We are living in an age of great transition in which the victimization of people is proceeding on a larger scale than ever before. There is hunger and economic hardship, increasing political violence despite the democratic facade and subjugation of people in ever more subtle and sophisticated ways. Genuine security, harmony and justice are being eroded by social violence; Qhe rich exploit the poor; and the powerful oppress the powerless. Even the so-called liberal democratic process seems incapable of taming the big military, political and economic powers which are causing suffering. The aggressive worldwide penetration by the global media that is controlled by the United States and other Western powers is leading to peoples loss of identity, confusion over life values, distortion of lifestyles and a deepening sense of futility. Religious communities, once a base of stability and meaningfulness, are being weakened by religious fanaticism, on the one hand, and religious escapism, on the other. It is in this difficult reality that todays people must struggle to live meaningful and authentic lives.
As we encounter different situations in our day-to-day lives, we are always reminded that we need some kind of ideological or theological guidelines to help us understand the issues that confront us with the hope of resolving the problems we face in life. Similarly, in the ecumenical movement, we need to do more theological reflection on our ongoing programs in order to ensure that our work is proceeding on the right path. However, we recognize too that it is difficult to find solutions to the host of problems with which we have to grapple and struggle.
Fortunately, we have some outstanding people among us who are endowed with the capability to deal with the ecumenical agenda comprehensively. One such person is Kim Yong-Bock, who over the years has been able to provide clear directions for the ecumenical movement along with multiple strategies for the peoples movements. His timely and stimulating arguments on various relevant issues are greatly appreciated by those who know him through the many presentations he has made at ecumenical gatherings.
This book, a collection of Kims papers on a wide spectrum of concerns, is an invitation to us to join him in the search for new directions and strategies for the ecumenical movement.
I am thankful personally for the longstanding, deep friendship I have had with Kim Yong Bock starting from the late-1960s and the 1970s when we struggled together in the Korean movement of Christian students and faculty against dictatorship and continuing with the broader concerns of the 1980s and 1990s. I believe that this book will be another excellent contribution to action groups, confirming that the proper place of the intellectual movement in Asia is among the people, fully sharing their life.