[Viewpoint] Time to turn back the tideElection day has finally arrived. Everyone has become touchy and protective of their sides. People are at opposite poles over the contentious candidate who co-hosts the popular podcast “Naneun Ggomsuda” (“I’m a Petty-Minded Creep”). It is not a simple contest because what’s at stake is our country’s future, not a mere legislative seat. Here-and-now hipsters do not own this country. This is a land to which our children and their children are equally entitled. That is why we refer to it as “our” country.
A society is an accumulation of various types of people. The former co-host of “Nanuen Ggomsuda” is one. The problem is that he is saying he represents the masses. Thousands have gathered in downtown Seoul in his support. Many people listened to the podcast that made him renown.
He is a celebrity among the young. His stardom translates into votes. Because votes lead to political power, his stardom won him the nomination to run for a legislative seat.
But the force behind his popularity is a sickness in the society. We therefore cannot simply blame one twisted soul, but have to blame the entire social system.
Our democracy has clearly degenerated. His advocates are surprisingly elite - a professor from Seoul National University, a novelist, a judge, and leaders of the opposition parties - who pride themselves in their liberal beliefs. The liberals place faith in reason and mankind. They pursue perfection of mankind through education and enlightenment for a better society. They believe in progress.
The question therefore comes to this: Is our society progressing for the better? The answer is no, because the liberals have derailed it, sending the course of the society into tumultuous waters. We may be envied by many people outside our land for an exemplary economy and democracy, but we hardly deserve those accolades.
Our democracy has become corrupt, mired in the pit of populism. There are few politicians who worry about the future. They all sell promise and convenience. The economy is polarized with the greedy rich on one side and the envious poor on the other. Instead of working for our lot, we demand a share of the riches of others. We used to rely on standing on our own two feet. Ethics and propriety are ridiculed as old-fashioned and stiff-necked. Vulgarity and audacity are cheered instead. A well-mannered person is booed while a twisted person gets applause.
A society like this cannot last. History is the proof. The Roman Empire crumbled due to the depravity of its citizens. Europe lost much of its power because of waning of European spirit overly engrossed in reason. The pied piper played his seductive tune on the children while the adults were away, luring them onto a path of no return. While the adult generation is too busy with their riches, our youth are being tempted and led astray. We must shake the children out of the spell with a louder horn. The election must play that role.
This is the matter of our pride. We should feel humiliated that such an unqualified person has been nominated to make our laws. We cannot allow someone so debased to represent Koreans. We must show that we are not that easily fooled. If we don’t, we have no future.
Voters from every corner must wake up. It is due to our negligence that our children have been led away into some fantasy life. We have failed in our homes, schools, churches and temples in teaching them right from wrong. The candidate in the eye of the storm is a son of a clergyman. Young people do not trust the older generation if what they see is mere hypocrisy.
Scolding won’t bring them back. They must be inspired. Sincerity has the power of persuasion. We all must try to win back the hearts of the young to virtue. We must teach them that responsibility and obligations are as important as liberty. We must teach them the dignity and pride of citizenship instead of blind faith in the masses.
All things start from small seeds. Streams amass into a river. Decent minds build a healthy democracy. One decent mind is all important. Democracy is in the hands of each such person. Your vote does matter.
*The author is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk