[Letter to the editor]Tempering pride
While a new year signifies a new beginning in most cultures, it does not eliminate one of the most significant causes of mayhem the world over: excessive pride in one’s self, one’s social group and one’s nation.
Pride, in my opinion, is a learned behavioral tendency that is allowed to nourish and thrive in ultra-competitive societies. Some would even argue that possessing pride is a natural consequence of success. And for those deprived of success, pride may be elusive.
However, as long as individuals need to cooperate with others to accomplish daily projects or tasks, it is inconceivable to imagine an individual or nation bereft of a certain degree of pride. Pride, when construed and practiced as self-confidence, can lead to astounding achievements and lift moral spirits to scale great heights.
But when it becomes haughtiness, pride can result in wars, famine and an utter lack of empathy for the plight of the disadvantaged.
An example of excessive pride and its ramifications can be seen in the treatment of ethnic Koreans living in Japan. Though there are currently more than 1 million ethnic Koreans residing in Japan, including second, third, and even fourth generation residents, discrimination toward ethnic Koreans is rampant, from employment to educational opportunities.
To be fair, Japanese as well as Chinese residing in Korea endure ostracism as well. The categorization of individuals into rigid social boxes is absurd and undermines the individuality of the persons involved.
Perhaps it is more convenient to label people here who are not “purely” Korean as foreigners, even if this is the only place they call home. But this convenience comes at a price ― a price that is both reprehensible, irresponsible and a blatant violation of fundamental human rights.
In hindsight, pride in one’s nation is the ultimate reason why common sense advice to forgive and forget has not materialized between China and Japan, Greece and Turkey or Israel and Iran, to mention just a few. When inordinate pride engenders reckless behavior and an unwillingness to compromise or negotiate, everyone suffers. However, when one is able to swallow past injustices and mend current misunderstandings, the sun will shine a little brighter for us all.
Dennis Yang, English instructor,
Gimhae Foreign Language High School