[Viewpoint]Courage today = a good tomorrowRecently, I flew to Sapporo, Japan, but had to return to Seoul the next day on the same plane. It was because my mother-in-law, who had taken care of me like her own son, died unexpectedly. I took the plane to Japan because I could not foresee that she would die so suddenly, although she had been struggling with a disease for a long time.
As far as the future is concerned, we are no different from blind people. We cannot see an inch ahead of us. We know nothing about tomorrow. We don’t know what will happen a few hours or even a few minutes from now. We are doomed to lose if we gamble with our future.
However, people are anxious to know about the future. They even consult fortune-tellers.
There are people who quell their thirst for the future by reading horoscopes in the newspaper.
Regardless of their religion, Korean people like to consult fortune-tellers. Even a minister of a Protestant church preached to his congregation not to consult fortune-tellers on a Sunday which overlapped with the Lunar New Year. Moreover, it seems that almost anyone, regardless of their sex or age, consults fortune-tellers.
There is a rather old story that fortune-tellers who cater to the tastes of the new generation flourish in such places as the Gangnam, Apgujeong, Sinchon and Hongdae subway stations, where young people flock together.
However good at telling the future they may be, they cannot, of course, foretell our fate exactly.
Fortune-tellers are not the only ones who cannot tell our future exactly. Even renowned medical doctors cannot dare to say what will happen to their patients tomorrow.
A super-computer that boasts state-of-the-art modern technology has made frequent mistakes in forecasting the next day’s weather.
The most reliable public opinion research institute cannot predict who will be the winner in the presidential election in December.
The future comes around stealthily and the identity of the thief that has the name of tomorrow is impossible to reveal.
In fact, those who graduate from universities must be the most curious to know, as well as get excited about, the future. It is a well-established tradition in American universities that social celebrities are invited to graduation ceremonies to deliver a speech to the graduates. They call it a commencement address. The commencement addresses are delivered by a wide spectrum of people, from famous film stars to the president. And they convey the experiences and wisdom of the speakers who have led various lives.
Goldie Hawn, a popular actress for more than 30 years, told graduates to build up the muscles of happiness.
Although our lives are full of distress and frustrations hidden here and there, she was saying those things can be overcome easily if we build up those muscles of happiness.
Steven Spielberg told students not to give up the child in themselves. If Mr. Spielberg had given up the child in him, he could not have made such good movies. The pure mind of the child in oneself is a source of power that can open the future creatively.
George Will, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American newspaper columnist and news analyst for ABC, simply said, “Read books.” He said holding a book in our hands is the key to our future.
Eric Freedman, another Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, said, “Draw a new map.” For those who set out on a new journey to the future, a new map is their most essential guide.
Maria Shriver, a niece of the late president of the United States John F. Kennedy, and the wife of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, delivered a commencement address that became so popular that it was later published in a book, “Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Went Out into the Real World ...”
The most impressive passage in the book says that one should fail willingly, even if one has a choice. She wrote that our lives could move forward by defeating our past failures.
There is an old saying that “failing in preparation is like preparing for the failure.” The best preparation for the future is not predicting the future ambiguously, but feeling no fear about tomorrow and leading a courageous life today. If only we can lead such a life, today will bring tomorrow.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong