[Letters] Politics lacking noblesse oblige
Noblesse oblige is the idea that people with advantages, for example, those of a high social class, should help other people. This term originates from the Roman Empire. Because of their high social status, the noble class was responsible for helping the citizens below them. They focused on assisting people while governing the empire.
Noblesse oblige is still seen today around the world. For example, the royal family in the United Kingdom has served and acted in a way befitting the principle of noblesse oblige. When Queen Elizabeth II was about 20 years old, she entered the army to assist behind the front line. Although it was dangerous, she transported supplies by driving a truck and nursed the wounded in hospitals.
The British aristocracy also has a sense of noblesse oblige to help citizens. For instance, they join the army whenever a war breaks out. Most of them are willing to serve at the forefront of battle even if there’s a chance they could be sacrificed. This mind-set is also applied in politics, which leads politicians to make laws which help the citizens. Ultimately, this approach will help not only the citizens, but also the entire society, by making effective laws.
In contrast, it is hard to find the idea of noblesse oblige among Korean politicians. Rather than focusing on helping the people, they focus on their needs. In the news, bribery related to politicians is often reported and the people are disappointed.
The people are embarrassed when politicians fight in the National Assembly. Video footage of politicians wielding sledgehammers to break the chamber door or shooting water at other politicians, as was shown in numerous countries, was deeply embarrassing for the citizens. Politicians must know that they have certain responsibilities to represent the citizens and help them. They should not act violently or inappropriately because it misrepresents the citizens. They have to know and retain noblesse oblige in order to do what they should do for the people.
For the sake of development of democracy and the economy of Korea, lawmakers, who are the main pillars of the fundamental basis of society, should actually help the citizens.
Chung Kyung-soo, Seohyun High School student