[NOTEBOOK]Confession and forgivenessWhat is the greatest love of all? Perhaps it is a parent’s love of his children. However severely parents scold them, it is motivated by love, and even if they discipline them with a rod, it is also motivated by love. What is the secret of love? Perhaps, it is to forgive. If there is forgiveness, there will be no room for hatred. Why do parents forgive their children? Children are their bloodline. Parents regard their children as another “self,” not another person. Children’s sicknesses cause more pain than their own sickness. This is what parents are all about. So the hearts of parents who scold are more pained than the hearts of children who are scolded. No parents in the world are different in this respect.
Now let’s think about the relationship between political power and the people. Where does the power come from? It comes from the people and grows amid their care. No political power is an exception. The power can be compared to children and the people to parents. Given that, I wonder why on earth there is no love between power and the people. I wonder why there is no forgiveness between them. I wonder why we Koreans are particularly unforgiving of power?
Let’s recall former President Kim Dae-jung. The Kim Dae-jung administration was not healthy; it was disgraced as a corrupt administration. Two of the president’s sons were convicted of crimes. The closest people to the president were also arrested. And actual power-holders in his administration were involved in scandals. His government was not fair either. It gave the impression that it picked sides. Whether it was intended or not, the result was the same. It was pointed out that the president lopsidedly appointed people from the Honam region, where he came from. Because of that, many people were deprived of opportunities to serve, and that worsened regional antagonisms.
His administration was not transparent. It secretly handed money to North Korea. Whether it gained something or not in return, his government deceived the people. Whatever the reason, the government was alienated from a friend; it caused damage to the friendly relations between South Korea and the United States. Finally, Mr. Kim’s is even called a failed administration. Of course, there were some tasks they did well, but I will not list them because it is not necessary to do so. There has been enough controversy over that matter. There is no need to blur the focus with such controversy. I don’t want to discuss the faults and merits of the Kim Dae-jung administration. I just suggest that all of us think back. As we treat our children from the perspective of parents, let’s treat the Kim Dae-jung administration the same way. The administration came into being by the choice of our people. Therefore, whether we like it or not, it is the child of our people. If we think Mr. Kim’s administration a failure, let’s try considering it from the perspective of parents with failed children. We may hold our rod to scold them, but wouldn’t it break our hearts?
Let’s take the United States, for example. Bill Clinton was once driven into a crisis of being threatened with ouster from the White House because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. According to a poll of U. S. citizens at that time, 75 percent of the respondents said, “Because he admitted his faults, we no longer want his resignation.” That is not to say that they forgave Mr. Clinton as a natural person: 62 percent answered, “But we do not support him as a human being.” Americans only forgave him as the president. They forgave the power because they created the power themselves. In addition, they could forgive him because he confessed his fault. Who would expel his children when they admit their mistakes? This is a rule for forgiveness. There is no forgiveness without repentance. Also, there is no repentance without confession.
The Kim Dae-jung administration should also confess its faults. It should make public the truth of the cash transfer scandal and ask forgiveness. This is the least thing it should do as a child of the people. Then people could also treat it from the perspective of parents. But even if the confession is delayed, let’s not hold the rod first. Aren’t parents patient people?
* The writer is political news editor of the JoonAng Ilbo.
by Lee Youn-hong