[EDITORIALS]Mr. Carter's example

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[EDITORIALS]Mr. Carter's example

The Nobel Peace Prize this year went to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The recognition highlighted another side of the U.S. presence in the international community, even as the last remaining superpower becomes increasingly criticized for its often one-sided diplomacy and escalation of military pressure against Iraq.

The award is a restatement that U.S. leadership in the international community does not merely come from its military or economic might; it is a recognition, even as President George W. Bush is criticized around the world, that the U.S. leadership has a commanding presence as a purveyor of peace, human rights and ethical values.

The selection of Mr. Carter will induce envy among Koreans, especially because Mr. Carter has been respected more for his activities after leaving office than his accomplishments as president. Armed with a hammer and nails, he has thrown himself personally into helping people who need housing by leading volunteers and future occupants to build homes. He has also been consistently committed to working for world peace and improving human rights. His work is not only beautiful in its commitment to greater social justice; it is also a reflection of the other side of the United States that compensates for its weakness and shortcomings. His work has certainly contributed to bringing American society closer together and elevating its conscience about the world.

Korea has four living former presidents; sadly, none of them has been recognized for working to heal social conflict and mend divisions or to raise the country's standing in the international community. Instead they perpetuate their glory years by keeping their influence through factional politics and refuse to humbly become part of the past.

It would be good to see former presidents working to better the lives of the people, detaching themselves from politics and quietly guiding and leading the neglected and the unfortunate into the future.

Our political leaders must recognize the importance of today's actions to allow themselves to leave politics behind with their office. That is the simple lesson on reality that they can learn from Mr. Carter's Nobel Peace Prize.
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