[Viewpoint] The more we see hands that shareAccording to Psalms 126: “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy.”
The farmer is not weeping because of hard labor. Even if his family at home is crying from hunger, he must leave some seeds to sow because they bring food tomorrow.
The entire country is divided as the debate rages on about axing college tuition fees and making school meals free. One side is calling for a blanket welfare system with free food and a cut in college tuition for children from rich and poor families. The other is arguing for selective welfare, opposed to universal benefits for both rich and poor when many young people from poor neighborhoods cannot even afford to finish high school. The war of words among adults over feeding and educating our children is embarrassing.
The Golden Ratio of 1:1.618 is a number epitomizing differing constants composing a perfect proportion and harmony. The 1:1 correlation may be closer to equality than divine selection. The call for equality is no longer the sole demand of the poor.
It is true we need more aggressive ways to pursue proportional balance in welfare in order to resolve the widening wealth gap and subsequent social conflict. We particularly cannot leave the young frustrated and discouraged by educational disadvantages and a lack of opportunity because they are poor. But without selling the seeds set aside for future generations, public finances alone cannot cover socioeconomic polarization. We need more support from the private sector.
The United States, which grew from regional societies and states to form a federal nation, has pioneered the concept of a private welfare system. Some 80 percent of private welfare comes from individual donors, a multitude of charity groups and non-profit organizations. They rush to the scene when federal funds cannot.
Feeding and caring for the children of wealthy families is not the role of social welfare. There may be a small difference in the wording of “sharing” and “shared,” but their meaning is poles apart. When one shares something with another, it is an act of symbiosis. But if something belonging to someone is forcibly shared against his or her will, resentment and hostility could prevail.
The country’s social welfare system is financed 75 percent by the public sector, 5 percent legally imposed on the private sector, and 20 percent through donations. Of the donations, more than 80 percent comes from the corporate sector and a paltry sum from individuals. The U.S. is the opposite. Warren Buffett donated $1.5 billion to the Bill Gates Foundation.
The religious sector plays a divine role in encouraging philanthropy. Churches should emphasize and exercise the act of sharing as much as they stress the responsibility of tithing. The religious sector should stand at the forefront to spread the beauty of sharing and charity. The Bible records Jesus telling a rich man to “sell everything you have and give to the poor,” if he wants eternal salvation. It applies first to churches. Instead of spending billions of won to renovate and build bigger churches, they should seek out and look after the needy.
It is pure hypocrisy to demand that the government pay for school meals, tuition and health care to help the underprivileged while keeping one’s own pockets closely shut. The religious foundations should be the first to open up their coffers and help poor students access the education they need. Rich churches should also share some of their wealth to lead the way in any private welfare campaign.
The more we see hands that share, the faster we will reap the rich rewards of social unity and harmony. Such an act is also the best way to exemplify our Constitutional spirit of pursuing unity of the race through justice and humanity.
*The writer is a partner at Hwang Mok Park, P.C. and former head of the Seoul Central Court.
By Lee Woo-keun