[OUTLOOK]Policies can’t prevent rampageThinking of the eight slain soldiers makes my heart ache. Who can comfort their parents? If they had been killed by enemy fire, it would have been bad enough, but they were killed by one of their fellow soldiers, leaving the families and friends speechless.
Whenever such inexplicable incidents happen, the authorities come up with countless preventive measures. The prescriptions sound plausible, with plans to improve barracks conditions, eliminate violence and provide education. But can they really prevent such tragedies from happening?
For some time, we have gotten used to the rationality of policies. When we are faced with a social or national problem, we tend to approach it scientifically and try to find an answer through study. We use our past experiences, opinion polls, social psychology and experiments to come up with solutions.
Of course, such an approach significantly contributes to the resolution of social problems. The reasoning and scientific approach help considerably, but we cannot guarantee that they will completely prevent accidents from happening.
What a mother said as she sent her son back to the barracks after the incident was more convincing to me. Holding her son’s hands, she said, “Be careful and careful again. Be patient and patient again.” What could be a better plan?
The soldier at the center of the shootings reportedly said, “I wanted to kill them because I hated them all.” The key to understanding how this incident came about is to understand the soldier’s hatred and wrath. His violent feelings were the driving force behind the tragedy.
The best plan to prevent another rampage is to make sure the soldiers don’t harbor rage. Even if their living conditions are improved and countermeasures are implemented, a similar tragedy is destined to happen again when the soldiers hold in their hatred.
The words hatred and rage make us perplexed. How can we produce logical solutions for such emotional issues? For this reason, people tend to limit such a problem to a personal level. Once it is extended to the public level, we believe no social solution can be devised for such personal problems, and people believe that it is meaningless to talk about morality and conscience in the public sphere.
However, the direct cause of the tragedy was hatred and rage. Only when these feelings are resolved, can we prevent the recurrence of another shooting.
With this in mind, all we can do is to provide a better environment so that people feel less angry. But rage might arise because of the common strain among human relationships, so what we need to do is make relationships harmonious. However, when we delve into this area, logic has only a limited application because these problems which derive from emotions, feelings, instinct and personal background cannot be defined by reason.
For example, if my arrogance, greed, or rudeness stirs up hatred and anger in others, I would have to curb my behavior. However, public policy cannot control personal conduct.
Because we are human, we are bound to get angry. However, depending on how we deal with the anger, the outcome can vary.
At a recent Blue House meeting, President Roh Moo-hyun admitted that he pursued politics out of anger. In describing his passing the state law examination through self-education, he told a priest from Busan, “There is something wrong with the world when such a man has no college degree.” That very anger helped make him president. So couldn’t the man who killed his fellow soldiers have used the anger productively instead of self-destructively?
But no matter how much you make anger productive, the fruit of wrath is negative. The president’s personal anger might be responsible for the country’s clinging to the past and its failure to move forward.
If the private had been provided an outlet to relieve his anger, the tragedy might have not happened. However, because we are only human, there are some cases when we cannot deal with feelings of hatred by ourselves. If I have somewhere to confide my mortification and have the hope that the unfair treatment I have received will be ultimately resolved, the hatred can no longer trouble me. In this way, the power of anger could result in a more beneficial action. It is better when you deal with your anger with a hopeful attitude for the future.
Policy alone cannot create hope, and so the military is not the only responsible party in the tragedy. Instead of growing the grapes of wrath, we have to let our rage rise and disappear like fog. Only the power of love, not government policies, can dissipate such violent feelings.
* The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk