[OUTLOOK]One’s true image is what others see

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[OUTLOOK]One’s true image is what others see

What is my true self? Is it what we think about ourselves or what others find in us? One of my friends said what others see in us is more important. He used to be a successful banker but one day he quit his job, surprising everybody who knew him. He has been running his own business since then and his business is now doing well.
He learned that what he thought about himself was not important as he ran his own business. He said others’ evaluation of oneself is more important, and that is one’s true self. If something I said caused a misunderstanding, it is no use saying in despair, “It wasn’t my intention. I didn’t mean to say so.”
The evaluations from other people tell whether a person is trustworthy or not.
The other day, I found something similar while reading a book by Professor Shin Young-bok. The book had a Chinese quote, “Do not look into a mirror; Reflect one’s image on other people.”
This saying was from an ancient time, when people used water as a mirror. This quote tells you not to be obsessed with your image on a mirror but find your true image by seeing how others treat you.
Professor Shin added his explanation that this saying means a person should find his or her true self through business or relations with others, and by being strong while staying close with other people and supporting them.
Professor Shin worked at Sungkonghoe University and had his resignation ceremony yesterday. His life represents and symbolizes Korea’s modern history and society.
He was born in Miryang, southern Gyeongsang province, in 1941. He studied economics at Seoul National University and also received his master’s degree there. After graduation, he taught at the Korea Military Academy.
In 1968, he was arrested on charges of being involved in a political party that a North Korean spy had formed to make South Korea communist. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
On Aug. 15, 1988, after having spent 20 years in prison, he was released on special parole. In 1989, he started teaching students at the university. He is an expert on Marxist economics and taught Eastern classical literature as well.
In short, his life was divided into three different phases due to historical turmoil.
Probably because he has gone through all manners of hardship, Professor Shin emphasizes relations with other people. He goes beyond ontology, whose goal is to maximize each individual’s or each group’s interests. He instead emphasizes relations and argues that relations with others and other creatures or objects are the core of human life.
Ontology, a branch of philosophy based on capitalism, always demands competition and winning. Mr. Shin maintains that an emphasis on relationships is a new alternative to build a more humane society. He also explains that a basic factor of European modern history is ontology, while Asian society is based on relationships.
Another book by Mr. Shin, titled “Lecture,” states that the core of the philosophy of I Ching is relations. One’s position is an important factor in relationships. This means one’s thoughts and destiny can change, according to one’s position. One builds his or her capacity based on one’s position and his or her relationships. This means finding the right position is very important.
Then, what position is the right one? Mr. Shin says a position that requires 70 percent of one’s full capacity is the right one. The other 30 percent offers some room to be creative and artistic.
If a person takes a job that requires more than what he has, he has no choice but to fill the gap with lies, hypocrisy or brown-nosing. This eventually damages the person and the job he or she needs to do cannot be done properly.
Mr. Shin deplores Korea’s unfortunate history, in which the wrong person took the most important position of the country and placed the country into disaster.
This is a good lecture that we need to reflect upon, especially these days when many scandals and problems have come out. Too many issues erupt every day and there are many problems over the personnel affairs of the government.
I think at the core of this problem lies the issue of people and their positions. Probably other people know better whether I am qualified for my job or not. This book also made me think seriously about myself.

* The writer is the business news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Lee Se-jung

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