[OUTLOOK]A pure soul or a shaved head?

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[OUTLOOK]A pure soul or a shaved head?

The private schools law must be revised because it is evil. The provision that requires outside board members may enable evil forces to infiltrate into schools and control them. Requirements for outside board members deployed by the government are too loose and allow individuals to force a school into difficulties on purpose. When it looks like a school has problems, the education ministry can send outside board members to the school immediately. From that moment on, the outside board members take control of the school. This is wrong.
A university in the metropolitan Seoul area has long been under the control of external forces. At a prestigious university in Seoul, outside board members sent from the government have been acting as if they own the school. Outside forces such as the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union can make a school look like it has problems in order to take control of it. When a person opens a school, as the found-er, he or she endows it with his or her assets to realize an education philosophy. The country has a duty to protect the good will of such people.
Last week, Protestant leaders shaved their heads in protest. I also believe that the laws must be revis-ed, but I was upset when I looked at the photo of the leaders. Their protest looked too commonplace. When groups like labor unions protest in defense of their self-interest, they shave their heads and tie red bands around them. This has been their way of demonstrating their determination to protect their interests.
I was concerned that the religious groups may have made themselves look like trade unionists to the public. A leader of a religious group who shaved his head for the protest justified his action by saying that St. Paul had his head shaved after he found a chapel for martyrdom. But no matter how good the intention, if an inappropriate means is used to realize it, the intention looks less persuasive. Different types of people should use different means. If a person belongs to the material world, he will choose the means of that world. A religious person should use a means consistent with his religious beliefs. People in the material world depend on material means such as power, money, violence or majority rule. Conflicts involving these forces are the history of the material world.
However, religious figures must take a different approach. The history of Christianity demonstrates this. An innocent man of Judah in Palestine was crucified and that began Christianity. He was a man without money or position. All he hoped for was peace on Earth. With-in 300 years of his crucifixion, the Roman Empire bent its knees before the man. The young man who suffered hardships and persecution and was killed became victorious. That is an outcome based on religious belief.
At times, the borders between religious and material matters, between the material world and religious circles, between religious beliefs and politics seem to blur. Sometimes, religious people follow the rules of the material world when the material world looks more powerful and rules of the earthly world seem more logical. This is the secularization of religions.
If a priest bequests his church to his son, like people hand down their assets, can this be said to be appropriate in terms of his religious beliefs? Some religious people want to use material measures to control people. Islamic extremists are a good example because they think that they should use violence to spread their beliefs.
We hope that peace and love can exist in the world as they do in the heaven. Such goals should be realized through religious measures, no matter how long that takes.
Religious leaders are worried that they will not be able to teach their religious beliefs to students due to the private schools law. Perhaps such worries might become a reality. But still, religious figures should use holy measures like prayer to correct the situation if they want to be persausive. Christianity did not develop through financial power, violence or majority rule. It developed where it was persecuted and oppressed. If there is one righteous person in a school, he or she can protect the school. That is the power of religious measures.
I do not know exactly what measures should be taken to resolve problems surrounding the private schools law. But I do hope that the Protestant leaders’ decision to have their heads shaved will not look like an attempt to protect their material privileges. They should think seriously about whether they have something to confess and if they are truly worried about religious teachings. Their schools survived the Japanese occupation despite pressure to close them. No powerful person on earth has ever won dominion over a person who seeks heaven’s judgment of their intentions. That is the history of all religions and that is the evidence that religions are still alive.

*The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Moon Chang-keuk
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