The power of tolerance
In general, Koreans and Americans respect each other with love and universal acceptance. This is the case regardless of the fact that their countries are allies.
In this global era, when relationships reach far beyond national borders, tolerance toward other people will serve to extend the horizon of humanity even further.
Korean?American Yoon Dong-yun lost his wife, mother-in-law and two young daughters when a U.S. military jet crashed into their home. As in the old proverb, “The unexpected always happens,” he lost everything in that moment.
However, the distraught father said at the funeral: “I do not blame the pilot. I forgive him.” He described the pilot as a “treasure for the country,” and said, “I don’t want him to suffer from this accident.”
His forgiveness was conveyed by the mass media across the country. Many well-wishers extended their gratitude for his tolerance and encouragement for him to overcome the pain.
Almost two years ago, the campus of Virginia Tech was rocked by a shooting rampage. The perpetrator killed 32 people before committing suicide. The massacre remains the deadliest single shooting incident in U.S. history.
The criminal, Seung-hui Cho, was a Korean?American student who had been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder. Koreans initially feared they would be targeted for retribution by Americans.
But this did not happen because Koreans shared the heartbreak over the loss of lives, and Americans resolved the crisis with a clear-eyed and mature attitude.
Cho is remembered in a memorial to the shooting. Many people placed letters there carrying hopes that he will rest in peace.
Americans said that Koreans did not need to apologize for the actions of an individual or feel any guilt. However, the Korean government and people extended their heartfelt condolences to Americans, far beyond Westerners’ understanding.
Then-President Roh Moo-hyun expressed his grief and conveyed a message of condolence to the U.S. president three times. The JoongAng Ilbo wrote, “We extend our most sincere condolences to the bereaved families, far beyond our alliance.”
These sentiments were appreciated by most Americans including journalists, university authorities and the local people.
During these turbulent times, we must reflect on the power of tolerance and forgiveness.