[EDITORIALS]Lions shouldn’t roar like this“Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?” Helen Keller beseeched in a speech that she gave at the Ninth International Convention of the Lions Club in 1925.
After that, Lions clubs began volunteer work for the blind and have been doing so ever since. Now, the international association is the largest volunteer group in the world, with 43,811 clubs and about 1.4 million members. Even in Korea, there are 15 chapters and about 1,300 clubs.
In such a volunteer group, however, bribery was uncovered in certain chapters of Seoul related to the election of a club president. Candidates agreed to withdraw from the race in return for 2 billion won ($2 million). Members of the group that raised allegations of bribery presented evidence to the media, including copies of bank account books, tape recordings and letters of agreement for withdrawals from the race. How praiseworthy is a person who tried to become a representative of a volunteer group by spending billions of won?
Even if billions of won went back and forth, the matter would not be so much of an issue since it is difficult to pin down such private dealings by law. There would be no problem if the money was reported to the tax office, and the source of the money was clear. However, regardless of whether the act was legitimate or not, these dealings do not adhere to the founding purpose or activities of the Lions Club. Such acts should never have taken place, let alone been imagined. It shames the organization and disgraces Korea.
The people who were involved in the bribes acknowledged their acts, but claimed that it was a “custom” and that they did not violate the law. That this was a custom surprises us even more. The president of those who gather together to tend to unfortunate members of society should be a position that requires great self-sacrifice. Does it make sense that bribes in billions of won were customary to earn such a position? What is so lucrative about it?
We could imagine that people acted this way because they expected that the position of club head would raise their reputation and be a useful experience in preparing to run for public office. Even so, however, it is difficult to understand.