Monday, June 21, 2021

Corona Virus and Migrants

A lawyer in the Catholic Peace Weekly in Current Diagnosis gives us his opinion on the controversy surrounding migrants.

He lived abroad for a while when he was young. He hung out with students from dozens of countries and their nationality or race didn't matter. Migrants, a politically underrepresented vulnerable group caught his eye. Human rights activities draw attention to more vulnerable places, both at home and abroad. However, migrants already exist together with us in the same space and time, shouldn't we be able to see and accept them as they are?


According to the Ministry of Justice statistics, there are now about 2 million foreigners residing in Korea. Nearly 200,000 foreigners have married Koreans and there are about the same number of international students.  


There is a question that keeps on coming to mind when looking at migrants. Will they be viewed as a part of 'us', especially the socially underprivileged and vulnerable, or as 'others' who are trying to take what is ours? What kind of community do we want?


About 10 years ago when the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination deliberated on the human rights situation in Korea we heard these words. The government announced that South Korea is a "single-ethnic" country, has little "mixed blood" and that racism is rarely a problem because it is mostly "pure blood." U.N. experts were shocked by expressions such as "pure blood" reminiscent of German Nazis. 


Inequality in access to information has not been overcome, and hate discrimination has spread. Information in foreign languages was limited, and discriminatory views on not only early Chinese immigrants but also migrants as a whole threatened jobs. Poor unregistered migrant detention facilities are always exposed to the risk of Covid-19 and self-isolation is impossible for migrants in vulnerable residential conditions. Some measures are being taken to extend the length of stay and suspend the departure deadline, but overall, there are insufficient measures to cope with the difficulties in living.

The executive order for the mandatory inspection of all foreign workers, Covid-19, issued by many local governments, is a case in which prejudice and preconceptions about migrants have been revealed in extreme forms. 

The Covid-19 crisis is certainly an opportunity for community reflection. We are at a crossroads whether to create a healthy community of solidarity, cooperation, respect, and consideration or to live in a society in which the fittest survive and each goes their own way through maximum exclusion. A society is said to be defined by what it excludes. What kind of society do we dream of? Covid-19 shows us why migrants should be part of 'us'.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

What is first In Pastoral Work with the Young?


Young people, bodily, mentally are at the peak of their growth and maturity. A priest with a lot of contact with the young in the Kyeongyang magazine gives his ideas of what should be first in pastoral work with the young. The word used in Korea for young people has the meaning of verdant, vigorous, and full of life.

However, nowadays the writer finds these characteristics of the young missing. In the talk about the young often is heard the three dreams they have given up: romance, marriage, and childbirth. This has increased to the abandonment of two more dreams: house and career. And this continues with the sacrifice of hope, hobbies, and relationships and they have added health and appearance. You find this abandonment in the 20s but more so after the 30s.

The church is aging faster than society and those from 35-45 are extremely valuable members of the community. It's a generation that has to inherit the church from the adults who laid the foundation for the Korean Catholic Church, and a generation that has to prove to young people in their 20s and their children that to live as Christians is different from the world and environment of the past.

This age group's Mass attendance is low and those who have left the community are high. But this does not allow us to simply say they have no interest in the faith life. Those that the writer has met still feel a need for  God. The world in which they live is changing so rapidly and in so many ways that they are continuing to search.

The church has to show them a merciful God. We need to listen to them not at the church but where they are and hear what they are doing and understand their situation. Jesus also went to those who were hurting to give them peace.

The first step is to pray for the young people. To understand them, and to make the community of faith a place where they experience the warmth of Christ's presence. We need to make the community a place where the young people feel the strength and consolation of Christ.

He wonders whether the foundational story of our religion is really known by everyone. We need to reflect on this reality in dealing with young people.  

"God will wipe away every tear from their eyes", Rev. 23:3. In this article, the writer hopes God's words will give some rest to the young people doing their best where ever they are.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

How Responsible Are We for Fake News?

False news, fake news, is pervasive in society; always present but in modern times the purveyors of the news are beyond counting. Emotional reaction to the false, often because of its novelty, spreads fast and does great harm. In the Peace Weekly column In the Eyes of a Priest, the writer shows us some of the harm.

Around 2010 a website appeared with the object of making known the "falsehood" of a famous vocalist's claim to have graduated from a well-known American university. They made known the 'reasons' why this was a false claim. The singer celebrity made clear that his graduation was no fabrication. But the public outcry did not cease. Finally, with all the nasty comments and suffering he had to undergo he sued the management of the website.

No matter what evidence the celebrity brought to their attention it was always attacked for being protected by authorities, his evidence was all fabricated no matter what evidence was presented. At one time there were over 200 thousand members of the website.

The degree of attention that was given to the case was shown when a member of the Attorney General Office went before the National Assembly promising that there would be a strict investigation of the case. After three years those responsible for the website were sentenced for spreading false information, But even after this was made known there were a few who continued and were not able to give up. This is a good example of what is meant by Confirmation Bias.

Recently we had a case of a young college student who died with much of the aspects associated with the vocalist celebrity. Although there was a thorough investigation of the circumstances by the police and medical authorities, saying there was no evidence of murder. However, rather than rational counterarguments, provocative and emotional arguments continued. 

Some media and one-person media even actively manipulated facts and spread them without verification. The media world becomes more and more melodramatic because of its desire to become famous and make money easily from advertising revenue.

"Being critical in this regard is not about demonizing the internet, but is rather an incentive to greater discernment and responsibility for contents both sent and received. All of us are responsible for the communications we make, for the information we share, for the control that we can exert over fake news by exposing it. All of us are to be witnesses of the truth: to go, to see, and to share."This is a quote from Pope Francis's message on Communication Day May 16.

In a considerable number of media and one-person media, responsibility disappears, and narcissism only increases, and people who consume news and video produced in this way also have a serious confirmation bias in the more provocative content. 

Clearly, drastic and structural reforms in the media market are also needed. We need to change the media ecosystem that makes money by clicking. However, let's think about what individuals can do together with institutional improvement. If all were careful in what we clicked and the comments we make and realized the control that we have, wouldn't we see a change?

As healthy consumers of the media, we can make wise decisions on where to click or not click. Would it not be a good practice to skip the provocative titles on my computer and phone?



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Ways of Reducing Irritation and Nagging


In his column in the Catholic Times, a priest psychologist and counselor explains the way of diminishing our annoyances that come to us daily.

There are many varied ways of becoming annoyed in life. People get annoyed with their husbands or children, their bosses or subordinates, or themselves. Why are you annoyed? It's common sense that you get irritated when you're physically overloaded.

It's because of psychological causes that I'm annoyed even though I'm in good physical condition. In other words, irritation is caused when the level of expectation is too high. Expectations are needed for a person to live a healthy life. Especially for young children, the expectation given by adults is the same as essential nutrients.

Children who grow up with expectations live successful lives as adults, but those who don't can't bloom and will wither and die. But like anything else, excessive expectation kills both oneself and others.

It's like giving too much water to grow quickly. Koreans expect a lot from other people.

The psychological aftereffects of having frequent marital fights after marriage, even divorce, and being enthusiastic when the new pastor comes to the parish, and bored with him shortly after: "When will he leave?" are the psychological aftereffects of expectation that are too high.

But why does it give birth to irritation and nagging? It's because of the expectations and the way they push themselves to achieve them.

Sometimes he sees people on TV bragging and saying that they live by whipping themselves. all the time. At first glance, one may think: "They are really living with great zeal" but he feels sorry for them since they are treating themselves like a cow or a horse because of their high expectations.

People who push themselves like this demand the same thing from others. It's to live like a cow. This level of over-expectation is worse for people with compulsion problems. These people look like adults from afar, but living together with them one gets tired.

Then how should I live to reduce irritation and live comfortably? It's simple, lower your expectations. You make a list of expectations for the other person and erase one by one that the other person cannot do. Then the nagging decreases and you let it go, saying: "Yes, you live your own way."

This is true of oneself, too. You make a list of expectations that you want from yourself and erase the unrealistic ones.  During this process, the burden is reduced one by one.

And that's when people start coming close. It's because I feel comfortable with myself. If you feel like people are avoiding you while living zealously one should check if there is anything wrong with your life.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Need For Media Literacy

Just because you think you know politics doesn't mean you do. Also, being religious doesn't necessarily mean that you are well versed in theology. So begins the column in the Catholic News and the need for education in media literacy for pastoral workers by a retired journalist and teacher in media communication.

He worked for almost 30 years as a journalist, desk, and production manager. He admits that he has still a lot to learn about journalism. He realized this after retiring.
After his retirement, he worked as a full-time member of the Korean Newspaper Ethics Committee. The Committee conducts daily post-verification of newspapers and Internet newspapers published by members of the Korea Newspaper Association. Depending on the results of the verification, there are various levels of disciplinary action such as cautions and warnings. It is a voluntary ombudsman in the newspaper industry.

(In modern democracies that respect the constitutional value of freedom of expression, they cannot verify in advance. Of course, exceptions are made in emergencies such as military revolutions. After any media such as newspapers, broadcasting, publications, and movies are made public, the industry starts self-regulation. In the case of the Korea Communications Standards Commission, it is an institution that examines what has been made public. If a person violates the current law or brings court action,  the prosecution, the court, and the Press Arbitration Commission will verify and take necessary measures.)

What the newspaper ethics committee uses as the yardstick for post-verification are the newspaper ethics code and ethical practice. Newspaper ethics is a rule of journalism that has been established worldwide throughout modern times. The ethics of the modern media such as broadcasting ethics and Internet ethics are based on newspaper ethics.

Every day, he opens his eyes to journalistic theory and the ethical reality of our newspaper media by reviewing newspaper ethics clauses. When he began as a reporter he had no time to pay attention to "other things". He was immersed in media practice such as gathering, writing, and producing. Compared to that time, the horizon of journalism as a whole expanded greatly.

Furthermore, the experience of directly gathering the news in our recent history, with its many twists and turns, gave him an overall understanding of newspaper ethics as a great need. At that time, the book that was written using such daily experiences as a driving force was "The Handicapped Journalists" (2011).
The human race is enjoying, the largest media revolution in history. But civilization's counterattack has also hit like a tidal wave. The media greatly distorts and undermines journalism for commercial profits. Stimulating and provocative news, news that has not been verified, and news that is stained with confirmation bias and factional logic.

Fake news is a weapon that destroys democracy and peace by spreading hatred in the lives of people around the world. When journalism began to become careless about "facts" we have its weakening. Governments, businesses, and private organizations are scrambling to enact related laws, strengthen fact-checking systems, and implement universal media literacy education as countermeasures. Some people say: "Today's world depends on the media and economy."
At the Second Vatican Council, the church wanted to identify the signs of the time, adapting them, and reforming them when necessary. With that in mind, the writer felt great regret for the church. He wonders whether the church is now not neglecting her efforts at this time in the great transition in civilization. The fact that there are no subjects on the media in the process of training priests, religious and pastoral workers, and others who will embrace the world is the example with which he ends the article. Why should that be the case?

Friday, June 11, 2021

The Way We Look Upon Life


A Catholic ethicist  in the Diagnosis of the Times column of the Catholic Peace Weekly considers some of the social, ethical and legal implications of the way we look upon life.

In 1984, the UK published guidelines for embryonic research called the 'Warnock Report', and this is what it says about human beginnings.

The timing of the various stages of (human) genesis is important, and once the process begins, there is no special part of the process that is more important than others. Everything is part of a continuous process, and if each step is not done normally, at the right time, in the right order, there is no subsequent growth.

In other words, human life begins as soon as sperm penetrates the cell wall of an egg, and there is no more or less important part of all subsequent processes. So once human life begins, the whole process of development must be protected and respected.

By the way, 'Warnock Report' is not a guideline designed to protect embryos. The goal was to decide how long to keep the embryo alive for embryo research and experimentation. Therefore, 'Warnock Report' recommends that "the law should allow research to take place after fertilization for  14 days and this was under the pretext of assuaging public concerns.

The reason why it was based on 14 days after fertilization was this is when  individual's observable traits are present. However, as stated in the same guidelines, there is a logical contradiction within the guidelines, as the 14-day criterion is only one stage between the 13th and 15th, and there can be no particularly important stage in the occurrence of life. Nevertheless, these guidelines have affected the whole world. Because, at that time, many countries could not miss the enormous economic benefits of embryonic research along with the development of science and technology.

The most powerful reason for the need for embryonic research in a formal way is always research for infertility treatment. Fueled by parents' desire to have children, childbirth through IVF is also a major success in medical commerciality. But let's put it in perspective. What does it really mean to make dozens of human life (embryos) in vitro, select embryos to implant in women's womb, and then freeze or give away the rest for experiment? First, imagine looking at a selected embryo and one that isn't. The selected embryo will now be  implanted, hoping to grow healthy and give birth.

However, the unselected embryos, are frozen or  donated for experimental use  with no interest in their fate.  This cold stare at abandoned embryos makes us uncomfortable with human life. In other words, it implies and spreads the fact that only the early human life chosen is valuable. And we can see that this kind of thinking is also deeply related in the incidents of abortion.

Recently, the International Society of Stem Cell Research (ISSCR),  created a guideline to ease the 14-day standard so that human embryos can be studied after 14 days in the laboratory. The reason is that various life science studies, including early development studies of human embryos,can be conducted to determine the causes of repeated miscarriages and birth and genetic diseases. This wonderful reason was in the Warnock Report and has since continued to talk about human embryo research as if it contributes greatly to the good of mankind, but in their eyes, human early life is not even human life, but just material for their own research. What a cruel and frightening gaze!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Something More than Revenge Required

Recently we heard in the news of a woman, a master sergeant in the military, who after suffering sexual harassment without  getting any satisfaction from her appeals for justice died by her own hand no longer able to endure the tendency to cover up the problem.  A professor at a Catholic University brings the issue of ineffective probes and delayed justice to the readers in recent TV dramas.

Around the 2010s, a large number of Korean television dramas began to appear with crime and detection as the main subject. After establishing the reality of the crime and the investigations, the dramas show a distrust for the public justice and seek to make things right with private retribution and revenge.
In a drama  that  recently ended, one character lost his parents to a serial killer, and created a foundation to support victims of crimes. He secretly acts on behalf of the victim by running a  taxi company with colleagues with similar pain.  The drama have used real-life cases that have greatly resonated with Korean society, asking bitterly about the broken justice.

The more vicious the perpetrator's behavior, and the less legal punishment for the behavior, the more welcomed the private revenge represented by the taxi company will inevitably be. But before revenge that is portrayed by the drama, we need to reflect on the absurdities and irregularities of the society we have created.

One of the first passengers of the taxi company, Marie, was intellectually disabled, and had to leave the nursery without sufficient preparation under the regulations to stand on her own feet when she reached the age of 18. Although she was introduced to employment, she was eventually imprisoned in a factory disguised as a social enterprise and suffered terrible exploitation, verbal abuse and assault. Local police were taking bribes and taking part in the crime, aiding and abetting the situation. The follow-up care for nursery school outcasts was also inadequate and oversight of the overall situation was also neglected. And few in the neighborhood  took an interest in Marie.
When the social system that is supposed to protect the weak does not work properly, the weak are forced into a serious crisis. The only entity in the drama that responded to the desperate requests for help from the victims, including Marie, was the taxi company. And when the victims' despair finally turns into  revenge  we can vicariously satisfy our desire for justice with the accompanying pleasure. But more important than revenge is reflection and improvement on the structural contradictions in society that produced such absurdities.

Also, important questions remain even after the revenge. If thorough retribution is made against the individual perpetrator, is the  victim's life completely released from pain? How much time has to pass before the victim can return to a peaceful daily life? 
What is worse if the perpetrator is not properly condemned socially and does not reflect on his life or ask for forgiveness, the victim's  life may be imprisoned in anger forever. 
It may be difficult to discuss forgiveness for the victim standing in the middle of pain, but the clear fact is that the victim's wounds will not heal at once just because the perpetrator was punished. The journey of forgiveness and healing is bound to be extremely difficult. How do we accompany these victims during their suffering more than revenge we need to think deeply on the issue and act.