[FOUNTAIN]Give us hope!Pygmalion, King of Cyprus, who appears in Greece myth was phobic of women. He had no confidence in his looks and believed that women were destined to have many flaws. He thought that he would not be able to fall in love with a woman in this mundane world. That is why he concentrated on sculpting his ideal figure in ivory. Instead of abandoning love, he craved vicarious satisfaction.
Since Pygmalion was a talented sculptor, the ivory statue was beautiful. He cherished it, bringing it flowers and even embracing and stroking it. During these moments, he began to have hope. He started to dream that the sculpture would come alive.
On one festival day he visited the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty. Pygmalion prayed earnestly for the sculpture to become his wife. Then a miracle happened ― the sculpture began to breathe. Pygmalion married this woman, and had a daughter named Paphos. His views on women also started to change.
The phrase “Pygmalion effect” comes from this story. When one has dreams or hopes, real life changes. Edward Burne-Jones, a British painter in the 19th century, painted this myth. The four images in “Pygmalion and the Image” hangs inside the Birmingham Museum in England. Before starting the painting, Burne-Jones said, “I want to draw a masterpiece that would make everyone exclaim ‘wow’ and leave them breathless.” Burne-Jones’ wish has also come true like Pygmalion’s ― many people today view his drawings full of wonder.
Finance Minister Han Duck-soo during his greeting for the New Year said, “Korea experienced the ‘Pygmalion Effect’ when our dreams came true during the 2002 World Cup and when we overcame the financial crisis. If we are truly sincere and desire earnestly, we should be able to achieve whichever dreams or goals we have.” It is good to hope that the economy and everything else will go smoothly in the New Year. As Cervantes wrote in his book “Don Quixote,” “One should possess hope rather than a fortune.” What fun would living in the world be, if we had no dreams or hopes?
However, was it because people didn’t wish strongly enough or their hopes were too weak that the economy was poor and politics were unstable? Wasn’t the reason our lives were so bitter was because the government and politicians lacked the earnest desire to make a better world? In the New Year, the participatory government should examine why its approval rating is dropping and why people distrust politics. As long as the citizens have no hope for the government and politics, the “Pygmalion Effect” that Minister Han is expecting will be hard to see.
by Lee Sang-il
The writer is deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.