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The humanities can make a man live as a man should live.

By Koo Ji-wan (a student of Life Science and Biotechnology) 기자2007.11.01 00:00:00

 
▲ Koo Ji-wan 
ⓒ photo by The KNU Times
This month (October 12 - 14, 2007) I served for the 46th Orient & Southeast Asia Lions Forum (OSEAL FORUM) as an English interpreter. Approximately 20,000 native and foreign Lions delegates from each district in the various associated countries were gathered here in Daegu. About half of them were foreigners. Their nationalities and skin colors were all different, as were their occupations and religions. Since they only meet each other in this kind of forum once a year, they could well have felt uncomfortable and awkward. However, this was not the case at all. These Lions members, who support disabled people and poor people practically and financially, had come to this place because of their philosophical convictions, based on love and service, and this common goal enabled them to cross the boundaries of nationality, skin color and religion. Not only do they cooperate on achieving ambitious projects for worldwide welfare, but they all practiced their beliefs individually in their own lives as well. At the very heart of their philosophy is their desire to live as a man should live. This thought (the helper living a life in the joy of helping and sharing and the recipients of help getting out of gloomy surroundings and living just like the others do), was their motto and had motivated them to be here. They wanted to prevent man as a species from seeking only immediate carnal and material pleasure in this technological world, ignorant of the meaning of life and death, and the value of being human. National borders, skin color, and occupations were nothing when compared with such considerations.

On a similar topic, there was a unique graduation at Sungkonghoe University, in Seoul, on May 4th, 2006. Thirteen students finished the humanities course and were about to graduate. What was surprising was that they were all in their 40s to 60s, and a year or so ago had been homeless people, begging and sleeping around Seoul station. They were given the opportunity to enroll in the humanities program, studying philosophy, literature, history, art, and writing. This might have seemed weird to most onlookers, since the new students had no means of self-support. However, the result was magical. They did their best to rent even monthly paid rooms and felt ashamed of receiving free meal services. Thanks to this program, they managed to say farewell to their past and became normal citizens, living as man should live. This graduation proved that the fundamental motive force for changing people and their lives is the humanities. Throught learning about the humanities, the ex-vagabonds acquired a sense of meaning and value in life. They started to know that what they needed to live a full life. These graduates, whose prime goal in life had so recently been bread and a place to sleep, were transformed from the dregs of society into capable citizens. This is living proff that the humanities can provide the world with immeasurable benefits. These might not be as practical and applicable as other fields, but they are certainly effective in changing people and the world. This is the power of the humanities.

Many crises are raising their heads these days, threatening the existence of the humanities: decrease in social attention, decreasing enrollments in university"s humanities courses, reduced political aid, difficulties in getting jobs, etc. I feel really sorry because of this situation. In my opinion, human intelligence and insight are priceless and they can only be obtained through learning the humanities. We should value what the humanities bring to in our lives. I recommend that even students of social sciences and natural sciences select humanities courses and establish the ground knowledge required for being a human being, before learning their majors. Whatever their merits, science is no more than inane discourse if it is not based on the humanities.





[No.325]
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