna Karenina' is the title of a novel that is regarded as one of Tolstoy's most representative works. In the Catholic Times' column Nation-Reconciliation-Unification the writer gives us his thoughts on what we learn from Anna Karenina.

She is the protagonist of the novel, had all the conditions for her happiness present and seemed to be enviable, throws herself into an oncoming train and ends her life.
The reason was the 'emptiness' in her heart. This sentence appears at the beginning of the novel. "All happy families are happy for similar reasons, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
What this means is that in order for a marriage to be happy, it must have the right elements present: personality, learning, religion, economic power, etc. If you look at this, you can see that it is really difficult to maintain a happy married life with only the love that was present during the romance stage. That's why a   lot of effort has to be expended by the couple.
If you think about it, it seems that this rule is not limited to an individual or family. Applicable to countries as well. In order for the people of a country to be happy and the dignity of the country elevated, only one factor will not do it. Economic prosperity is not sufficient, political stability, security, and respect for each other must be added. We can see from history that a country that does not have these elements will have serious problems.
However, while watching  the movie Anna Karenina, he thought that one of the elements that a nation must have to be happy and and can be ignored is the heart for 'reconciliation' and 'peace'.
If there is an idea that has been entrenched in our people for a long time, was a quote from a General during the Spring and Autumn Warring States period of Chinese history. "Even if a country is strong, if it loves war, it will surely perish, and even if the world is peaceful, if it forgets war, it will always be in danger."
As a country that is heavily influenced by outsiders like Korea, there is no choice but to continuously prepare for security. However, we must never forget that the reason and purpose of this security is the establishment of 'reconciliation' and 'peace'. 
As you can see from the 'emptiness' in Anna Karenina’s heart, what humans who want happiness can easily forget is the heart that seeks 'reconciliation' and 'peace'.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Asian Hate Speech


The internet site: Here/Now had an article by a woman with a doctorate on inequality and discrimination among social minorities. She introduces the visitors to the  "Legacy of Awakening and Solidarity Left by Vincent Chin's Death."

For Asian Americans in the United States, June 23 is a special day. Asian-American groups have organized a number of events this year to remember and commemorate the day. 

Forty years ago, June 23, 1982, was the day that Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American, was murdered because of  racial hatred. Racism against Asian Americans in the United States is not just a thing of the past. However, his tragic death is especially remembered by Asian Americans because it was a historical milestone that helped the Asian members to unite against racism.

On June 19, 1982, at a pub in Detroit, Michigan, 27-year-old Vincent Chin was having a party to celebrate his coming wedding.  A former supervisor of the American automaker Chrysler, and his  son, had been fired from the same company, they had an argument with Vincent Chin. 

At that time, the American automobile industry was hit hard by the advancement of Japanese automobiles. Detroit, the center of the American auto industry, was struggling with massive layoffs. The father and son  are said to have insulted Chin, calling him "Jap". He was of Chinese descent, but was mistaken for Japanese. They pulled out baseball bats from their cars and chased and beat Vincent Chin, who was running away. Chin died four days later, on the 23rd. 

The father and son were  initially charged with murder, but was later downgraded to negligent manslaughter. The following year, a district court sentenced both of them to  three years probation and a fine of $3,000 each. The absurd ruling led to protests by Asian Americans across the country. This protest was the moment when people from different countries, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino, gathered together for the first time and confirmed that they were in the same situation as all other Asians. 

Until then, the Chinese, Japanese, Indians, or Filipinos in the United States had been thought of as distinct groups. Although in society they were collectively treated as Asians, distinct from whites and blacks, each was a community with a different culture and background. But Vincent Chin was killed not because he was Chinese, but because he was Asian. Regardless of their culture and background, they were discriminated against as Asians in America. 

The murder of Vincent Chin was the first time they realized that they were a community of Asian descent. Two weeks after the court ruling, they formed the first ever pan-Asian civic group, American Citizens for Justice. The group launched national protests and petitioned the federal government and filed a case for violating civil rights laws. As a result, for the first time in U.S. history, a case involving an Asian American in violation of the Civil Rights Act was brought to trial in a federal court. The two perpetrators, the son in the case was acquitted, and the father  was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Then, on appeal, the father was also acquitted. 

Hate crimes spread like poisonous mushrooms during the COVID-19 era The murder of Vincent Chin was blocked by the racist judicial system and justice was not realized. However, the awakening and solidarity of Asian Americans remained an important asset. The legacy extends beyond Asian descent into an attempt to unite against racism with African and Latino Americans. The movement of African Americans and Asians in solidarity in the recently actively developed 'Black Lives Matter' and 'Stop Asian Hate' movements shows this flow of solidarity well.

Hate crimes against Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic are continuing unabated in the United States and Europe. Korean Americans have been and are still victims of discrimination and hatred since the 1992 Los Angeles riots. In March 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, there was a mass shooting targeting Asian descent, which killed 8 people, including 4 Korean immigrants. Asian hatred is towards us not a distant country.

Not long ago, BTS, at the invitation of the White House of the United States, urged the end of racism and hate. However, we still stand by as if  it's someone else's house.  We are not paying attention to hate and discrimination towards Southeast Asian migrant workers, compatriots from China, marriage migrants in Southeast Asia, and dark-skinned refugees. 

Furthermore, we took part in the anti-Chinese hatred, using the corona pandemic as an excuse. However, when we go abroad, we are just Asians with ‘yellow skin’ that are no different from Chinese or Vietnamese. We are only 'people  of color’ that are no different from blacks.  This is why we must also stand in solidarity against the global anti-Asian hate speech.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

First Step is Listening.


"Thus the Church, at once a visible assembly and a spiritual community, goes forward together with humanity and experiences the same earthy lot which the world does.She serves as a leaven and as a  kind of soul for human society as it is to be renewed in Christ and transformed into God's family" (Pastoral Constitution # 40). In the Catholic Peace Weekly a Catholic University professor  begins her column with the above quote.

The Second Vatican Council, "speaking" to the world, says about the role of the Church in the world: This expression appears in the last chapter (Chapter 4) of the first part of the Charter for Pastoral Affairs, 'Human vocation and the Church'. The church, which wants to exist as the soul of the world, does not introduce itself to the world from the beginning, saying, "I am the power that makes you live."

 In fact, this is the first greeting of the Council. "Joy and hope, sorrow and anguish, for the present day, especially for the poor and suffering, it is the joy and hope, the sorrow and anguish of the disciples of Christ. There is nothing truly human that does not resonate with the believer" (1). In dealing with human dignity, the new man, true man, and perfect man, Christ, is introduced in the last paragraph (No. 12), and when dealing with the human community, it is only in the last item of Chapter 2 that Christ is proposed as the model and principle of the human community. (No. 32) This is the method adopted not only by the Pastoral Charter but also by the Second Vatican Council, the inductive methodology. The use of this method is evident in the literature of later popes, especially Pope Francis. 

 Even more interesting is that the Council acknowledged that the Church has something to learn from the world, not just to hear the voice of the world and to shine it with the light of the Gospel to suggest the Church's answers (Nos. 41-43). Just as recognition as leaven helps the world, so the Church does not know how much it has been helped in the history and development of mankind (44). ! However, it is too simplistic and even light-hearted to evaluate that the church has become “humbling” when it acknowledges that the church receives help as well as giving it. 

This is related to the fact that the Council declared that God was both Savior and Creator, and thus not only working in the Church, but in a mysterious providence, governing the passage of time and renewing the world, that the world was present in development (26).

After all, 'hearing' is the first step the church must take to be the soul of the world and to proclaim the gospel to the world. And this hearing must be done not only toward the world, but also within the church. In fact, if there is no hearing in the church, how can we say to the world that we will listen? 

The Chinese character for holiness,   (sung) originally meant "the ability to hear clearly with the ear", and religiously, it is said to have been expanded to mean "to hear the heavenly revelations or the voice of God." 

The people of God are moving toward holiness, which is in fact God Himself. This journey, the first step of synodalitas, is also listening. On this journey where shepherds and believers become one, the shepherd listens to the believers and the believers walk towards the same place while listening to the shepherd's voice. 

Through this mutual listening, what we ultimately want to hear is the voice of the Holy Spirit. Hearing is the first step in life in the church, in fulfilling its mission, in order to become a soul in the world, and in fact, it is like a matrix in which that life and activity take place. ‘Listening’ makes many problems easier than you think. If we listen first, won't the world also listen to our voices about Christ? This expectation may seem overly  romantic, but did not the council propose it in this way and expect its practice within the community of faith?

Monday, June 20, 2022

Zero Waste Era

The Catholic Times had an article on ways to maintain a zero-waste life. The article begins with a report on the drilling of a land-filled area where they found fossilized plastic some 12 meters below the surface that had been buried over 30 years.  Four meters underground, a plastic wrapper for ice cream sticks came out. As they dug further, colorful vinyl, clothes, fertilizer bags, and Styrofoam appeared one after another like fossils. The land has now become a forest, but beneath the surface was unrotted thrash.

The Zero Waste movement aims to promote reducing the amount of material we throw away as much as possible by using the products of one system for use in another. 'Zero' does not mean extreme restraint in consumption, but to reflect on what we consume.
A consensus on the meaning and value of 'zero waste' seems to have been established to some extent in Korea. In a survey conducted by researchers at the University of Seoul from July to September last year, the majority of respondents, 74%, said they were interested in environmental issues. Only 4% said they were not interested. However, half of the respondents did not know the rules for practicing zero waste.

 'Rejection' is the beginning of waste reduction. The zero-waste movement started in 2001 when the California Comprehensive Waste Management Committee established a zero-waste policy goal. Ten years later, the concept entered the daily life of citizens when the New York Times reported Bea Johnson's blog 'Zero Waste Home. In this blog, Johnson documented her life reducing waste with her two children. Since then, the zero-waste movement has spread in the United States and Europe. In Korea, interest in the Zero Waste movement increased as the 'garbage crisis' became a social problem in 2018.
Johnson has summarized the principles required for zero waste practices into the 5Rs: Refuse (rejecting), Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. 'Rejecting' is the starting point of zero waste. They do not accept disposable cups or straws and refuse to use plastic spoons or wooden chopsticks. Furthermore, it should be possible to refuse non-essential souvenirs, shopping bags, tumblers, umbrellas, and towels... This attitude is also directly related to 'reduce', 'reuse', and 'recycle'.
Reuse and recycling go beyond personal practice and are linked to the concept of 'sharing'. Individual practice must lead to community and social practice. In a country where zero waste has not yet become common, activists trying to reduce waste strive to spread the spirit and practice of the waste reduction movement.
The last principle of the 5Rs, 'rotting', is the most unfamiliar and difficult to practice. In Korea, rotting is the most difficult task because most people live in apartment buildings and other multi-unit dwellings. On the other hand, residents of single-family homes, in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, in areas that are not densely populated, "rotting" as the final task of zero-waste practice is possible. This means that you have to choose 'perishable' items in your purchases.

Korea has advanced to be one of the leading countries in recycling. Seoul has opened 'Zero markets' where  'You fill your own containers', no packaging, and pay by weight of the product. In the making for a greener and cleaner environment, Korea had done much and continues to find ways to increase its efforts in sustainability—meeting our needs and permitting future generations to meet their needs.