The Words of the Ladouce Family

News from the 84 in Korea (Nov 28)

Laurent Ladouce
November 28, 2003

Dear all,

We have reached the end of a week of transition. After we came back from Japan, President Sun Jo Hwang announced that our mobilisation extend till April 2004.

Generally, everyone reacted with great dignity and people managed to control their emotions and deal with difficult situations.

This week was used by many to take care of their personal affairs, which had been rather neglected for 70 days. But we also had to write our reflections as individuals as well as propose a plan of action for the coming month. The team work was quite productive and we could propose a 5-page draft centred on outreach activities for the IIPC and the reunification of Korea.

Today, we went to a building downtown Seoul where the interreligious association of Korea has one floor. We had a seminar in the morning with two brilliant speakers. I would like to share part of their talk.

Mrs. Lee is a Ph.D. from Missouri University and is currently teaching human life sciences in Seoul. She was elected last year as a member of the UN Committee for the rights of children. For those of you who are not familiar with the UN, just know that there are 7 committees, and this one is surely the broadest and most comprehensive.

She started with greetings from the podium which expressed all the refined courtesy of Korean etiquette. It was really beautiful. Then, we discovered a lady who is perfectly fluent in English and can also speak French very well. We all were subjugated by her brilliant personality.

"I don't even know what I shall talk to you about" she started, in a sort of casual way which was a delight for the Americans but apparently was more embarrassing for our Korean leaders. She asked us: "What do you think is most important in my job?"

We did not know how to answer. "Well, some people might think that it is to love the children, and believe me, I do love them. But in my position, we need something else, and I call it flexibility. The world is so diverse, and the situation of children asks us to deeply understand the specific circumstances of all the nations. By the way, do you know which are the two nations which have never ratified the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC)?"

We thought of nations such as Middle-East nations, or North Korea or Russia.

"No, Somalia and the United States of America."

We all were startled, but she had told us already about being flexible.

"It is mostly a matter or neglect and political arrogance from the US administration, but frankly speaking, the USA has one of the highest indicators in terms of child care and opportunities offered to the children."

we started to understand why she talked about flexibility. This lady is an incredible communicator.

"By the way, we all are children, aren't we? When I came here, I had a phone call from my mother. I love my mom so much, and one day, I told her: 'Mom, if there is a life after death, and I see no reason why there would not be any, I want to continue with you as mother and daughter.' Oh, why am I talking to you about this? Oh yes, this morning, in the car, I received a phone call from her and she worried: 'It is raining, don't catch cold'"

We realised that, despite her Western manners, this person speaks of filial piety in terms very similar to those used by Father.

She explained the details of her job in the Committee and said deep words about all the 15 colleagues with whom he is working in Geneva. For most of us who are so idealist, her lecture was a lesson of realism. She is optimistic and believes in the progress of mankind but it is a slow process. "We do not have the power to ask for sanctions against the nations which mistreat their children. And I think that our role is to enter a constructive dialogue with them, and see how they can gradually comply to some standards.

We are guided by one fundamental principle: what is the best interest of the child, in all situations.

She then faced a flow of questions and she responded very warmly to all of them. She exhorted us to promote moral values and provide education and vision. "That is your job, your responsibility. Mine is different. In my position, we deal with hard facts and we try to give advice which can be followed. There are so many things which I dislike, such as divorce or homosexuality. But we have to face real and concrete situations, and we need to find ways ...

Concerning the balance between rights and duties, she said it is an old age issue, but her committee does not deal with that.

She is not paid for this job, and has to travel 3 times a year to Geneva for period of 3 weeks, which put her in difficult situations with her administration.

I felt very proud of this beautiful woman, who is very human and wise and who encouraged us to bring norms and standards in the most essential field.

To be continued

Laurent Ladouce

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