[FOUNTAIN]Expressions and reality must merge“The best expression is one that competes with reality.” As Goethe said, we often feel tension between reality and expressions. Reality has its own dynamics, and expressions have their own logic. The two have exclusive worlds of their own. But when they are distant from each other, both are crippled. Expressions that disagree with reality are foolish, and reality that is not expressed is meaningless.
Meaninglessness or foolishness does not have power. In order to have influence, you need to jump into the drifting reality and find meaningful expressions. A good expression is discovering a meaning from reality that even the reality was not aware of. The expression that competes with reality has a tension that approaches reality but is not overwhelmed by it. When the tension is the highest, we get the best expression.
Politicians who successfully led states used great expressions that offered strength and impressions in the harsh reality. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt assured the Americans at the depth of the Great Depression that they had “nothing to fear but fear itself.” The citizens responded to the president’s remark with trust, and the outflow of deposits from the banks on the verge of bankruptcy was subdued. Americans followed with a nationwide saving movement to help the banks. President Roosevelt won the trust of citizens by truthfully expressing the fearful reality. At the same time, he found the mental fear in the situation and proposed the precise point of reality that should be overcome. He found an expression to change reality.
When General Lee Sun-sin was appointed to lead the navy during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592, he said, “Your Majesty’s servant has 13 ships.” His remark was about the reality, but he changed the situation by admitting it. When he was only left with 13 ships, he sought a strategy to maximize their strength. He was not disappointed by the pessimistic reality but did not trust himself rashly.
I would like to hear a great expression that can break the harshness of today’s reality. The president’s often sound foolish because they are too far removed from reality. The prime minister condemned the Grand National Party but his criticism lacks new information and is thus meaningless. Most opponents only express the reality they like to see and reproduce the reality of hatred.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
More in Columns
A new epicenter of social conflict
Lessons from a president
Tales of Chairman Lee
Chinese way of tackling challenges
Time to step up climate action