A day during the childhood was a long period of time indeed; you’d wake up, open your eyes, go out to play – so much so that you forget to eat – come home to eat, and fall asleep with food still in your mouth. The day is still the same, but now half a century old, each time I borrow the expression ‘Time flies like an arrow’ I smack my knee in appreciation.
As long as life goes on, the same old, yet new mornings; same old, yet different tasting meals; same old small things, and the always returning, but always different nights; these are the life of those who live. The universe also has a routine it repeats; the sun has dimmed, and the leaves already preparing for a splendid exit. To live is no different from an endless cycle of repetitions.
For me, whose day consists of newspapers and news, the situation is tragic. The news is infuriating, and I find myself hurling obscenities that I don’t remember learning. Whether they can’t or won’t see the forest or the river, these ‘leaders’ and their obsession over a single tree, or redirecting the flow for themselves and their vested interest groups makes me ponder about what the problem is and where it begins. I end up asking myself what it is that this country keeps thinking about, what it wants to carve into our minds, and what it is teaching.
To preserve their species and life, all living things in nature survive and evolve. The life of a modern human is also part of that nature, but it seems to be growing and evolving within restrictions of the repetitive system of education. A person’s humanity is made-up from what they learned at home, what they learned growing up in school, and what education system they were a part of. “We are what we do repeatedly” a Greek sage once said, and that repetition is no other than education – the most important factor which determines the thoughts and action, and further out, the fate of a nation.
Education occurs over a lifetime, but just as in architecture where the foundation is critical, the early learning that people receive at home is the most important. “Old habits die hard” they say, because changing and realigning ideas and habits also require a repetitive learning. Once entered, a program will continue to play until edited. This can be seen in those who’d like to distort history. Growing up in the exhaustion of competition, conscience turns to garbage, and goes to the dumpster. To restore clean conscience and regain lost character, anyone would need a conscience reforming education at the after-service level.
Though this conscience education and moral re-armament to regain character is for everyone, leaders, particularly those closer to the pinnacle of power, should accept it as an obligation. Although laws that punish those who receive bribes, like the Kim Young-ran Act are important, leaders are those who should value conscience and morality foremost, and not because of a law. For them, moral re-armament is needed,, and once a year, or perhaps each change of the season, the conscience education should be mandatory. The fish stinks from the head, and such is the natural order.
Just as a regular check-up is needed for the body, there needs to be a check-up for the mind and soul. As desire for wealth and power deepens not only the self, but all the citizens, become sick. The more a person wishes to run a household, a company, above all a country, keeping that desire in check should take precedence over other things. They must not to rule over the people, but serve them; they have to distinguish the private from the public, and be honest and genuine. However, people like these do not become leaders, and do not enter politics to serve the people. Rather, what they’re trying to do is going entirely in the opposite direction, which is why basic education and repeat education based on conscience and morality is needed.
In religious terms it is called a ‘retreat,’ which could be described as breaking away from the daily routine in order to reflect and polish one’s mind and soul. Even the Pontiff, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, regularly takes time for retreats, cleaning himself. Not only religious leaders, but anyone – especially leader of a nation’s citizens – needs a time off on a retreat to reflect and reexamine where their desires have come and gone, and to re-arm themselves with integrity.
Water must flow to remain fresh, and will rot if stagnant. Like we care for our body, it is obvious that our mind will become corrupt if we neglect to reform it. The autumn deepens. The time has come to freshen up the water of our mind that was become warm over the summer. It is time to wash out my mind, my home, and my country with water; a bright dew of the clear and chilly autumn morning; a downpour like waterfall.
Marie Hong/Chief Editorial Staff