The only choice is to change yourself

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The only choice is to change yourself


A person does not change. The DNA you inherit does not allow your personality to change easily, even if the environment in which you are raised does. And the older you get, the narrower your mind becomes. The lazier, more foolish and greedier you are, the harder it is to change.

Sometimes, people are transformed after a great ordeal, but that is not the case for everyone. Before Adolf Hitler died, he said that he regretted having too much sympathy. It was a bizarre statement for someone who ordered the execution of millions of Jews as well as 70,000 mentally and terminally ill patients in Germany.

The power of religion may be able to change the personality, but that is also very rare, and the transformation may only be temporary. Usually, it is only a matter of time before the person returns to the original state as programmed by their DNA. As one African proverb says, “You pray for food, and when you get it, you forget about God.” There is a similar saying in the West: “Danger past, God forgotten.”

The Lee Myung-bak administration enjoyed its triumph after winning election by a big margin. But it faced a serious crisis after making some of its first nominations and appointments for key positions. In short, the cabinet was filled with people who shared religious, academic, regional and financial connections with the president, and the ruling party’s candidate nominations were also based on similar criteria. This made citizens furious.

In short, the Lee administration experienced an ordeal and confronted a number of obstacles. Administration officials have repented their mistakes and professed regret, but like a human hard-wired to be a certain way, not much has changed. The “revolving door of appointments” is still turning in the same place and the administration still uses absurd ethical standards.

Yet, it is even more sickening to think about the people who will be left behind after the administration leaves office. They are not likely to change even a bit. They will only blame their predecessors and their solutions will be out of focus. After all, people don’t change.

As Confucius once said, “I have never found a single person who could see his own faults.” But Mencius seemed to have higher hopes for humanity. He said: “If you try to control yourself but can’t, you should reflect on your own senses.” I agree with Confucius, but Mencius has a point. He is essentially saying that it is you who should change yourself.

*The writer is the J Editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Lee Hoon-beom
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