[ROSTRUM]Instruction is a beacon for childrenI keep thinking about a recent story of an elementary school student who was rescued after being missing for 40 hours on Mount Jiri. The boy, when he was frightened at night, is said to have reminded himself of his father’s words that “there are no scary animals in the mountains of our country,” and he slept in the holes between rocks. When it rained at night, he remembered that his father said, “If you fall asleep in the rain you could die from hypothermia,” and he stayed awake all night with his sleeping bag pulled over himself.
The boy who made it through each crisis remembering his father’s words is praiseworthy, but I was more curious about the father, who made his son carry his own heavy backpack and lead the way through the mountain, teaching him the tactics and proper attitude needed for mountaineering.
Cho Seok-yun (1605-1654), who later became a renowned civil servant, went to Seoul to take care of a private matter. Someone told his father, Cho Jung-ho, that he saw the boy board a defective boat that then sank in the Han River, with everyone on board drowning. The father kept his countenance at the sad news and said, “Why whould my son get on a rotten boat? You must have mistaken someone else as my son.” Even though the man said he was sure he saw the son get on the boat, the father said, “Let’s wait and see.” A while later, the son returned safe and sound. The boy said that he did get on the boat, but saw that it was dangerous and changed to another boat.
Imagine how distraught the parents of the missing child must have been when they were looking for their son for 40 hours. For the missing boy, the instruction his father gave him when they went climbing together became a strong safety net, like a light in the dark night.
Great trust is not created overnight. Respect and love that have accumulated over a long period of time are behind the trust that makes a son believe his father’s words and a father have faith in his son’s actions.
We are now living in an age when people do not listen carefully to advice from elders but rather sneer. Children no longer listen to their parents. It does, in fact, make sense that parents’ words have no power because parents these days are not good role models.
Parents think their child is special. They do not want their children to get their hands dirty, and they are afraid that their children will fall and get hurt. However, the world is rougher than climbing Mount Jiri at night, and more dangerous than crossing a river in a rotten boat. People only give good things to their children, but this could be poison, not medicine. People do not realize that their children can accidentally fall off a cliff while wandering in the mountain at night, if they are not properly educated.
* The writer is a professor of Chinese literature at Hanyang University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Chung Min