[EDITORIALS]Filial Piety Not an Outdated Virtue

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[EDITORIALS]Filial Piety Not an Outdated Virtue

The results of a public opinion poll by the Korean Committee for Unicef released Wednesday are shocking. They show that youth in Korea are rapidly losing a sense of respect for their elders. The poll asked young people in East Asian and Pacific countries about how much they respect their elders. More than 10,000 people between the ages of 9 and 17 were asked to respond to the statement, "I respect those who are older." More people in Korea - 20 percent - than anywhere else responded "I don't agree at all." An average of 2 percent responded that way in other East Asian countries, indicating how much respect for elders in our society has eroded. What is more, almost no Korean youth, asked whom they respected, answered "my teachers." Even considering the possibility of misunderstanding in translating the questionnaire, it is clear that ours has become a society where respect for those who can influence youth is quickly disappearing.

The feeling of respect comes through another person's character, thoughts and behavior. In respecting somebody, we learn and follow the values represented by that person through our youth. It is an important part of growing up. To have a feeling of respect disappear from the minds of our youth is to have that much less hope that our younger generation will grow up learning from respectable role models.

Failures by adults have to be an important part of the reason for these poll results. At the root of a feeling of respect is trust. But ours is a society that has been torn by conflicting interests and selfishness, and there is very little trust to go around. Whether it is in the leadership of society or in working class neighborhoods, adults are busy fighting for their own interests, oblivious to the effect their actions have on younger people. It is obvious that the ugliness of the actions of grown-ups has played a large part in erasing a sense of respect among young people.

But there is a bright spot in the findings. More young people in Korea picked their fathers as the person they respect the most, above the respondents in any other country in the poll. That shows there is still hope. We call on fathers to lead their children, to infuse them with love for others and to help them learn to respect others.
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