When privileged wings fail

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When privileged wings fail

A bluebird has fallen. The moment it flew out of its cage, it could not overcome the strong winds and fell deeply after a few flaps of its weak wings. Inside the cage, it used to talk about the open sky and the great new world it represented. “When I fly high, your dreams will come true,” it said. People craving for hope trusted the bird. There were also some people who encouraged the bird to fly because they would benefit.

The bluebird began to believe that he was an eagle and wanted to fly marvelously. It believed that it could because it seemed so easy. But the bird did not know its wings were weak. When it hit the ground, it shed tears. “This eagle is not dead. I will get through the storm and fly high again,” it said.

The bird has not awakened from the dreams of an eagle. Some people blamed the strong winds, while others laughed at the weakness of the bird. In the meantime, sly people set another bird into the winds, and the people applauded its flight. The bluebird will be soon forgotten.

Ahn Cheol-soo collapsed too easily. He was a plant grown in a hothouse and a bluebird nurtured inside a protected cage. He was not fit to live in the wilderness and he could not endure the pressures of the candidacy merger process. It may be 20-20 hindsight, but had he won the presidency, it is questionable that he could have managed to steer this country in any kind of turmoil considering his weak character.

The path of a leader sends an individual into stormy fields all alone. Once an individual says he wants to run for leadership, he must take the path to the end, even if he is destined to lose. Courage is what makes him endure hardships. People who want to be leaders are expected to have courage. When Ahn shed tears and dropped out of the race, the public turned away with a sense of embarrassment and shame.

Ahn has lived a great life. He studied hard to become a doctor and created an exemplary family. With his creative ideas, he became a successful CEO and he also implemented the philosophy of sharing.

Everyone has something they can do well. A person who knows his or her limits and does the best is a happy person. Ahn used to live that happy life. But he began to flatter himself as he began town hall-type speaking engagements with university students. They adored him, and he started to believe what they said. It was a delusion. Because he was popular, he thought everything would come easily. He failed to respect the basic philosophy of “know yourself.”

There are some people who are naturally good at thriving in a political landscape. Perhaps because of historical and cultural factors, Korean politics have always been tough terrain for outsiders. That was one of the reasons the public had such high expectations for Ahn’s “new politics.” Outsiders like him have been rare in the past.

The politicians became uneasy with Ahn’s rise. Ahn instantly made uncomfortable a slew of lawmakers and two presidential candidates chosen by a million voters. Ahn’s achievement was his stern, implicit warning to those people to pay attention to the people, not the power. Ahn’s exit from the race also prompted politicians to think about responsibility. Ahn acted irresponsibly and so did his supporters. What is a public opinion poll? What is popularity? No one assumes any responsibility for anything. They say they’re just expressing their opinions. Such irresponsible people produced the Ahn Cheol-soo phenomenon.

Members of a political party work with the political beliefs of the party, and they are united within an organization. Which is more powerful: A party or an amorphous mass with no responsibility? Ahn’s popularity faded because of the nature of his supporters. Irresponsible people love each other passionately and then they split up. That’s why responsible politics are important in a democracy and that’s why party politics is its foundation.

We surely see problems with political parties. When a party has no ability to win the presidency, it must look back on its shortcomings and change to meet the demands of the public. Only then does party politics develop as an effective system. But some parties have no intention to change. They want to win the presidency with political tricks. The merger between Ahn and the Democratic United Party’s Moon Jae-in is an example of such a trick.

It was evident that the DUP meticulously planned the whole charade of bringing Ahn into politics, nurturing the public’s hopes about him and pressuring him to merge with its candidate. Isn’t it plausible that they stimulated Ahn to join politics and then abandoned him because they needed his support for a while to win? When Ahn dropped out of the race, he said he will “serve in the war as a commoner.” What does this mean? It means fighting a war for the country without any reward. His decision was to help the country, not to serve a political faction.

Ahn said he will work for the political group that used him as kindling for their bonfire. He was once a role model for this country’s youngsters. He should go back to where he came from - the place where he succeeded by using his true talents. He must sacrifice himself silently for this country. He should work for the country without expecting fame. That should be his way of “serving as a commoner.”

* The author is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Moon Chang-keuk
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