[Viewpoint] A kindergartner knows this is wrong

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[Viewpoint] A kindergartner knows this is wrong

Sharing, not taking things that aren’t yours, saying sorry when you hurt somebody, cleaning up your own mess, washing hands before you eat: looking and wondering were some of the basic rules American author Robert Fulghum reminded adults to keep in mind in his best-selling book of essays “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

We all know there are many things a person has to learn to survive, succeed in this world, and continue the search for wisdom. Yet life’s most valuable lessons for that author were learned in the sand box and its close environs. Whether they were picked up in classrooms or at the bosoms of grandmothers, the ways to a fundamentally good life were taught during our childhoods.

We all learn the same basic lessons as children, and yet we grow up to be so different. The reason may be that some people make it a point to live by the book and others don’t. Would we all be better persons if we stuck by the Golden Rules? It doesn’t always work that way.

The reason may be a difference in self-respect, or belief in one’s own worth and abilities. A person with high self-esteem tends to have high moral standards. A solid feeling of security and confidence can lead to a life of decency and dignity, as well as respect for social rules. A strong belief in one’s own capacity gives a person the ability to get back up after falling, or to surmount obstacles when they are encountered, or to resist worldly temptations. And there’s a self-reinforcing mechanism at work, too: The more one acts out of good judgment and wisdom, the stronger one’s self-esteem becomes.

The corruption scandal engulfing the rightfully suspended Busan Savings Bank Group seems to involve a group of people with no self-respect and a very poor memory of the Golden Rules. The savings of thousands of trusting customers are held hostage by a management and ownership who revelled in greed, reckless lending practices and accounting fraud. The president’s vow to create a “fair and equal” society has been made a joke by the revelation of former and incumbent officials of a state financial watchdog deeply involved in the scandal and its high-level bribery, influence-peddling, information selling and other abuses of power.

The public is outraged by the practices of a government body that bends regulatory policy at will. The Financial Supervisory Service, with its role of overseeing financial companies, is in the hot seat for tipping off shareholders and management at Busan Savings Bank that it was about to be suspended, and former FSS officials serving at the bank are accused of granting illegal loans to shareholders. If the government fails to fix these wrongs and restore credibility, the FSS corruption case may deal a fatal blow to the ruling party in next year’s general and presidential elections.

The FSS has been grilled by the media and severely scolded by the president. That is hardly enough. Time and again we have seen corruption scandals end with public rebuke and little else, and then the same problems recur a little while later. We should come up with a stronger set of Golden Rules to solve the problem of state corruption once and for all.

But first we need to hear an explanation and apology. The Busan Savings Bank and the FSS should fully explain their wrongdoings and say sorry for the damage they caused for customers. They must reveal how they erred and how they plan to make amends. A censure from the president can not be the end of the story.

A caring leader would turn to the people with words of comfort and hope. Leaders must try to communicate with the people from their heart, instead of their head. At the very least, they cannot turn a deaf ear to the complaints from the public.

Second, injustices must be punished. If they do not have enough penalties on the books, authorities should make them. We must no longer tolerate endless recurrences of corruption by public officials because we lack strong punitive measures. The president ordered a sweeping reform, but we don’t know when it will come.

Lastly, authorities must come up with a strong and detailed ethics code to keep public officials from falling astray.

We passed Children’s Day with a heavy heart because we grown-ups have given such a poor example to the younger generation. If we can’t teach them, we should get some wisdom from them, and ask them to remind us of the Golden Rules.

*The writer is CEO of UCO Marketing Group.

By Yoo Jae-ha
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