Thursday, January 6, 2011

One Person's Reason For Failure in Life

A columnist in the opinion page of the Catholic Times gives us a very helpful lesson in how not to be a failure in life. As the head of a psychological  counseling service, she has helped many, and believes that those who need the most help are the ones who usually refuse it and  bring unhappiness into the lives of  others. They can be considered, she says, 'blind' in their relationships: Seeing what is in their own world, hearing what they want to hear, understanding  what they want to understand. 

Their  problems, they insist, come mostly from unlucky circumstances or are caused by others. When they hurt another by word or action, they defend themselves by saying it was not their intention or--a common retort--they don't remember saying or doing anything hurtful. No matter how much sympathy and empathy we have for those who are caught in these destructive behaviors, it  is difficult, she admits, to continue counseling such persons.

Often in Korea when things don't go the way we want, we use the word nang pae (낭 패) to describe this difficult situation. When we look at the origin of the word, however, we come up with a different understanding of its meaning. Nang and Pae were two imaginary animals.  Nang had no hind legs, and Pae had no front legs. (It is thought that they were similar to wolves.) Nang was courageous but had no cleverness; Pae was very clever but was a coward. When they went walking or hunting, they needed each other. When they were separated, they could do nothing.

A similar relationship usually exists even in the smallest of human groups. When two or more persons are planning to do something, each gives of his strong points, and the weak points are complemented  by the other's strengths. Understanding, concern, communication and tolerance are the elements that allow for harmonious personal interactions and an efficient running of society, but there are many who are blind to this relationship, which brings about this nang pae, 

The columnist ends by asking us if we have this relationship with others. Do we strive always for understanding and magnanimity?

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