[VIEWPOINT]Sports can increase world's woes

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[VIEWPOINT]Sports can increase world's woes

The world's largest sports festival, the World Cup games, is progressing splendidly in Korea. All Koreans are cheering their national team in harmony and shouting for joy at its repeated good performances.

That pleases many people around the world as well as Koreans themselves. Some foreigners say that they should learn from the attitude of Koreans during the World Cup games.

But if a nation's people focuses excessively on the national team's victories, they will easily surrender themselves to nationalism or racism, and that is far from the original aim -- harmony among the world's people ?of international sports events.

Accordingly, I warn of chauvinism, because all Koreans are very excited at the games. It might seem absurd to promote understanding and respect between countries through sport matches in which countries "fight" for the championship. If each country's people are obses-sed with victories by its national team, the tournament could bring about conflicts between countries. So we should look out for a national superiority complex.

The World Cup is only an exchange involving sports. Senegal beat France to reach the second round of the World Cup, but that did not double the national income of Senegal or reduce the territory of France by a single hectare. Instead, the people of Senegal feel some catharsis because a weak country beat France, and its people now have a dream that there has been a substantial achievement for their country.

Mankind currently has many problems, including terrorist attacks, international disputes, poverty, disease, violations of human rights and the destruction of the environment. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, every country is adopting nationalistic policies to give priority to protecting its safety and securing itself from outside aggression. Right-wing politicians are coming to power in all countries, and the basic tone of policy and public opinion are turning to the political right.

In Japan, the prime minister has visited the Yasukuni Shrine for the country's war dead despite strong opposition from Korea and China. Japan is also reinforcing its military, beautifying the Pacific War, recognizing the leadership of its emperor and asserting its rights to Dokto islet.

In France, Jean-Marie Le Pen's ultraright-wing party made a strong showing in the first round of recent elections, surprising the world.

In other European countries such as Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands, right-wing parties that espouse racism and anti-immigration policies are advancing.

It is the most serious problem for mankind that the world's countries are becoming more nationalistic and turning to the right. We should tolerate different thinking and different cultures from our own, and different people and different countries from us. If we do not, we give up love, respect, understanding and sympathy for others and finally we forget or lose our humanity. We should make harmony among all countries to recover that humanity. We should escape from World Cup hooliganism and chauvinism.

Our attitude toward the United States should neither be unconditionally pro-American nor anti-American. Such extreme attitudes come from only emotion. Some people say Koreans should be neutral toward the United States and only take an interest in its relations with that country. To do so, we have to better understand the motives that drive American thinking.

Freedom, safety, justice, peace and prosperity, goals we pursue, are not only for Koreans but also for mankind. We should make efforts to maximize the total value of human society based on mutual cooperation. We can do so only through recovering our humanity, based on love, respect, understanding and sympathy for each other.

I believe that Korea will complete the World Cup games splendidly. But what is more important is Korea's new role. As a member of the axis of virtue and strength, Korea should play a major role to achieve freedom, safety, justice, peace and prosperity for global society through recovering and improving its humanity.


The writer is a visiting professor of finance at Seoul National University.

by Chang Suk-jung

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