Last November 14th, many people gathered at the Gwanghwamun sqauare in opposition of the government issued textbook, to resolve the Sewol ferry disaster and other issues. This public meeting began peaceful. However, conflict between the public and the police became aggressive, and farmer Baek Nam-ki was hit by a water cannon and lapsed into unconsciousness. Due to these circumstances, public opinion and the press have been split when arguing who was in the wrong. However, we need to think again about why this public meeting was held in the first place. The first issue was the government issued textbook. The government’s position is that they will designate history textbooks to adjust current left leaning biases. When the government announcement was made public, history professors resisted the decision. However, the government’s decision is like one way street and they are unwilling to negotiate on the issue. That is the primary reason of the meeting. Despite this reason, we are now trapped into a conflict of excessive police crackdown and violent behavior by demonstrators. Naturally, it is right to punish unlawful acts. However, it should not cover or overshadow the essence of the incident. This time, we need to ask the government why they are pushing their policies unilaterally and why they still plan to push ahead the government’s designation of textbooks despite strong opposition from the public and professors.
Buddha said this story when he preached to public: There are a wise man and a foolish man. The wise man pointed moon to say something. However, foolish man saw the wise man’s finger. The wise man reminded him not to look at his finger but to see the moon. At last, the foolish man understood. We need to remind ourselves that we should be looking at the moon and not the finger.