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[Opinion] Hope and Despair

Posted March. 02, 2003 22:55,   


Terry Fox lost both legs in a battle with cancer, but began a marathon race aiming to raise $100,000 for cancer research. Seeing him run with his two artificial legs, people were rushing to contribute and the total amount reached up to $24.1 million. George Silater grew stronger as he suffered from polio, an infectious eye disease and pneumonia and even was burned from an explosion. He later won an Emmy Award for his work as comedy show producer. Todd Huston, having lost one of his legs in an accident, graduated summa cum laude, became head of a rehabilitation center for the handicapped and set a new record for climbing the 50 highest peaks in the United States in the shortest time. And lastly, although Wilma Rudolph’s legs were paralyzed when she was only 4, she was able to run at 13 and later won three gold medals at the Olympics.

▷Reading these stories of great triumphs, we can only wonder what people’s limits are. All of us face challenges, whether small or great, throughout our lives. Even at this moment, there are a number of people out there going through hardships and even thinking about giving up on life. There are students who failed their college entrance tests, men who lost their jobs, or people suffering from debilitating illnesses. What makes the difference though between success and failure is the way we take on those challenges we face, whatever they are.

▷In despair we can never win, but when we stick to our hopes and dreams we can surely accomplish anything. What makes people give up is not hardship but despair. The scene of the burned out fields in Gangwon-do a few years ago was completely devastating and hopeless. In the following spring however, sprouts of hopes began to show as if to prove that there is always hope even in the moment of great despair.

▷Many people saw that kind of despair in the Daegu subway fire. People were angry, finding out that officials at the subway corporation were rushing to cover their wrongdoings instead of taking due safety measures. Families of the victims who are lying in hospital beds or who perished during the fire, must truly be in despair. ˝Strong souls are born through hardship and pain,˝ Helen Keller once said. At any moment of despair, we surely hope that great human victories will prevail in the end against that suffering.

Bae Kyu-hwan, guest writer and professor at Kookmin University, khbae@kookmin.ac.kr