Monday, January 22, 2018

Addiction Smombie

As the digital culture continues to develop in the 4th industrial revolution our lives are being transformed beyond imagination. At the same time, we see the dark side of this emerging culture. A diocesan priest writes in the Catholic Times' column of what he has heard on studies on the use of smartphones in Korea.

We call the society in which we live the addicted society. An addiction that destroys our humanity and the society in which we live. Humorously we say in one family the father was addicted to pornography, the mother to shopping, the daughter to SNS, and the son to games. These addictions bring serious harm not only to the individual and families but they break down the spirituality and the trust among believers: the church lost in the culture of death.

Children and infants are the ones potentially the most venerable. This problem has been with us for some time but appearing even among infants under 5 years old who can't be separated from their smartphones.

As smartphones become a necessity for children the average age of first use is just under 3 years of age. The problem is the use of smartphones at an early age according to some experts are serious obstacles to brain growth and development. Researchers found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young people addicted to smartphones and the internet.

A child's brain develops unevenly making it difficult to learn, remember and judge information. Language development may be delayed. Peer relationship may not be smooth and communication difficult and aggressive. The writer mentions talking to an authority in the field who was overly concerned about the harm being perpetrated on our young people.

His words showed the inability to compromise, to sympathize and feel the pain and suffering of others. This is not a good sign for society as we get more who are indifferent to what is happening in society and this will continue to old age. No room for love, experiencing and showing mercy to others.

There is a new word used 'Smombie', a smartphone zombie: combination of the word smartphone and zombie.  A pedestrian who walks slowly and without attention to their surroundings focused on the smartphone, now a significant safety hazard.

Silence is now being marketed as more people are escaping from the digital noise. Noise detox products are released. The 'Buddhist Temple Stay' is popular because people seek silence, calm and peace.

The Catholic Church has also begun 'Seoul Stay', a period of retreat away from the digital world and a time for silence, self-examination, meditation, a time for prayer and renewal. A believer taking time out for a retreat once a year will be a good opportunity to get away from the digital noise, addiction and to look over one's life.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Love,Love, Love

Without love, we have hell, with love, paradise. A college teacher in a Catholic Peace Weekly column gives the readers a meditation on Love. A couple who have lived together for a life time make this trip to heaven and hell a few times a day. Love is not a word but a way of life. Husband and wife, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, between brothers and sisters this journey is made often. 

Giving and accepting of love is more difficult the closer the bond is. A well-known family code of conduct shows the truth of this by clearly saying: "if love is found in the family you can love everybody."

Jesus asked of us two things: a reverential awe of God, and secondly to love one another. All the other virtues can be said to be contained in these two precepts.

The writer mentions a woman she has been concerned with for some time and lives alone. On a  visit to the woman she found her living in an unheated room with a blanket on the floor of the room. She spiritualized the whole issue and saw no problem.

She asked how much she has to live on each month.  With the money, she got on welfare and the other income it was not much, not enough to take care of her heating bill. She left some money to help in heating the house. On another visit, the woman was still on the floor with her blanket. She told the teacher it was still no problem with the cold and gave the money that she received to help some of the refugees from the North. She was like the widow in the Gospel with her offering in the temple.

On one occasion she asked about the writer's father who she knew was sick. She told her that being the daughter she should be close to her father during these difficult times.The writer knew what was behind these words. She told the woman that if anything happens in the future to contact her. "I will be with you."  She was relieved to hear these words from her friend.

Love is concern for another in little things, a little hillock that a person can use to rest. We can not save our country. We can make small contributions to the poor living in Africa but we can't have a direct impact on them. However, I can convey my interest and love to the people I meet daily.

She is an educator who teaches students. Nowadays, most of the students acquire their knowledge through the internet, and show little concern for the lectures they hear in the classroom. She reminds the readers that in the future it is said that artificial intelligence robots will do a much better job giving lectures and the teaching profession will disappear.

She finishes her article telling the readers she has changed her way of teaching from imparting information to the conveying of love. To do this we have to get rid of authority, practice patience and be closer to the students. Forming a loving community: is there anything more educative than that as an aim for an educator?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Healing Scars from the Past

Both Catholic Weeklies remembered the 70th year of 
the Jejudo uprising, an insurgency that brought about the death of over 30 thousand on Jejudo island from April 3, in 1948 to Sept. 21, 1954. A tragic event whcih many citizens have never heard mentioned because it was hidden in Korean history.

Japanese colonial rule which lasted from 1910  to 1945 came to an end when the United States and the Soviet Union liberated Korea. August 15, is National Liberation Day in both the North and South. Since Japan unconditionally surrendered, Korea was divided between the United States and the Soviet Union. Unable to agree on joint trusteeship, Korea was divided between Russia and the United States: Communist Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the North and the West aligned, First Republic of Korea in the South.

The First Republic was established on August 15, 1948, with Syngman Rhee as the first president. This was done independently and the leftist elements in society began to oppose the First Republic and those on the right, in opposition, gave rise to the death of large numbers of innocent law abiding citizens. We know from history that these kinds of incidents don't just happen overnight but were fermenting over many years.

After liberation, the sympathetic pro-Japanese security forces with the help of the American military administration began to use military force against the citizens which was the beginning of the 4:3 killings. This continued even after the Korean War ended. This reality and that so few know about it is no small matter.

Because of the different ideologies involved the examination and review of history is not a simple task and the divergent opinions are many but the events should be known and efforts to resolve the anger found.

The diocese of Jejudo has formed a committee to find ways to approach the issue pastorally. The anger that remains in the minds and hearts of many is not limited to the local area but is present  throughout the country.  The left-right divide has been a reality in Korea for many years previous to the Korean war and after.

When we search for justice and truth all things work together for peace. We have not as yet arrived at a point where we have taken care of the justice issues facing the country and consequently the lack of peace within society.

The aim of the Committee which is composed of 13 members is after 70 years to bring forgiveness and reconciliation for the pain and scars inflicted during those many years. It is not to place blame but to have a win-win approach to the issues that continue  over the years. This is the object of the committee, to find a true peace and healing. Expressed in the  many events during this period and ending with the April 1st to 7th, a commemorative  week after Easter, hoping for a new beginning.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Accepting Harmony in Diversity

Confucius in his Analects is quoted: "we don't have to agree on all things, to live harmoniously with one another." In the Catholic Peace Weekly a columnist  uses these four words: ε’Œ θ€Œ 不 同 (living at peace with another doesn't mean you think the same) and agrees that there is no reason you have to agree in all things before living together harmoniously. Isn't this what we want to see between North and South Korea?

North Korea's Kim Jong-un said he would participate in the Pyeong Chang Olympics and the door to the North-South dialogue has been opened. If we look closely at the talk given by Kim Jong-un he strongly maintains his right to continue his nuclear advancements but at the same time wants to work towards a peaceful climate on the peninsula.

President Moon wants to strengthen the friendship and cooperation to resolve the nuclear issue while improving the situation between the North and South. Both North and South have given a message of hope that relaxation of the tension and peace can be achieved without abandoning their identities.

The United States has made clear there is no change in its strong sanctions policy toward North Korea. This is the US  position in the international community and a warning message to the Korean government.

We live with the Confucian thought that we can still get along with others without having to agree on all things. In domestic affairs on the basis of different ideologies groups unite together and oppose those with different ideas and we close our eyes to the problems of the country as a whole. Under the last government, we criticised those we considered followers of the North and refused to see the problems in our own government.

It is natural that our allies have doubts about our attitude towards each other since we ignore the greater dynamics with the rest of the world. We are new to the Republican ideals. In the Roman Republic, two consuls were elected to work together. Today in the Western democracy it is built on the system of the separation of powers.

Modern democracy operates on the principle of diversity according to the principles of the Roman Republic. The existence of a different other is meaningful to my existence. People come together to form communities. We maintain peace by respecting each other without giving up our identities. However, living with plurality harmoniously is not one of our ideals. In the Roman Republic, the two consuls had veto power on the other and cooperated with each other.

The principles of democracy should not be difficult  for Christians to accept because we are taught to love our enemies.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Beautiful Death

An article in the Kyeongyang magazine by a mental health specialist tells the readers about a doctor who had a CT scan done on himself to discover half of his liver was covered with tumors that had metastasized to the lymph glands and to other areas, and he was surprised he was not conscious of any symptoms.

At the longest it was three months he said spitting out the words. He was a specialist in liver cancer and worked operating on liver patients for the last 30 years. He retired 5 years ago but still gave of his time to the hospitals attached to Medical Colleges in the country. He never deduced that in his own body cancer was growing.

Death is destiny. Once we become clearly conscious of our own death fear enters.This fear has helped to develop the medical sciences, given life to religion and faith, many maintain that even, art, culture and our whole worldly reality is tied to this fear of death.  Fear of death, paradoxically, has given birth to what makes life beautiful. The doctor had donated all the money earned over the years to the hospitals, he now took two hundred dollars and put it in his wallet.

Fear of death makes one attached to the material. Why this attachment since we will be leaving it all behind shortly? Materiality temporarily allows as to forget the anxiety of life and compensates for the emptiness felt. We all live as if earthly life will not end and yet we know our material things will be divided among others at the grave site.

Often we hear the five steps of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We don't have them necessarily in that order and often many are skipped but few come to the complete acceptance of the inevitability of death with peace. Strange, facing death we should be less concerned with what is going on but often the opposite is seen when death is seen as coming many become more obstinate and want to grasp what they are losing.

The doctor lived over six months and died peacefully in the arms of his wife. We all have to meet death but it is not all in the same way for the way we live is varied and different for all. Old age, sickness, pain. poverty, loneliness are steps in the process. One of the great desires of many is to die in their sleep.The way of death is not always just.

The less satisfactory our life is the more we try to amass the material, and with change we see obsession. Some become attached to an unorthodox faith life, trust only in skilled doctors and get lost in an imaginary world. Fear of death can make the years before death hell, and a hell like life makes for a hell like death.

According to some studies on a good death, honesty and transparency, cheeful relationships with others  an interest in the world around oneself: not to particular things but to the future of descendants,  family, spouse and enjoying time with them are all elements often present.

We begin dying right after birth. How do we fill up the life that we have been given? This  is our decision. A life well lived will be followed by a beautiful death.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Anti-Nuclear and a Deliberative Democracy

When different groups in society can agree to work together for the common good we have something   all can celebrate and encourage. Articles in the Catholic Weeklies have reported on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Seoul City and the Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul.

According to the understanding the Seoul Archdiocese will increase generating solar power via the roofs of its parish buildings and on church-owned land including parking lots. It will also encourage parishioners to install solar generators in their homes.

The Mayor of Seoul wants to produce enough energy to replace one of the nuclear power plants by 2022.  Waste that follows the operation of our nuclear power plants is a positive talking point. Mayor's aim is to decrease the use of fossil fuels and reliance on nuclear energy with the increase of solar power in the city.

What would happen if all the roofs of the Seoul Buildings had solar panels? If 45 % of the roof space of our buildings were used there would be a 25% increase of energy produced. Seoul City has
inaugurated this plan for the new year and will be asking other organization to participate which the Cardinal did for the Seoul Archdiocese.

Seoul City has worked in the past to reduce the consumption of energy which it did achieve and now  they have turned to the production of energy. They will invest a great deal of money on this project and mobilize the public to participate.

The Catholic Church has been been a leader in the anti-nuclear movement in South Korea. Fukushima  in 2011 was a reminder of the risks that come with nuclear energy. The earthquakes we had last year in Korea helped the anti-nuclear movement but the citizens are still concerned with the price of electricity  and the abandonment of nuclear power which is  a money maker for the country. The majority are ambiguously for the continuation of nuclear energy.

Korea is the fifth largest user of nuclear power with over 20 nuclear reactors scattered throughout  the country. The new government and the the desire of the President to follow the will of the people gave the president little room but to go ahead with the construction of the the nuclear plants that were under construction. His desire clearly is to abandon nuclear energy in the future and hopes the people will come to embrace this position.

Decreasing fossil fuels and increasing renewable energy is the movement spearheaded by the Seoul City. Seoul Archdiocese is not only opposed to nuclear energy but wants to do something concretely to show its willingness to work to together with Seoul City to produce renewable energy and our dependency on nuclear energy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Chronos or Kairos?

In a column of the Catholic Times, a priest university professor, brings to the attention of the readers the understanding of time from ancient Greece:  Chronos and Kairos. Chronos was quantitative, the time we count with our watches and clocks, physical, chronological time by which we are surrounded. Kairos is a special time, qualitative time, opportunity, the moment in experiencing God together. It's becoming part of God's history in time.

How do we meet the Kairos moment in 20l8? Kairos is the kiss from eternity and a movement of grace in the here and now. We need to step away from the Chronos clock that controls all our movements.We live in a time of compulsion to improve our comfortableness. 'Time is money', a record that continues to play in our heads. Necessary if we are to make life comfortable for the elderly so we believe.

The candlelight processions of last year brought big change to society. The evening prayer of Mary the Magnificat became the desire of many of the citizens. Candles illuminated the darkness and leaders were removed.

We need to reflect humbly on  where are we going? Do we want the wealth and glory of the past?  Is it a time we feel the presence of God but not completed presence? Christians are never captivated by the glories of the past but move on to the eschatological future. We are invited to live by looking at the new heaven and earth where the will of God is unfolded.  Not satisfied with our life of yesterday and today. Politicians, business people or religious people who are bound by their own vested interests are not  able to accept God-centered time. 

According to the writer, we have been living with a struggle to break away from the colonial days but are still tied to the Japanese ways. We need to go in a  qualitatively different direction.Conversion of the heart is first and most important but the structure also has to change.

We need to remember the lesson of the Sewol Disaster and our recent government problems.  If our lives and safety are to be replaced by vested interests namely the maintenance of political power or the means of earning more money we are moving away from God's time.

Let's  build a society that welcomes God's time in the poor.Those who are wounded and marginated by social exclusion, those excluded from our church community; we want to get out of the pressure of Chronos, let 's go to the place of life of the alienated, there we will meet Kairos the time of God which is full of life.

Despite the long-term economic downturn, North Korea's nuclear development, the sad dictatorship and the tension in East Asia do not be afraid to ask for God's grace to go in a different direction. As a Jesuit he finishes the article, using the words from the Spiritual Exercises: For both me and our world, God is sweating and constantly laboring (#236).