Shout if your voice is to be heard

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Shout if your voice is to be heard

Last fall, illegally parked cars blocking the pedestrian entrance of my apartment complex caused an inconvenience. People could barely walk between parked cars to get into the building. The situation was worse when traffic wardens were off-duty at night or on weekends. Residents had no choice but live with the inconvenience.

Moreover, some people began dumping garbage illegally. The entrance was blocked with parked cars and all kinds of trash. I submitted a petition to the district office, but it did not help. The “No Parking” and “No Littering” signs were not effective, either. It was hard to counter the illegal parking and littering.

One day, I searched for an application to report illegal parking on my smartphone and found apps by the Ministry of the Interior and Seoul Metropolitan Government. I installed one of them. There were reviews about problems with installation, but I personally had no issues. I was half-suspicious and half-curious what would happen if I reported a parking violation. I took a picture of an illegally parked car and reported it on the app.

Then, I got a text message that the report was delivered to the district office with jurisdiction, and in less than 30 minutes, a team of traffic wardens contacted me to confirm the exact location. They put a warning on the cars. It was unexpectedly quick. After repeating this several times, cars are no longer parked illegally in my neighborhood. If I had continued to complain without taking action, nothing would have changed.

The experience once again reminded me that I have to actively address issues and seek resolutions if my rights are unfairly violated. When I speak up and advocate my position, government agencies or organizations with authority listen and make changes. It goes the same for the upcoming general election. Nothing will change if you continue to complain about politics and the National Assembly. Voters need to proactively learn about the candidates in their districts and vote for those who will work for the people. We need to end the political careers of politicians who bow deeply during the election campaign and abuse their power after being elected.

We also need to filter out politicians who are obsessed with ideologies and cannot see reality straight. We need to let the candidates know that voters, and citizens, are watching them all the time. Each and every vote cast in the election is our voice. We need to go to the poll stations and cast votes to convey what we want. Only then can we save ourselves from frustration after the election. The 19th-century German jurist Rudolf von Jhering said that the rights of people who sleep on their guaranteed rights are not guaranteed. The situation and times have changed, but his words are still valid.

The author is editor of the People & Section of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 4, Page 30

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