Everything connects to everything

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Everything connects to everything

As the saying goes, if things go well, you deserve credit, and if things go wrong, you blame the ancestors. It describes how shallow a person can be, depending on the outcome.

But what about the things that go just as they should, without going especially well or wrong? How about your commute to your company this morning, for example? You didn’t sleep late and got ready as usual, so you arrived at work on time. That’s as it is supposed to be, you would think.

Yet you are only half right. There were countless factors that made it happen that way. You didn’t make it possible to report to work on time with your will and ability alone. You could find just as many reasons and excuses for being late. Thankfully, none of your family members got sick and had to be run to the emergency room. The subway and bus provided regular service without going on strike. You didn’t get hit by a car while crossing the street, and the company you work for didn’t go out of business. You can find many more reasons you should feel thankful for, even on an uneventful day. But, in fact, the usual greeting, “Good morning,” does not come naturally to everyone.

I don’t mean to say that we should resort to explaining everything as destiny, like it is all predetermined. Just as we don’t consider everything our fate and give up, we should not be arrogant and believe that we can do everything we want. Some things are beyond our will. For some things we can make it if we try. But for others we can’t succeed, no matter what.

Moreover, sometimes we have to try even if we can’t make it work. It takes more than willpower and circumstance. We are not puppets, but we are not perfectly free either.

None of us can live alone in this world. Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges stated that everything is connected. The connection can be a relationship, a coincidence or destiny. It depends on how you perceive it. No matter what you call it, it certainly is a reality surrounding individuals. The world may be a grand flow of people influencing one another and moving the axis of time along.

So the people and groups who confront each other are connected somewhere. They may essentially be mirror images of each other. The impolite progressive and the shameless conservative resemble each other. Regardless of which side of the mirror you stand, angrily wagging your finger, another you is facing back. Those who call for the president to step down and the ones who want to arrest the opposition are equally hostile. If the president resigns, will it bring an age of peace? Will arresting a few union executives clear social unrest? Extreme measures call for more extreme measures.

The National Assembly is not much different. Lawmakers respond to rough remarks with even more crude words. The policies that protect small businesses backfire. Excessive moves create even more trouble. Chain reactions and synergy aggravate everything else.

For ultimate accountability, we should seek the ultimate cause. We often blame the most powerful as the culprit, but that is a foolish mistake. The ultimate cause lies with all of us. We have made direct and indirect contributions to the confrontations in our society, bit by bit. All of us are ultimately responsible. Let’s not lament how pathetic politicians are. We should regret our mediocre judgment when we voted for such politicians.

We just had Christmas. It’s the day of “glory to God in the highest and peace on Earth.” Much of that “peace on earth” depends on us, not to mention “glory to god.” Of course, one cannot make it happen, but we may be able to bring peace if we work together.

Everything is connected to everything.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Nahm Yoon-ho
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