[VIEWPOINT]It’s hard to see people with visionIn response to my earlier column that I wrote for university freshmen, some readers said they hoped I would write another article for students.
When I heard from young readers and students, I was surprised to realize how little our society talks about vision. One one side, there is an overflowing number of talks, books and lectures about personal success, the secrets of success in life and making money. On the other side are blueprints and slogans for the future of the society.
Yet, discussions about the important theme of “establishing one’s position and realizing one’s dream in society” seem to have vanished.
This is true, although it is not possible for society to exist without individuals or for an individual’s dream to materialize without society.
First, let’s talk about the importance of vision. What I mean is a vision for the future that pulls us along. Our lives today change completely depending on what kind of vision we have, because our preparations to achieve the vision change accordingly.
Therefore, the most important thing for youths should be to dream of something important and make and follow a vision.
Things such as studying English, going abroad for further studies and learning how to use a computer are the means to make our dreams come true, not dreams in themselves.
If we have a vision, materializing it will follow naturally.
Our education today teaches solutions, but not the problems. We learn personal skills for competition, but the fundamental purposes of it are overlooked.
However, there is no solution without a problem. Kim Woo-chang, a prominent English literature professor at Korea University in Seoul, said, “The solution is in the problem, because the presentation of a problem makes the solution work.”
Asking what kind of vision I should have is like asking what kind of problem the society and I should dig into.
However, the gap between the philosophy of our personal lives and rules of action in our society is too big.
Grand discussions about our community’s development don’t include the details of someone’s personal life, and discussions about personal ethics only deal with how to accomplish perfection in one’s personal life or personal success, keeping society out of the mix.
The two visions frequently contradict, and the development of society does not lead to personal happiness. Our social ethics are in the process of disintegration regardless of the success of individuals.
Therefore, a “social vision” that pursues development of both the community and individuals at the same time is invaluable.
A social vision has a two-way positive cycle structure, where personal fulfillment contributes to the organization, community and society, and such developments, in turn, help materialize personal dreams.
People often feel frustration when the characteristic of their goals is not social, but personal.
For the establishment of an index of self-fulfillment we should use principles of social co-existence, for example the values of freedom, basic human rights, welfare, stability and peace, which are genuine and universal because they apply to both socialization and personalization.
Vision originates from a critical awareness that tries to solve personal and social problems. Thus, a vision is self-criticism for creation.
There is no creation without criticism or pain.
Not only the pains of Admiral Yi Sun-shin, President Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, who risked their lives to challenge problems and open a new horizon of visions, but also the lives of people in the fields of literature and art such as Handel, Dante, Leo Tolstoy, John Bunyan, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Victor Hugo, Milton and Beethoven were filled with great hardships such as banishment, exile, imprisonment, incurable diseases, blindness and partial paralysis.
They had the patience and sacrifice not to give up their vision despite such pains. Their actions later became the legacies of not only their societies but also of the human race. Great achievements are not made despite pain, but are mostly made from pain. From personal stability to social peace, our lives today are full of problems that need to be solved through moral visions of young people for the happiness of us all. Leo Tolstoy repeats himself just once at the end of his book on life, “A man’s life is a desire for happiness, and what he longed for will be given to him without exception.”
Let's make together a vision for our community where both personal and social happiness will be achieved at the same time.
* The writer is a visiting professor at the Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library and Museum, Yonsei University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Park Myung-lim