Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation: An Asian Perspective

by Yong-Bok Kim

Kim Yong-Bock (family name Kim), Ph. D., is President of Hanil University and Theological Seminary in Chonbuk, Korea (Wanju-Kun Sangkwan-Myun, Shinri, 694-1; Chonbuk, Korea 565-830).  He received his Masters of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University.  He has been a teaching fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary, an international consultant to the Commission on Ecumenical Missions and Relations, National Board of Missions, of the United Presbyterian Church (USA), and is founder and Director of the Christian Center for Asian Studies,  and  Director of the Doctor of Ministries Studies, a joint program with San Francisco Theological Seminary.

This paper was written in August, 1989.


The issue of the relation of human life and nature is not merely the question of how to deal with the natural environment but that of the total creation, which involves the justice, participation and peace in an integral unity. Theologically the term creation does not refer only to the nature, but the whole creation, human and otherwise.

"And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it(Genesis 2:15)."

It has been a great concern for humanity to deal with the natural environment, for the nature has been the "source of human life" as well as the threat to it at times. In recent years there has risen a new type of the same concern in that the advancement of human ability to control and manipulate the natural forces by means of science and technology has created life threatening situation in terms of the pollution, nuclear weapons, and intervention of the natural process with the unforseen consequences.

The issue of the relation of the human life and the nature is not merely the question of how to deal with the natural environment but that of the total creation, which involves the justice, participation and peace in an integral unity. One warning on the use of the terms is in order: theologically the term, creation, does not refer only to the nature, but the whole creation, human and otherwise. Sometimes there has been confusion between the terms, creation and nature. The nature is only a part of the creation. The theological notion of creation is to express the relationship between God and the whole reality. In reality the God's act of creation is over against the power of darkness, formlessness and chaos, perphaps symbolized by the " Babylonian Power." It is God's saving and liberating act for the whole creation.

The present paper assumes an historical perception that the Creation of God is being undone by the power of science and technology, which is being manifested in the form of powers of exclusive truth of scientific knowledge, unlimited technological know-how, and their economic and political organization, such as the transnational corporation and the state, including the military machinery. This phenomenon is called here as technocracy, which can be discribed as a social process in which an elite controls the total or main aspect of human life with the sense of absolute certainty of scientific knowledge and of technological skills. This is manifested in the economic life as the giant economic corporation, in the political life as the state bureaucracy and modern military organization, in the cultural life as the information and knowledge industry such as the universities and coqunication media.

The characteristics of the technocracy

Science and technology dominate the human life today. The scientific epistemology has dominated human knowledge; especially the method of the natural sciences has been regarded as most reliable not only for natural sciences, but also for social and human sciences. Although the history and philosophy of science testifies the various understanding as to the nature of the scientific knowledge, it can be said that there is a fundamental structure of knowing, that is, the knowing agent as reason and the knowledge as the rationally organized object. The fundamental tenet of this structure is found in the theories of Rene Descartes and Iqanuel Kant, which is still in their full force in epistemological theories. In this structure of knowing there is a fundamental split between the subject of knowing and the known object. This discussion masy be too simplistic; and yet it points to the basic problem of the Western epistemology as an act of rational domination. Furthermore, there has been tendency to attribute in a varying degrees the certainty to the scientific "truth" as universal, and as unchangable, beyond its proper scope. Limited observation, limited procedure, and limited hypothesis have been often regarded as univerally valid, although some schools of thought are realizing the folly of this assumption. When such rationalistic and scientific claims dominate not only in their proper domain, but in the other domains of social and human life, the situation is very serious, and yet this is the present situation. The reliance to such scientific knowledge marks the modern Western civilization that dominates the world. Furthermore, this scientific knowledge is controlled by the Western power complex of the industrial-military-university.

As the scientific knowledge cannot be separated from the technological process, we should consider the technocratic process as a whole. The most important manifestation of the technocracy is the giant transnational corporations, which has a larger share of the control over science and technology. As Galbraith as stated in his book, NEW INDUSTRIAL STATE, the the giant modern corporations seek to control their total environment through planning, done by techno-structure. This process is dominant in the state structure and in the military organizations of the industrial nations. This prcoess governs the coqunication and information process through electronic technology.

Technology in modern times has distinct characteristics of self-augumentation and qualitatively accelerating tendencies in its operation as it described by such analysists as Jacque Ellul(The Technological Society). Here again the technology has a cjaracteristic of something more than a simple extension of human agency.

The technocracy is not merely dominating in its inner nature, but also it is the unusually dominant power reality, that cannot be checked by the traditional and conventional means means. Let us take the case of the transnational corporations. t is increasingly felt that the power of the TNCs are not and cannot be sufficiently controlled by the parlimentary democracies in the West, and the behaviors of the TNCs in the third world countries are like an unbridled horse. They do not know any laws or rules in expanding their power and making profits in the Third World countries. The power of the TNCs are determined by the logic of the profit maximization and the limitless of expansion of their power. The other case is the powers of the military organizations. The super power military organizations are deadly locked into the fierce arms race against each other in the name of the security and survival. The capability to destory the enemy has beyond its limit and now can literally destroy everything in the world. And yet the arms race continues in terms of its quantitative aspects as well as qualitative dimensions. The military powers are not power realities in themselves, but they influence every aspect of the human life in a given society and in the world, for militarization of politics, economic structures, and cultural values is the pervasive phenomenon.

The technocracy is manifested as power reality in the information and coqunication order. The production of knowledge, decemination of information, and coqunication of the data are very much controlled by the TNCs, the industrialized states, and the global news agencies of the West through the highly sophiscated electronic means. The power of knowledge, information and coqunication are increasingly the most formidable power reality that dominates the people in the global scale.

The Technocracy is Known Through its Victims

The power realities of the technocracy can be analysed in terms of its internal dynamics and in terms of the general impact upon the people and their coqunity, and yet the best way to reveal their nature would be through the stories of their victims, that is, the people or Minjung in the society and in the cosmos, where the modern Leviathan--a symbolism for the principalities and powers-- and the modern Dynasau --a symbolism for an ever-growing economic power entity--dominate. The Leviathan represents the power that seeks its security through the logic of the survival of the fittest and through the logic that the stronger will eat the weaker. The Dynasau represents the corporate power that depends on the unlimited growth which exploits and integrates other weaker entities for the profit maximization.

Especially in the third world the technocracy is experienced as power reality that comes from the outside, penetrating the coqunity of the people. Transnational corporation penetrates as the mighty economic power, and the military of the powerful nations penetrate politically through inter-locking systems alliances and their strategic and tactical coordinations in the name of peace and security. The government systems are integral part of this process of the technocratic penetration, be it democratic or dictatorial. The International Information fundamentally represents the dominance and penetration of the technocratic culture into the life of the peoples in the third World, either in the form of science and technology transfer, or in the form of economic development and coqercial advertisement, or in terms of the inculcation of military values such as national security doctrine and peace propagenda. In this process there are the third world people, who are victimized not only in terms of exploitation and oppression but also in terms of errosion of the human coqunity and the spirit of the people. And furthermore, the natural enviroment become inhabitable, for the technocracy destroys the nature that sustains the life, human and natural.

This reality of technocracy as experienced by the peoples in the third world is known as concrete historical knowledge in the stories of the victimized people. The historical experience of the technocracy by the people is not esoteric and abstract knowledge, but it is concrete and bodily experience of the people, individually and collectively. Their knowledge is experiential, not theoretical. It is not merely rational, but perceptual.

We enlist some of the salient stories of the suffering people under the impact of the technocracy.

A) The Story of the Women Workers in Asia

Women workers are a paradigm of the suffering victims of the TNCs in Asia. Let us take the case of the Korean women workers. Women workers that work in the factories usually suffer from extremely poor working coditions and their wages very low. According to the Korean Government's Economic Planning Board, in 1977, 75.2% of the workers are living below the subsistence level.In a small survey carried out between May 1 and July 31, 1979, it was found that most men workers earned between 100,000 and 200,000 monthly while most women workers earned between 50,000 and 70,000. Not only the women's wages much less than that of men's, the women's working hours are also longer. This situations is particularly severe in the textile industry...

Over 100,000 workers are employed in the electronics industry, 905 of whom are young and unmarried women. Most of them find their eye-sight deteriorating rapidly due to intensive "scope" work. They also suffer from the chronic conjunctivitis which is often toxic gas pollution in the air. the workers are often required to work two to three hours overtime each day, and also nightshiftss. Sexual discriminationj against the women is demonstrated in the division of labour in the electronics industry. Assembly work is performed by women operatives under the supervision of male engineers and supervisors.

The story women workers are the same all over Asia, with unending sufferings. They come usually from very poor rural family. By the time they work several years in the factories such as in the textile or electronics industry, they bodies are almost in ruins.Then there is unemployment. Their rights are mutilated when they are fired for various reasons. After they are laid out, they do not have hay place to go but the bottom of the society, where they can be exploited bodily in the soc-called informal service sector. The prostitution is the prime example. They get caught in the bondage of the debt, physically illness, and human degradation. The is the other end of the technocracy. They bear the brunt of the burden of the technocratic planning of the so-called economic development.

B) The Story of the Atomic Bomb Victims

Given the potentential of the destruction of the military technocracy it is very relevant to know the story of the atomic bomb victims during the World War II.

The day when the atomic bomb exploded over the people in Kwangdo and Chang Ki* was the most terrible and tragic day in human history. It was the day when World War II ws fatefully decided; no, the end of world history became manifest in qualitative terms, for Korean Minjung numbering possibly as many as 70,000 suffered the 'ultimate' death as far as we are able to know. 40,000 nameless persons died and up to 30,000 survived with the curse of atomic disease on their bodies and spirits and in their very being.

Who are the Korean A-bomb victims? This question has escaped our perception and thinking even when we ask the most fundamental questions of human history today. It was their story, unrelated to us. Why? Because it is the most horrible part of the horrible event, and therefore the powers suppressed

the story of those of Korean origin who were bombed. Perhaps human consciousness is incapable of grasping this historical reality of ultimate death. Certainly we have no way of telling the story of the Korean atom bomb victims in terms of their total suffering. In human history there has never been another such experience. There is in some sense an epistemological impenetrability to the experience of suffering of the A-bombed Koreans. It is impossible to know the full story. If there is a way to know in part it is through their own telling of their own story of suffering. Even their own story of suffering cannot be fully known because of the inability to remember those experiences by the victims themselves. Their memories are somehow shut out.

Above all, they were victims of the deadly modern military technocracy, the fruit of which is history's most destructive weapon, the nuclear bomb. Modern military science and technology is behind the explosion of the bomb. The atom bomb is not just a bomb. It is a systemic reality that is worldwide in nature; it is the pinnacle of the giant global war machine. Those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the first victims of this world's giant 'death machine.

They were the Minjung who suffered most cruelly in World War II. The powers, the U.S. and Japan, fought for their own reasons; but these Koreans were cruelly innocent sufferers. It was the political and economic forces of the world that triggered the most tragic Second World War over the heads of these Korean A-bomb victims without their choice and even without their knowledge. They now shared the burden of th cold war pervading the Korean society in a very, very lonely way of life.

In life, in spirit and in body, these persons exist in a condition of disease, destruction and misery that is beyond imagination.

They do not have knowledge about their own disease which was caused by the atomic bomb. Their poverty and their disease form the most vicious cycle of life. The medical knowledge developed in Japan was not available.. Due to their disease and the prejudice against such disease, they cannot get married, and the married ones have had to get divorced, because their symptoms appear years later.

The bodily pain, disfiguration and destruction are practically beyond description.The loss of memory is a coqon phenomenon among the Korean atom bomb sufferers. Often they cannot remember their life in Japan and their direct experience of being bombed. Strangely,when they do remember,it isonly expressed in the Japanese language, which in turn makes them feel ashamed. When they remember their experiences, these are most often: - The sorrow of losing or being robbed of their national identity.- The memory of being taken away from their families as they were conscripted as forced laborers.- The memories of Japanese oppresion and hard labor.- The shame of being a prostitute.These memories surge up, and then a feeling of extreme sorrow, a sense of hopelessness, resignation, and helplessness sets into their lives. It is said that the atomic bomb disease is not inherited by the second generation, but strangely, the children of A-bomb victims suffered unexplained physical illnesses.

This is the bare frame of the social biography of the Minjung who suffered through the atom bomb explosion in 1945. They were 'conscripted prostitutes' to the colonial military in World War II; they were forced laborers in the military industries of Imperial Japan; they were forced migrants in search of work for survival. They were the children and families of these people. This social biography is the story of broken lives in terms of spirit, body, coqunity and history--the heritages of oppression and exploitation of the Yi dynasty rule, the destructive power of brutal colonialism, the horror of the atomic bomb. Its whole accompanying military technocracy, the matrix of world economic and political dynamics of World War II, and the political process surrounding the U.S., Japan and Korea--all these are directly related to the infinite and unfathomable suffering and death of the A-bombed Minjung.

It is our contention that the war victim's story tells more about the reality and quality of the suffering of the people than analyses of the technocratic military mega-machines. In the name of the national security the military technocracy is being expanded in an accelerating pace and in a fierce competition.

C) The stories of the people whose human rights are violated all too familiar. In the name of economic development, the political powers are instituting technological apparatus to suppress the people to prevent their participation and to control and manipulate their consciousness and opinion on the political matters.

This process manifests itself sometimes as the state intelligence or security apparatus or othertimes as the controlled media andinformation process, including public media.

D)The story of the people and coqunity, whose life have become miserable due to the corrosion of their cultural life and bombardment of coqercial information and values and outright cultural repression due to the policy and mechanism of cultural control and manipulation. Arnold Toynbee once warned that the Western technology will be corrosive of the non-Western civilizations, creating effects like ultra voilet or red lights or alien virus in the body. Theodore van Leewen once insited that the technocracy creates the totalistic political culture in combination with the ontocratic pattern of the civilizations.

E)The stories of the people, who are forced to be alienated from their natural abode, whose environments are destroyed and polluted and poisoned by the industrial chemicals and atomic-radiation, whose lifeline is threatened by the deforestization and pollution of the fishery are countless. From the stories from the minamata victims to the victims of Bhophal one can know the corrosive and poisonous relation between the human life and the natural, which has been created by the technocracy.

The Above stories are not islated stories, but they are closely inter-connected; and therefore, it is our belief and assumption that the stories of the people reveal the historical reality of the world, as they experience them. This means that this section needs to be filled the stories of the people themselves. Without listening and hearing the stories of the people no one can truely understand the historical reality of the people's experiences in the world.

The "Jungle"

The technocracy in its inner nature and its external impact can be likened to the mythical beings. The economic manifestation of the technocracy, such as the transnational corporations, can be parabolized as the Dynasau, which eats up other living things to grow and grows without limit. It is said that the Dynasau does not exist today, because it had to everything else for its survival and limitless growth. In fact the TNCs expands its operation and power almost without limit in the logic of the profit maximization. In the process, it exploits human beings and the nature.

The modern states, that are characterized as the technocratic organization to survive in the competition and rivarly with the enemy state(s), can be parabolized as the Leviathan. The Leviathan subjugates every power and every being, including deities, to garranttee its survival in the logic of the survival of the strongest. The national security doctrine, that absolutizes the state authority and the military technocracy, is indeed the manifestation of the inner logic of the Leviathan, that is the survival of the fitest or the most powerful. Thus, military technocracy is to create military mega-machines to perfect the weapon systems that maximize destruction, even the total destruction of the whole humanity, in the name of the security.

The lambs are without shepherds in this jungle. Shepherds are replaced by the leopards and wolfs. In this jungle the political leaders are not protectors of the people, but they are imitators of the Dynasau and Leviathan, which do not know how to care for the living, but know how to make humans and the living as their


In this jungle where the Dynasau and the Leviathan symbiotically co-habit to reenforce the logic of profit maximization and the logic of the survival of the fitest, there can be blooming of no real flowers. The cultures are corroded and one-dimentionalized. Jungle brings wasteland and desert, where there is no plants and flowers and life. The values to care the human and the natural life are destroyed by the logics of the profit and survival at all costs. The style of life is the conflict, rivarly, war, exploitation, oppression, manipulatioin and domination.

The parabolic symbolization of the technocracy is not the exact discription or analyses of the reality of the power of the technocracy, but it is to reveal the dynamics of its power in history. The technocracy creates the historical dynamics that turns the whole creation into the jungle and the desert, where the life cannot prosper.

In the third world context the dynamics of the jungle and the desert is far more firece, for those monstrous beings are invaders from the outside. The penetration of the technocracy, in the form of the TNCs, the military or the media of information and coqunication, makes totally corrosive of the coqunities, and cynically totalitarian of the state. There are no means to tame these firece dynamics of technocratic power.

The Garden -a theological reflection

It is in this context of history we are to reflect upon what God is doing in the world today.

The story of God is the story to hear the cry of the people, who are victimized by the Leviathan, the Dynasau, and the Leopard in the Jungle and Desert. In the story of the Exodus there is the cry of the Hebrew slaves, who are victimized the construction projets of the Pharaoh. In the story of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53, there is the cry of the captives and exiles in the Babylonian and Assyrian Empires. We see the dry bones in the valley of the political domination in the dream of Ezekiel(Ezekiel 37). We seen the scene of Daniel, who had been thrown into the cage of lions, which story symbolizes the fate of the people of God under the Greek Empire. We hear the lamentations of Rachel in the scene of the Herodian massacre of the innocent babes in Bethlehem uner the tyranny of the Roman Empire. The story of the crucifixtion of Jesus of Nazareth reveals the cry of humanity in the midst of the jungle. The vision of the Revelation 13 amplify the reality of the power of the Roman Empire.

The victims of the Leopards and Leviathans are the people, whom God cares. God created the Garden, and he is gardener and he made humans according to God's image, that is, as gardener. The God's saving work is to transform the jungle and desert into the garden, where there is full of justice, freedom, love and shalom. In the Divine Garden there is true integrity of creation, which includes justice and shalom.

The story of the creation, which center piece is the garden,is to overcome the chaos of the jungle. The vision of Isaiah the prophet(Isaiah 11:1-9) is none other than that of the garden. The vision of St. John(Rev. 21:1-4) is also the city garden. It is the garden where God dwells with the people of God. Gardening of life of justice and shalom is the very act of God to dwell with the people of God. The death and the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah is the overcoming of the jungle of death and recovering of the garden of life. The story of the creation is not the tale of the start of the world, bot it is the story of the victory of the God's Garden over the jungle of chaos and domination. The eschatological vision of the Revelation 21 is the very overcoming of the Leviathan and God's dwelling with the people of God in justice and peace and in harmony in the universe. It is the oppression of the Tower of the Babel in the center of the jungle that has been overthrown by the act of the Holy Spirit to create coqunion(koinonia) and coqunication. This is the great beginning of the Christian church -- the coqunion of the saints, which is the gardener of the love, justice and peace in the created order of God.

Christian coqunity as the Gardener of Life of justice and Shalom Christioan coqunity as the ecumenical movment for justice, peace and integrity of creation is a movement to garden the justice, koinonia and shalom in the universe. In this context we recognize that the subject of the gardening is the people of God, and at the same time the all the created, not merely human, are the participants in the Garden. It has been the sins of the Leviathan and Dynasau not only to make all humans as objects of exploitation and oppression, but it is also the sin to make the created things the object of the exploitation, for these sins are to turn the God's created garden into the jungle.

This theological perspective has a profound implications for the correction of the scientific epistemology, which tends to regard as the objective and objectifying process, although nowadays there are efforts to correct this situation among the scientists and philosophers of science. Perhaps the analytical methods needs to be corrected because they tend to be making fallacies to generalize the limited hypotheses beyond their proper scope. These fallacies also distort the integrated whole of the experiences in which the created order, the human and natural, is injvolved together as active participating agents in the drama of God's Gardening.

Now the technocracy should be consceived as a creative work to garden the justice, koinonia and shalom in the universe as God has created and been creating. It should not be instruments of the simple profit maximization and the logic of the survival of the mightiest. Perhaps this requires a radical reorganization of the human coqunity in which the coqunity of science and technology is an agent of gardening the universe.

In the context of the Asian civilization, we discern various religious and cultural resources for such gardening, which have been rising among the peoples' movments. The great Confucian vision of the great peace and prosperity has been appropriated by the people's strsuggle to overcome the domination by the powers that be, whether it is the Confucian autocracy or foreign colonial power. An example of this is found in the peasant movement of T'aiping in 19th century China. The other example is found in the Silhak(Realist) School of Korean Confucianism.

Then there is a Buddhist school, which envisions the Western Paradise, or the Pure Land for the suffering people. In the Pure Land there is the whole harmony for all the living and there will be no longer the suffering. Teh Buddhist tradition depicts the present as the sea of the susffering rising out of the greed, which cousin is the institutionalized greed of profit maximization. Particularly, the School of Maitreya Buddha has been very powerfyl religious and spiritual inspiration among the poor and oppressed, for this Buddha is the friend of the coqon people. Many of the peoples's movments in Asia had been related to this School of Buddhist thought.

Then, there is the Taoist tradition, which regards the perfect harmony between the human, the natural and supernatural. The Tao, which is the pervasive way of all the universe, is the principle of the natural, not artificial, harmony. Taoist vision of the world is truely that of the perfect garden, in which the human live with longevity, like an angelic being. Therefore, the world is the garden of angels. As Taoist sees the world, the present world is that of arbirary and artificial reality, in which the humans strsuggle afainst each other. The Taoist teachings are particularly influencial among the coqon the people to the point what in becomes mixed up with popular beliefs of shamism, animism and so on.

There are other religious and spiritual traditions, that hold the vision of the future as justice and peace in Asia. Here we cannot ennumerate them all. However, it is very clear that the Asian peoples have rich religious and cultural resources that have been nutured in the midst of their long sufferings.

In the light of the Biblical vision of the Garden of Justice, Shalom, and Harmony(Integrity) of Creation, these religious and cultural resources, particulary appropriated by the poor and oppressed, can be revitalized to be flowers, fruits and even roots of various elements in the Garden of God, in which humans are gardeners.

The Garden has been turned into the Jungle. Now the Dynasau and Leviathan have to be subjugated to the God the Gardener, and the injured human coqunity and natural order have to be healed and revitalized, and the Spirit of the life must be filled so that there may be true justice, koininia, and shalom in the Garden. This is the task of the people of God in God's Oikoumene, which is God's dwelling among the people in the created world.

In this garden the shepherd replaces the leopards to tend the sheep; and the servant replaces the masters, and Leviathan is replaced by the Lamb, who is the Sacrificial Lord. In this way the oppressive political order, unjust exploitation, war for security and survival, and harmony with the nature will be expelled from the created order of God, and justice, peace, and integrity of creation will be fulfilled in the Garden of God.  

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