[OUTLOOK]Next time, try listening firstIt is a regrettable thing. The government’s plan to build a new capital was derailed when the Constitutional Court found it to be unconstitutional. While the general reaction to the court’s ruling was a welcoming one, there were some who criticized it as “arrogant,” and even irrational accusations suggesting that the judges themselves run the country. But the court’s ruling is like spilled milk. There should be no crying over it.
With the plan to build a new capital, a promise the president had made during his election campaign, thus interrupted, the government and the governing party have sustained great disappointment and political damage. The residents of the Chungcheong provinces, where the new capital was to be built, have reason to be angry. We have suffered real damage in the enormous waste of national energy, the psychological panic and the aggravation of antagonism in society that have been caused by the friction over this issue. If so, who is there to take responsibility for this damage? Maybe it is useless to even think about such things at this point. Nevertheless, no one will criticize us for thinking today’s matter over for the good of the near future.
The most regrettable thing about this incident was that although the transfer of the capital was a very important national project that the government so vocally supported, the government had adamantly refused to listen to different opinions from all levels of society, the majority of which had opposed the plan. The government cannot escape the criticism that it overreached, pursuing the plan in a hardline, one-sided manner.
You are bound to get indigestion if you eat too fast, and whatever you undertake, if you push it one-sidedly without listening to different opinions first, you are bound to meet unexpected trouble and obstacles. In this case, if you stigmatize everyone who opposes you as immoral and reactionary, you will become more and more egotistical without knowing it. Isn’t this how the politics of co-existence and compromise, which the president emphasized so in his inauguration address, disappeared without a trace to become something insignificant?
When I was a little boy, there was a doctor who had set up his practice in our small town. As he was the only doctor in town, he would often get calls in the middle of the night from families who pleaded with him to come and see someone they were sure was about to die. When he got those calls, the doctor didn’t panic along with the family members who were becoming frantic and yelling in fright. The more frantic the calls and pleas, the calmer the doctor remained, taking his time in getting dressed, even insisting on putting on a tie. He always said that if he panicked along with the families, he would probably rush over to the patient’s house only to find that he’d left his bag behind, or an important tool or medicine that he should have brought along. Having come a long way, by the time he’d made the discovery, it would have been too late. This is a piece of wisdom that could only come from a doctor who’d had the experience of practicing in the remote countryside for a long time.
If the government listens to the public opinion, and believes that this opinion is indeed the wish of the majority of the people, it should transcend the rift between progressivism and conservatism and mull the matter over carefully before reaching a conclusion.
We fix things, make new things and get rid of old things because we want to make our country a better place. No one would rashly slander and hinder such efforts. Whether it is a law or a system, even if it contains only the best and most beautiful things in the world, it will only shine and last a long time if it reckons with the reality of society and wins a widespread consensus. This is a universal truth. That is why, no matter what political motive or objective there might be, the government should not act so hurriedly, as if lightning were going to strike if a conclusion weren’t reached right away.
* The writer is a novelist. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Kim Ju-yeong
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