Is a quiet autumn too much to ask?We can hear the sounds of fall and feel that it’s right around the corner. As the air becomes exceedingly dry, the breeze-rattled branches have a much lighter sound than before. The cold, fresh autumn also brings an end to the incessant chirping song of the cicada.
Cicadas, which cease to make their “chirrup” sound in line with the rhythm of the seasons, in the past were known by a different name, “hanseon.” But through no fault of their own, their natural tendency to fall silent in the cooler months made them dishonorable creatures.
Du Mil, an official during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 A.D.), achieved fame for his integrity. He was renowned for imposing unsparing punishment on wrongdoers, even sons of dignitaries.
On the other hand there was his colleague Yu Seung, who did his best to avoid having to distinguish between right and wrong, preferring to act nicely on every occasion.
The governor-general in charge bestowed praise on Yu, but Du’s evaluation of him was different. He argued that Yu behaved exactly the same as cicadas on cold days; in other words, he kept quiet, not recommending suitable people for posts, but also not pointing out anybody’s wrongdoings.
Thus, a cowardly person who has little more than their self-interest in mind became associated with cicadas.
The shrill chirp of a cicada, however, conveys all things natural, as they cry their hearts out on a sweltering day, hoping to find a suitable spouse so that they may stop crying come autumn. But we can’t mistake this for a dishonorable act.
If some cicadas continued their noise after the summer ended, it would be strange, symbolizing an insensitivity to the natural seasonal changes around them. We can learn the virtue of harmony and convergence from cicadas that cease to sing during the autumn season.
The unduly stubborn Choo Mi-ae, a Democratic Party lawmaker who is chairperson of the National Assembly’s Environment and Labor Committee, is the talk of the town. She refuses to accept the schedule for personnel hearings and insists upon asking for the ruling party to apologize for its past behaviors. The scheduling of the hearings has been deadlocked because of one person’s stubbornness. It is of great importance to have integrity in politics. What is more important, however, is to have a positive attitude and cooperate properly with others.
If cicadas continue to cry once the summer has ended, they will annoy us all very much. Autumn is a season for yielding a rich harvest and focusing our attention on substance over appearance.
If someone throws the political atmosphere into commotion, how is that different from cicadas that continue to chirp, unaware of the fact that autumn has already come?
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Yoo Kwang-jong