[FOUNTAIN]An apple can help us heal"Weon Hye-yeong, I am sorry I called you a fool."
"Do-hyeong, Seung-muk and Gwang-yeol, I am sorry I harassed you."
"Teacher, I am sorry called you to trick you."
"I am really sorry I said you looked like a chief of an African tribe."
"Mom, I will be a good person from now on. I will listen to you, Yujin."
Do not be surprised if you have received these epistles in a bag along with apples. Last Thursday was "Apple Day," when two persons apologized to each other and reconciled. In Korean, the word for apple and the one for apology are pronounced the same. An old Korean saying states, "It is difficult to kill a begging warrior."
The apples sent by those who participated in the inaugural ceremony for Apple Day in Daehak-ro last Sunday already have been delivered to you. The apples were delivered with hope that those who sent them and those who received them would reconcile. The committee formed to end violence in schools, which created Apple Day, distributed 3,500 organically produced apples. This means that around 7,000 people, both senders and recipients were given another chance.
Nonghyup, the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, donated apples to the procdrive and distributed 50,000 apples last Thursday free in Myeongdong, central Seoul, and various places nationwide.
When the upward spiral in school violence resulted in a murder, the perception was formed that the perpetrators are as much victims as the victims themselves and society is responsible. Eighty associations, mainly adolescent groups, came together to establish the committee on May 22. After various campaigns, including signature-collecting drives, and demands for legislation, the committee came to the conclusion that we needed to basically change our society, in which people avoid apologizing.
Conflict starts with small mistakes. Since we are not used to accepting our faults, we overlook them sometimes out of shyness, thinking that they are trivial. The closer we are to someone, the more we overlook the slights we subject them to. We often miss a chance for introspection, and small mistakes grow. Displeasure and anger grow to become hatred. The habit of not apologizing soon enough often leads to disaster.
Despite the celebration of numerous anniversaries, Apple Day is a delight because it encourages open exchanges of apologies without feeling awkwardness. I hope Apple Day lasts forever. Like St. Valentine's Day and White Day, I hope Apple Day will take off in our society as an opportunity for reconciliation. I hope Oct. 24 is the day of overflowing apples at homes, schools and workplaces. I hope people show tolerance and the belief that human beings can make mistakes but be forgiven through apologies and reconciliation. Let us think about the past for a while, with eyes shut facing east, the origin of each new day. If a corner of the mind reveals our missteps, let's deliver apples before it gets dark.
The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.
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