Friday, April 20, 2018

Dealing with Betrayal

Betrayal is part of life. Difficult to accept when experienced. Portrayed in literature in all the many cultures of the world and frequently in the Christian  Scriptures. Jesus is the telling example in the New Testament and it wasn't only Judas. This was despite his words of warning  and after each one, in turn, asked: "Surely it's not I?"

The Korean 'Me Too' movement has to do with a betrayal of friendship in most cases. The president of the bishops' conference apologized for this betrayal even among priests. A priest in a diocesan bulletin deals with the issue. He doesn't know how this movement will change society.

Of course many are not happy about the 'Me Too' movement and many support the movement with their: 'With you' response. What was buried in society has finally come out in the open? Gender inequality no longer is a hidden agenda. The movement was waiting to explode within society. Feelings against the power of money in society have always been there: resentment of the weak towards  power was bound to explode. The uncomfortableness between man the powerful one and woman the weak one comes to a head. We are in the midst of change.

The Church is in society and the priest is a part of society. When the clergy and religious are guilty of such behavior the outrage is great. Society is shocked. We should be thankful, says the writer that this is still the case. The public still has greater expectations from the clergy and religious.

The apostles we know lived very close to Jesus for three years. They ate with him, laughed, cried, and underwent many hardships with him but they couldn't give up their desire for power. How much more difficult in the society in which we live to feel the presence of Jesus in our lives. Judas was not able to overcome the feeling of guilt he experienced from the betrayal and killed himself.

Peter who denied Jesus three times a betrayal for which he repented with great sorrow and gave his life for his Lord, became a great disciple. This is an example for all of us. We are prone to make mistakes (which we hope will not happen) but when they do we don't give up.

We don't deny or make excuses for what was done but after great reflection, ask forgiveness from God and the person hurt. Make the necessary compensation to the victim and satisfaction for what was done and go along with our lives.

We can lose the cow from the barn.This can happen to anyone and for a religious person, it should be a step to a more mature life but also the need to fix the barn.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fine Dust Problems in Korea

Korea faces a chronic dirty air problem which makes it one of the most polluted countries in the world. This is not a recent phenomenon and one that continues to grow. China was blamed for a great deal of the problem with the yellow dust from the Gobi desert but in recent years the domestic factors are an equal problem. Korea, China and Japan do meet to discus ways of decreasing the pollution in their countries.

The dust storms that have been a part of the history of the area have been recorded from time immemorial, however, with the industrialization we have an influx of pollutants mixed in with the dust more harmful than in the past. This is true mostly during the spring time of the year. Wearing of masks is now a common sight on the streets of Korea.

President Moon has made clean air one of his important targets. Local sources of pollution include vehicle emissions, industrial sites and power plants, areas where something can be done while foreign sources are beyond Korean control. The government is working to shut down the polluting coal plants and fine dust alerts are sent out to the residents on the dangerous days.

Seoul pushes 'odd-even' number plate anti-pollution car rationing.The Metropolitan Government wants to make an odd-even vehicle number plate use ban mandatory to counter worsening air pollution. Under the ban, vehicles with odd-number plates must not be driven on even-numbered dates and vice-versa. All kinds of ideas have been proffered and the public is concerned in trying to lower the pollution.

The Catholic Peace Weekly in two interviews on the fine dust issue makes clear we  dealing with a disaster and wants the government to help the citizens to breathe freely. At present only the government workers are asked to follow the odd-even number plates ban. This has little to show for results and the free rides on public transportation on the high pollution days is of little help. They do know that back in 2002 when it was mandatory they did see a decrease in pollution.

In one of the largest areas of Seoul about 900 are working in common to decrease the pollution. They promised in 10 different ways to decrease the pollution: use of public transportation, decrease the dust at the construction and industrial sites, plant trees in vacant lots and around homes etc.; they agreed to come together to discuss the results of their efforts.

They take responsibility to water down and clean the roads near the 30 or so construction sites within their district. Their target is to decrease the fine dust to zero. They are working to do the impossible. In the whole district there are over 100 large construction sites. Last year they inspected 370 sites and they exposed 22 sites which were in violation of regulations. Four of them were in great violation and  were charged with a crime. This year they will concentrate on the gases emitted from cars and have a center, free to help discover polluting cars.

The interviewer agrees that it is healthy and a good sign to see the citizens involved in the efforts to clean the city but if force is felt, there is a danger of revolt which will be counter productive and has to be watched.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Trials And Spiritual Growth

Trauma is a word we hear often. Traumatized, traumatization, traumatic all forms of a word that originally intended to mean a wound on the outside of the body, an external injury but now often used to indicate a psychological shock, wound of the heart and soul caused by some horrible experience.

A diocesan bulletin reminds the readers of the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds that we are exposed to in our lives. In Korea where we have serious accidents happening and leaving many people with scars that take time to heal. Trauma is a word we use frequently.  Incidents that cause trauma are diverse: natural disasters (floods, and earthquakes),  war, fire, physical assault, torture, sexual assault,  automobile accidents etc. Trauma often causes mental symptoms: anxiety, phobias, depression, alcohol and drug dependence, but fortunately, most of it disappears over time.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that may follow some horrible event, experiencing,  or witnessing it.  It is a long-lasting post-traumatic stress disorder and may need professional help. The Korean Neuropsychiatric Association recommends those who have been traumatized communicate with others, talk about their emotions, rest, do not rely on alcohol, harmful medicines and take care of their bodies and minds.

Pain is normal and to use all the natural means available to find peace is the search for healing. This has always been a part of our society. However, it is true that many who go through horrible experiences are able to go on with their lives without serious problems: shown to be true for certain nations who have experienced war but without the PTSD.

In the Bible, we have examples of those who have been traumatized: Saul traumatized others but was himself traumatized by the many atrocities he experienced and caused. We are often told the spirit of God left him. David the warrior king also experienced many horrible things and was not left untouched. St. Ignatius of Loyola may very well have experienced PTSD from his experience of war. We are all possible victims of PTSD.

Spirituality is the way of seeing life that acknowledges God presence here and now. His love accepted and responded to makes all the difference. God always makes the first steps towards us and not us to God. This is a truth often forgotten or not understood. Some believe we are not necessarily programmed to be unwilling victims. In the past, we often heard what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Certainly true if one believes in God and has a mature spirituality. Growth can be a result of the stress if we believe in its possibility.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Changes in the Constitution of Korea

In the Eye of the Believer's column of the Catholic Times, a lawyer asks the readers since I bought some land on which a magnolia tree grows, does the tree belong to me?  

He begins the article reminiscing about his childhood of 50 years ago. Everyone who lived in a two-story house was rich. He had kimchi, small fish and tempura side dishes, but the friend from the two-story house had a sausage in his lunch box. Even though we were not rich all the houses had a little flower garden that bloomed with their seasonal flowers.

At in the evening we would go to the alley and play hide and seek, tag, and sing. Compared to the average income of those days we have increased it hundreds of times. The alley playground, the flower gardens, and the singing have all disappeared. Instead of the flower garden, we wanted to extend the house, and instead of singing myself I go to watch the singing and dancing of others.This is all because of money. Capitalism has eaten away at the flower beds, the songs, and the games.

A discussion is in full swing to revise the constitution. What has that to do with me? Many have these thoughts running through their heads. In Korean, we hear often a person is such that he can live without laws. Yes, there are many such people. Law does not only deal, however, with criminal offenses but also helps us to live a fuller life. Law determines a great deal of the way we live.

When you make a law to redevelop the neighborhood the benefits should go to all the inhabitants who pay the taxes. Whether the minimum wage is 5,000 won or 10,000 won the concern of the workers and the employers are different. Whether large co-operations will be able to make a fish cake or tofu and sell them and regulations of store hours for department stores, means a great deal to the merchants within that community.

The constitution is the basis for the laws of the country that coordinates the many interests of the people. The Constitution is our life and needed to protect all the citizens. One of the disputed points is the possession of land: those who hold for the absolute ownership of land. In Korea up until the Chosen dynasty land was own by the country. This is the way it is in China we build on the land and have the right to its use, to live and build on it.

The Second Vatican Council section 69  of the Pastoral Constitution answers: "God intended the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being and people. Thus, as all men follow justice and unite in charity, created goods should abound for them on a reasonable basis." Also, we have in the same paragraph: "In using them, therefore, a man should regard his lawful possessions not merely as his own but also as common property in the sense that they should accrue to the benefit of not only himself but of others."

This kind of talk is often hard to accept and this is also true of Christians. This land and its magnificence, registered in my name, is mine within the limits of the common good. We should be happy to see a change that will benefit everyone.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cure for Pride

A proud person doesn't know he is proud and in most cases doesn't care, consequently, no reason to seek a cure. A seminary professor in the Kyeongyang magazine says in his article, this person is difficult to help. One needs to have an understanding of what pride is for results.

A close connection exists between the degree of understanding we have of the influence of pride on behavior and the efforts to overcome the problem.  Knowing how pride shows itself and its cost are beneficial in overcoming the habit. When we determine that the cost of pride is greater than the benefits the motivation to overcome the habit is present.

The external effects of pride:neglect,vanity, boasting, lying and the like are the negatives; seeking support and recognition, overcoming a sense of inferiority and gaining confidence are all goods that may be achieved by other means.

A feeling of inferiority is not always a bad thing. Alfred Alder the Austrian psychiatrist stressed that the reason for the many success stories in life comes from a feeling of inferiority, it's a great motivator. Pride comes from little understanding of the self; many misunderstand the ideal self for the real self.

Psychology does present us with ways to understand the self. First, in counseling or psychological testing. Secondly, new activities, interests, and initiating new encounters with others. Thomas Aquinas is quoted as saying beware of the person with one book. He thinks he knows it all and is more dangerous than those who don't read. It is good to read within your area of interest but also to approach other special areas to realize that our interests are narrow. Thirdly,  we need the time for introspection. What have today's incidents, encounters and available time  taught us? What knowledge have we added to what we know?

Confession is an opportunity to see ourselves as we are objectively.We gaze upon ourselves in the presence of God but also at the same time with the mercy and love of God.

J. Taylor the Anglican Bishop said that humility is not something easily understood outside of Christianity. Knowing oneself contains what is meant by humility. It is the cure for pride and the results of knowing oneself. However, it is not a passive or unconditional lowering ourselves by duress.

Easily do we confuse true and false humility. False humility is influenced by the inferiority complex while true humility is not. False humility develops from a low respect for the self, a true humility comes from a healthy self-respect and courage.

True humility can accept criticism and doesn't put   others down, nor blame others for what they lack. A truly humble person knows oneself in the presence of God.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Love, Freedom, and Happiness

"Don't be a nuisance to others,"  words addressed to the young Japanese children by their parents. Unfortunately, in Korea, we have an increase of 'no kids zone' —places that parents need not discipline their children. If children are allowed to follow their bliss will they as adults be free and happy? Is this the way to authentic freedom and happiness? An article in the Catholic Weekly introduces this question by a priest college professor.

In modern society, individual freedom and rights are becoming more and more important than traditional values ​​and practices. The World Value Survey from the late 1990s shows that Korean parents are  more concerned with autonomy of the child: self determination according to individual standards but for the professor, autonomy implies morality, principles and norms. Individualism that lacks morality will have a negative impact on the human community. Individualism is spreading in a culture that pursues survival because of the uncertainty and the pressures of a rapidly changing international situation and a financial recession.

In a capitalist society, freedom allows one to enjoy life in proportion to the amount of money one possesses. From a Christian point of view, freedom gives direction and purpose to life. In other words the question in Christian freedom: freedom from— and freedom to—.  Freedom is for what?

In Korean society, Confucian hierarchy and status  coexists within a patriarchal culture; unreasonable and narrowness of outlook are widespread. Resistance to repressive 'external authority' is a sign of today's age. We Christians should read these signs, protect the freedoms and rights of the underprivileged, and respect individuals as personalities that are part of the living organism, not  appendages.

On the other hand, humans need deep prayer, reflection, and deeds to free us from disorderly desires that can dominate us. Even though we  may appear to be free on the surface we may be slaves of unconscious desires. We are all sinners who are easily trapped in a self-centered life (individualism), but are invited to the journey of conversion and rebirth in God's mercy and grace. Furthermore, we need greater freedom to move towards happiness that leads to "loving God and loving our neighbors," without permitting the consumer society to control us.

Resurrection is the invitation of the living Lord who wants our lives to be truly full. The message of the Resurrection presents us with a  way of life. In the paschal  journey we die to ourselves so we can grow as Christians, a pilgrimage that goes beyond individualism to true freedom and happiness. 

The priest professor finishes the article mentioning the book With God in Russia a memoir by Walter Ciszek (1904—1984) an American Jesuit priest. With all the trials and suffering he endured he testifies  that he had an indescribable peace and happiness from God when all his strength was crushed during his years in prison. Our wills, self-love, and attachments make it difficult to receive the fruit of happiness but the more efforts to please God the  greater our love and graces of freedom and true happiness.  St. Augustine said: "Love and do what you want."

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Depression Among the Young

In the past 12 months, 20.3% of the boys and 30.3% of the girls have been saddened or dejected enough to stop their daily lives for a period of two weeks. 9.4% of boys and 15.0% of girls thought seriously of suicide. These words begin an article in the Catholic Times reviewing a survey made over the past year of our young people by the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency conducted on 60,000 middle and high school students nationwide.

Depression that predominantly appeared in adults in the past now also occurs in children and adolescents.This is especially true in April and May after the start of the new semester because they can't adjust to the new school environment. Stress increases because of study or bullying.

Depression also called the 'cold of the mind' is a chronic illness of all generations in the modern world. In adolescents, it is easy to overlook their symptoms because of puberty. They need special attention as it can lead to suicide if the cognitive development does not proceed and the depression not treated.

Experts say that adolescent depression has multiple causes: family history, school, friends, social culture and economic situation and developmental problems. Many symptoms are not understood and not recognized as depression. It's important to understand the psychological state of the young people and to look at their behavior.

When a child says " I don't want to go to school," most parents just take this as ordinary child's talk and take little notice of the malaise the child feels. They need to concern themselves with the change of behavior at this time.  

A Salesian priest in his doctrinal dissertation identified the mutual relationship between stress, spirituality and life satisfaction in institutional youth. He stressed that spirituality or religion affects the stress and depression of adolescents. The greater the spirituality of the young the less the depression and stress. The young people should be helped to meet with others and to resolve their desires with sharing and activities. In his doctoral dissertation, he also identified the mutual relationship between stress, spirituality, and life satisfaction in children in student establishments.

Mild symptoms of depression may be resolved by parental care but counseling and medication may be needed in serious situations. There are many counseling centers available that provide help with family conflict, problems with friendship, interruption of schooling, runaways, internet addiction, career and academic problems. The internet is a valuable asset if you press '1388' you can consult at any time.