[EDITORIALS]Elders need self-control

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[EDITORIALS]Elders need self-control

The nation’s progressive elders have come forward to back the abolition of the National Security Law. They argue that those who oppose abolition of the law are figures who previously watched over and oppressed the public, based on that law.
Their statement is a response to a declaration announced a week ago by conservative elders. The ideological and generational split has deepened with this administration. It is embarrassing to see the country’s elders drawing battle lines.
It is desirable that a society’s elders speak out on important issues in that society. Their diverse experiences and expertise contribute to improving society. But the basic assumption here is that elders should act like elders. When 1,500 conservative forces gathered to declare their opposition to abolishing the National Security Law, they must have done so out of sincere concern for their country. But their calls for nullify the June 15 Joint Communique between the two Koreas and their statements about another impeachment move against President Roh Moo-hyun went overboard and eroded the purity of their action.
But the progressive elders’ actions do not differ very much. It is not pleasant to watch them criticize the conservative elders as persons steeped in Cold War thinking, and forcing silence upon them by mentioning their past. We have gotten a glimpse of the progressive elders’ arrogance.
The conservative elders have said that they will tour the country and hold lectures and rallies to push their cause. We ask that they restrain themselves. And what were they attempting to achieve with their recent announcement that more have signed on to their declaration and the number is now pushing 1,600? The two groups seem engaged in a competition to lure more supporters to their respective camps. If the society’s elders, the wise and the experienced, rush to divide and enlarge their respective camps, what are we to expect?
The words and deeds of an elder should be as weighty as 1,000 pounds of gold. They are respected for their wisdom. What is the younger generation to learn from their elders ― one group that led the country’s industrialization, and the other that led the country’s democratization ― if they attack and criticize each other? Tolerance and self-control are the least of democratic principles that a democratic society should maintain.
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