[OUTLOOK]In search of a charming manJohn F. Kennedy was born in 1917 and assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963. He lived for only 46 years and he has been dead for 43 but he is still a living legend.
He was in the White House for only 1,037 days but he is regarded as a man who personifies the White House more than any other U.S. president. He is the last president that most Americans respected, regardless of their political convictions.
President Kennedy was indeed a charming man but not simply because he had a radiant smile and was good looking.
And he was not charming because he was a man of wealth and came from one of America’s great families.
Nor was he charming because he went to Harvard University or because he had a beautiful wife, Jacqueline Kennedy. And charm did not reside in his courage as seen during the Cuban missile crisis, in his naval career or in his convincing, persuasive and eloquent way of speaking.
His real charm stemmed from his goals.
Can goals be a source of charm? Yes, they can. When a leader steadfastly pursues goals, that can be genuinely charming. On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy announced in a special message to the U.S. Congress that before the decade was out he would ensure that an American astronaut would land on the moon and return safely to Earth. In this message, he set a concrete goal and a deadline of 10 years.
Brian Tracey said a goal without a deadline is like an unloaded gun. Having an unloaded gun is meaningless and has no power. Before Mr. Kennedy, humans had wanted to fly to the moon for thousands of years but they had done nothing but wish. They certainly did not set a deadline.
But Mr. Kennedy made a successful lunar mission a national goal with an exact timeline. And the goal was achieved, although after his death. That is the power of goals and a proof that a person with a concrete goal is truly charming.
From the late 1950s, the United States fell behind the Soviet Union in the race to conquer space. The Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite 1 in 1958, challenging the United States and the Western powers. On April 12, 1961, the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin flew in orbit for 108 minutes and returned to Earth safely. Washington was astonished. Americans could not believe the U.S. was being crushed by the Soviet Union in space competition.
However, within 10 years of President Kennedy’s audacious announcement, on July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong lifted his left leg out of the Apollo 11 lunar craft and stepped on the surface of the moon, making what he called “One giant leap for mankind.”
Some 60 hours after stepping on the moon, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins returned safely. The United States became the winning side in the space race. That was a dramatic comeback achieved by a leader’s concrete goals.
I want to ask all of you, what goals do you have now? Do you have a timeline for your goals? I want to ask myself too. The problem is not that we don’t have money now or that we have not achieved much so far. The real problem is that we do not know which direction to go in next and it seems we do not have clear goals. That is why we have such a deep need for a charming leader who has concrete goals. Korea needs a President Kennedy of its own.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong