[OUTLOOK]The hope for a better countryThe world has changed. The elections brought about such changes, and Korean society has matured as a result. Losers will endlessly spew out excuses and rationales for their defeat ― President Roh’s impeachment, candlelight vigils, populism, the broadcast media, and so on.
Such excuses, however, only make them hopeless losers. No one caused their fall. Pointing fingers only insults the public and shows that they still have not figured it out. The losers must accept the election result as the sincere will of each and every one of us. Accepting the outcome is what democracy is all about. The losers should graciously concede defeat and congratulate the winners. Only after swallowing defeat can they prepare for a victory next time.
Those on the losing side should be ready to applaud the winners. What is the reason for our struggle and conflict? It is all because we wanted the best for Korea, to make Korea a much better, wealthier and more beautiful nation. What we fought over was the method, not the objective.
The people wanted different players. Until now, the social structure had the conservatives in the mainstream, held in check by the progressives, but now the roles have been reversed. Now our hope is for the new mainstream to do a much better job. We should be ready to applaud when the new players make our country a much better place.
For that, anxiety has no place. Doubts cast on their leadership capability should be shed. We must escape from the terrors of the past. Once bitten, twice shy, the saying goes, but the time when we rejected progressivism automatically because we were afraid of communism is gone now. The majority of Koreans showed this through the elections. People wanted change, and the public will should be accepted humbly.
The losers should leave the spotlight and look back on what went wrong. They should prepare for the moment when people call them back. I believe that the reason for the conservatives’ defeat was because they lacked a dream, while the progressives had one. Whether that dream is of equality or nationalism, they withstood all hardship to make that dream come true.
Young students taught by unionized teachers grew up to become political activists in colleges and now the main actors in Korean politics. On the other hand, the conservatives obsessively clung to what they had, rather than have a new dream. The conservatives’ justification for their hold on power was that the others were dangerous. They were like stagnant water that began to reek, and they had no interest in their aspirations.
Dragging grown children to the polling place and bullying and pleading with them to vote for the candidate of their parents’ choice is not a solution. Children should be told of their parents’ dream. That dream is freedom and democracy. Our children should realize that there is freedom that cannot be suppressed in the name of a group or the masses. Our dream is to live in a dignified and cultured country.
Our objective is to build a country where educated, decent people are respected, not some lowbrow thugs who don’t care about education. We wish for a wealthier and fairer country, not a poorer but equal society. The way to achieve that objective is not a radical overturn of the current situation, but a gradual transformation. Our dream is for us to have a heart. That means not demanding that the government and society be responsible for the jobs we should have done ourselves.
What that dream entails is for us to do the best we can in any given situation and help each other. We must make people believe that such a dream is valuable. When there are more people dreaming such dreams, they will gather together to turn those dreams into reality.
Dreams provide power for overcoming difficulties. I do not want hardship to come before us and for our country to fall into chaos. I wish for the meaningless feud between the rightists and leftists to end and for them to devote themselves to making people’s lives better. Such matters should be handled in the National Assembly.
There should not be any abuse of power outside of the parliament, and even within the National Assembly there should not be any unconstitutional legislation forced by the majority.
Nonetheless, we should brace for possible hardship. We should not become weak, buckling under the reality without a fight, or naive, looking for the good in everything. Nor should we be frightened into compromising or surrendering prematurely.
We should not give up what should not be given up. Whatever difficulties may come our way, we can overcome them as long as we have a dream to pursue.
* The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk