The Korea Times 칼럼

About Parents' Day (2010년 5월 8일)

divicom 2010. 5. 10. 11:12

A special day means a special need. If people with physical or mental challenges could live as freely as those without, we wouldn't need the Day of Disabled Persons. If everyone loved and respected their fathers and mothers, Parents' Day wouldn't be necessary. Today is for the bad, young or grown up, who seldom pay attention to their parents. There are more bad children than good ones and the traffic gets frustrating. If you are a good child, stay put.

For many elderly people, the day means pleasure and anxiety at the same time. They feel happy as they meet their children and receive gifts for the first time in several months, if not years. For some, the day is stressful because they don't have offspring to bring in gifts or carnations. The day brings tears and heartbreak to some as their children don't or can't come. Think about the bereaved parents of the victims of the sunken frigate Cheonan. For them, today means renewed pain and sorrow.

At the so-called ``silver homes,'' yearly tension rises among the old men and women as to who will have more visitors and gifts on this day. The number doesn't necessarily speak for love and affection, yet people tend to believe so. The competition over who gets more carnations may become tougher this year as their price has hit the ceiling. one head costs an average 5,000 won (approximately $4).

While the day is commemorated loudly by the mass media and people line up at department stores to buy fancy stuff as the Roman Catholics bought indulgence in Middle Ages, it is questionable if today's parents are as loved and respected as their parents were a few decades ago when money wasn't deemed the most important thing in life.

In Busan, a 40-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday for having habitually beaten his parents and taking their money. In December 2008, the man punched and kicked his 68-year-old father and broke his ribs for refusing to give him money. In August last year, his violence resulted in the paralysis of his mother. Four months later, he beat his father and robbed him of 15 million won.

On Tuesday, Seoul police apprehended a 17-year-old high school boy on suspicion of beating his mother to death. The boy allegedly committed the crime after his 51-year-old single mother, who had come back from work in the wee hours, scolded him for skipping school. He lived with his mother's body in the house, the police said. When the mother didn't appear at work, one of her colleagues became suspicious and reported it to the police. When police raided the house, the boy was eating fried chicken. He admitted his crime but didn't show any remorse, the police said.

It was the financial crisis of 1997 and 1998 that drastically changed the nation's psyche. Through the economic ordeal, Koreans experienced the cruel aspect of capitalism and began to value money more than at any other time in their history. Parents gave up moral discipline and began to teach their children that winning the competition should be the foremost goal. Poverty became an unpardonable crime. Wealth has emerged as the most crucial yardstick in measuring people and their worth, even parents.

Rearing children has become tougher as television and Internet have formed more influential parts of their lives. Parents who don't know much about the Internet are despised as behind the times. Poor parents are regarded as ill providers as opportunities for education now commensurate with economic standing.

Canadian and U.S. researchers have found that toddlers who watch too much TV may struggle in school and lack in social skills later. Earlier research has shown that television teaches violence to children. No wonder, the poor mother of Dr. Ben Carson, the world-renowned neurosurgeon who split Siamese twins for the first time, left Ben and his brother at a public library while she worked three jobs.

The number of people streaming along the streets on Parents' Day will increase for quite a while amid mounting crimes targeting one's own parents. Then one day, children will be too preoccupied with their lives that they won't go to see their parents even on this day. People say that the good sons belong to their wives while the worst sons belong to their parents. If you are curious to know how you will end up as parents, look at yourself now. If you are a bad child, go out and pick up a carnation and go to your mom, no matter how bad the traffic is.


'장애인의 날'이 있다는 건 우리 사회가 장애인을 비장애인과 다르게 대한다는 뜻이고, '어버이날'이 있다는 건 자녀들이 평소에 부모에게 해야할 바를 하지 않는다는 반증입니다. '어버이날' 온 종일 길이 막히는 건 불효자들 때문입니다. 자주 찾아뵙지 않던 아들들과 딸들이 이날만은 '어쩔 수 없이' 길을 나섭니다. 중세 가톨릭신자들이 면죄부를 사던 것처럼 카네이션과 선물을 사들고 부모를 찾아갑니다. 어르신들이 모여 사는 '실버 홈'에선 누구에게 가장 많은 자손이 찾아오는지, 누가 가장 많은 선물을 받는지를 놓고 눈에 보이지 않는 경쟁이 벌어집니다. 한쪽에선 부모가 마음에 들지 않는다고 폭력을 휘두르는 자식들이 늘어갑니다. 인터넷과 텔레비전의 힘은 날로 강해지고 부모의 영향력은 점점 줄어듭니다. 1997~1998년 금융위기가 초래한 가치관의 변화는 돈과 물질적 부유함을 지상의 목표로 만들었고, 돈 없는 부모는 나쁜 부모가 되었습니다. 부모를 홀대하면서도 자신은 자녀들로부터 사랑과 존경을 받고 싶어하는 사람들이 있습니다. 그러나 아이들은 '말'이 아닌 '행동'을 보고 배웁니다. 내가 노년에 이르렀을 때 내 자녀들이 나를 어떻게 대할지 알고 싶으면, 지금 내가 부모를 어떻게 대하는지 보면 됩니다.