[FOUNTAIN]No choice in terms of nation’s callRejection is a declaration of independence, a confirmation of self existence. You can only reject something when you have clear distinction of your territory in your mind and spirit. When you don’t have a clear sense of ego, you cannot reject the request of the other. A skillful rebuff is an art. When you provide convincing reasons and display polite manners, rejection can be a charming trick. You can avoid offending anyone with an artful rejection. After you refuse the offer, the two sides might have more respect for each other.
Representative Kim Hyo-seuk of Democratic Party had a refreshing manner when he rejected the president’s offer for the job of deputy prime minister for education. It must not be an easy task to refuse an offer extended by the country’s chief executive. Mr. Kim made a personal visit to President Roh Moo-hyun. He frankly spoke that education was not his field of specialty, and as a member of an organization, he cannot but think of the position of his party. The ground for all his judgments, actions and speeches was Kim’s inner world. The sincere decision ― unaffected by outside influences ― made his rejection valuable.
Just as rejection is an art, acceptance is a virtue. Just like a religious calling, the calling of the community often requires personal sacrifice.
The most successful case of deserting factional ties and accepting an offer from the president was David Gergen under the Clinton Administration. Mr. Gergen had worked for successive Republican presidents, working at White House for Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. When Bill Clinton, a Democrat, asked him to serve as an adviser, the Republican journalist accepted after long contemplation. Mr. Clinton desperately needed a competent and experienced adviser who could effectively deal with Congress and the media, which regarded the president with contempt. There was no better man than Mr. Gergen.
Die-hard Republicans called Mr. Gergen a traitor. However, Mr. Gergen said that as a Republican from the South, he grew up with the conviction that every citizen must answer the nation’s call. Since the U.S. president had personally offered him the job, he must accept it.
Whether you choose to reject or accept, the choice has its own value.
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