In the Eyes of the Believer column of the Catholic Times, a sociology professor gives the readers his thoughts after seeing one of the most popular domestic movies of all time: The Admiral: Roaring Currents.
The movie reveals the unyielding spirit of Admiral Yi Sun-shin against the Japanese in the Imjin war during the Joseon Dynasty (1592). Selfless devotion to one's country, and working for a cause bigger than self-interest, often expressed by presidents and politicians as our goal. However, in many cases, they have worked to maintain their vested interests. Consequently a country's need for accountability and working for the common good.
Accountability is a moral obligation explaining important issues raised in society. The Gwangju Democratization Movement in1980 and the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014 have taught us the value of accountability in our history. No innocent people should be sacrificed by immoral and irresponsible leaders.
A prominent sociologist Robert Bella says accountability is the test of a healthy society. The writer wants to look at the meaning of accountability at the different levels of society.
First, individual moral accountability is an obligation that requires each citizen to live up to their moral conscience or religious truth. The question: Do you live up to your inner conscience? The answer is the foundation not only in your personal relationships but also in your healthy political participation as a citizen.
Second, the accountability of the organization is an obligation to meet face-to-face, and be responsible for human rights issues, losses, and unfair decisions that arise within community. The organization's operations should be directed toward the good of all members. If the leader of the organization prioritizes personal tastes or personal interests and makes decisions that go against laws and common sense, the community becomes sick.
Third, public accountability is an obligation to provide explanations and countermeasures in a democracy where constitutional order is violated by abuse or misconduct of power, or when public safety and civil rights are seriously undermined. Public accountability is a top priority for public officials, lawyers, politicians, and journalists who must pursue the common good.
An individual's conscience and moral life is not only an intimate holy sanctuary known only to God but also influences the culture and practices of society. As Hannah Arendt pointed out, however, evil is always with us— the banality of evil— privileges, and shortcuts have been used without conscience as long as they have been in our society.
The principle of public accountability today no longer supports the "normality of evil"! On the other hand, the principle of accountability should not be reduced to a tool of struggle using all means to fight what one doesn't like.
History has developed through dialogue in the conflict between vested interests and those alienated in society. For Christians, this dialectic is not a materialistic interpretation of history but a pilgrimage that embodies justice and peace on earth in God's providence. Public officials and politicians must keep in mind that our society becomes healthier and more just when we lay down our vested interests and do our public accountability in the spirit of selfless devotion to the country and it citizens.