[VIEWPOINT]Let’s choose prosperity, not conflictAfter reading my column last week under the title “A new Incheon-style landing needed,” a businessman wrote me a letter. He expressed sympathy with my view that: “We cannot keep going in this state of ‘zero visibility,’ in which we don’t have a plan for the next five or 10 years. We can no longer waste time clinging to the deadlocked Nakdong River perimeter of the Korean War, sticking to past futile ideologies and causes. We must bravely launch ‘the Incheon landing of today’ that, as it did in the Korean War, will turn the tide and secure our economic future by mobilizing everyone’s imagination and capabilities.”
The businessman also suggested that “the president, the press and both the governing and the opposition parties declare a cease fire for the interest of the nation and look for a way to lead the people, businesses and the nation together to prosperity.”
He is right. Our society has long been an arena dominated by perpetual fighting.
There is no place where there is no fighting.
There is a saying that “men grow stronger through struggle,” but the struggle in our society is not a competition in good faith.
The rule of competition disappeared a long time ago. In a social atmosphere where people consider competition a vice, unnecessary disputes and fights have increased unexpectedly.
And those fights are not bouts in the ring under designated rules. They are fistfights outside the ring, without any rules to the game. Not only labor and management, but also teachers and students, fight against each other in campuses.
All of society has turned into a shallow fighting ground, where even the president censured junior prosecutors whether they meant to scuffle with him or not, and a minister who had been nominated by the president himself openly challenged the president by saying, “Let’s have a duel, ignoring our rank.”
Even the words of the head of the judiciary, which should be the last bastion of discriminating right and wrong and preventing social conflicts, became a fire that flared into an all-out war involving the court, the prosecution and the bar association.
Then, what shall we gain from this war, which has made all of society fight each other?
Nothing at all.
We have even lost our goals and direction as brawling criticism and the exchange of blows have become a normal way of life.
We have to end this unnecessary war of attrition. We must stop the vicious cycle of disputes and fights for the sake of disputes. Otherwise, our society will be ruined.
Prosperity is a matter of choice. It is possible because South Korea chose the road to economic prosperity. Its economy, which was on the same level 50 years ago with Ghana, a country in Africa, is now 50 times larger than that of Ghana in terms of gross national product.
Although there were social conflicts and twists and turns, by uniting strong leadership with the national aspiration for prosperity, we overcame numerous hardships and succeeded in establishing a nation that can afford economic affluence to a certain degree.
But it takes only an instant to undermine our achievements, even though it took several decades to accomplish them.
In the past couple of years, a lot of our achievements have been ruined already.
There is no longer anything left for demolition. Rather, we have to re-establish our national power. If we wish to do so, we have to set a new goal and have a new vision. And strong leadership should unite and put into motion the will of the people.
Two people out of three say the president has not done one thing right.
But the president has a year and a half left to complete his term. Time is too precious time to waste without doing anything good. We have to make the best use of time. For that, we need a breakthrough.
First, the president should step forward and declare, although it is belated, that he will work for national reconciliation and integration with the spirit of tolerance, not the stubbornness and insistence on appointing people who share the same way of thinking with him.
In order to give more persuasive power to his declaration, the president needs to show more flexibility on the issue of wartime control transfer from Washington and apologize over the situation which has caused the post of the head of the Constitutional Court to be left unoccupied.
Then, rip up the charts filled with confused plans and draw a new plan for prosperity on a blank paper.
This time, no one should insist on his own ideas. Everything should be left to the market. Let’s show that competition is the best policy. Let’s induce real participation of the people, in which the people join voluntarily.
Let’s get on the road to prosperity, not the one that leads to conflicts.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong