Challenges We Are Facing
Challenges We Are Facing
  • Heinz W Schoenhoff,
  • 승인 2014.06.04 13:19
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In 2005, my wife and I were invited to join the faculty of Handong Global University. Although we were privileged to have had many Koreans in the courses we had taught at our previous university, living in Korea has enabled us to study the culture and life-style from close up. Korea has become famous in the world as a model of a nation that rose out of the ashes of a devastating war to become the world’s 7th strongest economy. However, at what cost?
In an ambitious economy-driven society, the normal roles of husband and wife are being challenged. Families are being shaken to the core. The fast pace of changes in this globalizing, industrializing, urbanizing, morality defying life-style leaves little time for evaluating the significance and conditions of the family. It is evident that the time is at hand for Korea to address basic issues such as its rapidly climbing divorce rate, one of the lowest birthrates in the world, problems stemming from fathers and mothers who work late into the night, as well as children who spend 10 or more hours a day in a fragmented school system. The enormous pressure put on teenagers to compete for admission into top national or international universities leaves them very little self-worth. Unfortunately, this has contributed to an increase in adolescent suicides: students who fail to get into “the desired” university. Recent statistics indicate that Korea’s suicide rate is one of the highest in the world.
The family is still the most important social cell of any society. Sociologists agree that as the family goes, so goes the nation. But what is it that characterizes a healthy family? In a healthy family, the father strongly shapes the masculinity of the sons and the femininity of the daughters. His affirmation of their personhood, their appearance, their talents and skills goes a long way in producing confidence, self-acceptance and appropriate gender identity. Spending time with them throughout their childhood keeps the channels of communication open for major decisions later on, such as choosing the right career, the right marriage partner, the right job or the right way of handling finances. Each person and each family has been placed into this creation with intrinsic value and purpose by a loving God. It is the mother’s privilege to guard and further a child’s individuality and creativity and thus raise the child to have the assurance of being loved without fear of failure or rejection. The mother’s unconditional love expressed in the home creates a haven that protects against the demands of a complex and aggressive society. It is the love of the mother that encourages and supports the everyday life of the child and dispels their fear of abandonment.
The importance of husbands and wives living in harmony with each other cannot be overemphasized. This is essential in raising healthy children who will become strong in all areas of their lives. Showing their love and respect to each other first, the parents convey security and confidence to children. I can readily support parents who make God the center and not education, work, status, ambitions, accomplishments, material pursuits or selfish past-times. It should be a signal of alarm to parents that family problems and struggle with self-esteem are by far the most often mentioned by adolescents contemplating suicide. Because misplaced priorities are at the root of Korea’s family dilemma, as parents we are in a position, with God’s help, to do something about it. Therefore, with willingness and determination, let us return to a relationship-based life style in our families by downsizing our hyperactivity. My concern is to shrink the destructive influences on our youth who are, after all, the future of our nation. We need to stand ready to protect and encourage them as they seek significance in their identity and purpose for their lives.
My wife and I look forward to the days when Korea will be known as the nation that was able to reverse its social decline by implanting the right priorities.