[VIEWPOINT]Dreaming of sheep to find peaceThere was a farewell lecture by a professor in political science and foreign relations at Sogang University last week. The professor is retiring at the end of this year, and his lecture was filled with wisdom culled from a lifetime of experience and scholarship.
The professor ended his lecture by saying, "To make this a better and more peaceful world, this has to be a place where good people have more power, and people with power become good. Peace will then come naturally to this world."
A world where powerful people come to have goodness of heart and where good people come to have more power; the professor presented this in a conditional sentence, which says, in other words, that we live in a world where good people do not have power. Not only that, but this is a world where good gets stepped on, used by others and then stripped of whatever opportunity it has to win power, since good people's voices are suppressed.
Soon we begin the year of the sheep, a good animal. Here I have a tale about sheep that I read somewhere.
God created the world, and one day a rabbit came to him bringing a honeybee. "God, please do something about the honeybee," the rabbit said. "He keeps stinging for the smallest reason, and I cannot stand it."
And God said, "Is that so? I'll give him just one sting for his whole life. Honeybee, you will use it only for something that's worth sacrificing your life."
Then a sheep came to God. "God, all the other animals bother me so much, and I cannot take it," the sheep said. "And I don't have anything to defend myself."
God said, "You are right. I made you too good. I will give you sharp teeth so you can bite and I will also give you sharp nails. How would you like that?" The sheep replied, startled, "Oh, no. I don't want to be a predator and hunt and eat weak animals. I am content with eating grass and drinking the morning dew."
Then God said, "Do you want venom in your mouth?" "No, that is worse," the sheep said. "I do not want to be like snakes with venom hidden in their mouths, hurting others." "Then how about horns?" "No, I do not want them, either. Goats always use their horns to attack others."
God felt lost. "I don't know what to do with you then," God said. "There must be something you can have to fight off others who try to hurt you, so that you can defend yourself."
"If that is so," the sheep said, "then, God, just leave me be. If I have the power to hurt others, I will want to use it. I will just remain weak and be hurt rather than hurt others."
Perhaps the story provides a fitting lesson for a new year since we have a new president.
May the world in the new year be a place for good, upright ordinary people to live peacefully, free from abuses by powerful people for the sake of amassing more power and wealth. What is interesting is the Chinese character for the word "beautiful" is a combination of the characters "large" and "sheep." It is curious what led the Chinese to conceive the idea of beauty from "large sheep."
My imagination tells me that it would perhaps be a better world if sheep had enough to feed on, that is if the good had enough good things to proliferate. That world would be a place where there is no war, violence or prejudice. Perhaps the character embodies the hope by the Chinese for a beautiful and peaceful world.
Let us join together to work for a better world where the good will become powerful, in the year of plump sheep.
* The writer is a professor of English literature at Sogang University.
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