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[Opinion] Apologia

Posted November. 02, 2003 22:45,   


Apologia – Our people are quite used to the apologies of the current president. We also have experienced the bitter apologies of ex-presidents. Recently, even the ex-presidential candidate, who has retired from the political arena, has apologized to the people. Public officials, the business world, the mass media, and university presidents are extremely helpless, when confronted by the pressing-on requests of apologia. In our society, it seems that more and more people are making apologies and their effects are lingering on and on. Nowadays, newspapers are full of those who make an apology, request an apology, should apologize and who would not. This is the world where “apology-makers,” not newsmakers, are prevalent.

Apologia is a genre in rhetoric. The origin of this word comes from “Apologia Sokratous (Defense of Socrates).” Socrates was sentenced to death after he gave his famous defense, saying that “wisdom of ignorance” is the gift from god to himself. Following the example of Socrates, many prominent people, such as Richard Nixon and Edward Kennedy, have defended their situations with various logics whenever they were cornered in public court. Apologia of the West has been an important means of defense for public figures attacked by public opinion, but it has not helped them escape punishment, however logical and eloquent their apologia might be.

In spite of the affluent traditions, apologia in the West has declined. The major reason for this is the development of various law and order, which have deprived public figures of any room for clumsy excuses. Besides, the activity of public relations experts has supported this decline in apologia. They move between public figures and the masses and counsel these prominent people to improve the situations by taking preemptive actions when public court shows any sign to come up. Compared to this, our nation seems to enjoy the heyday of apologia. Our corrupted political climate, legal systems full of loopholes and paternalism, with one good word solving all the problems, results in a nation full of apologies. Those who politely apologize are better than those who pass the buck. However, they are no better than those who have not done anything to apologize in the first place. If law and order can prevent the situations requiring apologia beforehand, it would be much better.

The victim is the people who have to listen to all these apologies. Too many apologies increase the immunity of the people. Now the people do not trust them any more. What’s the use of an apology in this world anyway? Where the secret money of an ex-president has been excavated inside and outside of the country, even 15 years after he left for a Buddhist temple with tears in his eyes as if he had renounced the mundane world.

Commented by Park Sung hee, a guest editorial writer and Professor of Ewha University, Journalism and Mass Communication