Setting a goal in life is similar to planting a tree. If you plant a
jujube tree in the front yard of your home, you will have jujubes
in your home. If you plant apple trees on the hill behind your
of goals and where you intend to plant them. Depending on the goal
you choose and where you plant it, you can become a jujube tree in
Seoul or an apple tree in Africa. Or you can become a palm tree in the
South Pacific. The goal you plant will bear fruit in the future. Think
carefully where the best place is to plant your goal so that it will bear
the best fruit.
When you are setting your goal, be sure to consider the entire
world. Consider Africa, which continues to suffer from poverty and
disease. Consider Israel and Palestine, where people continue to aim
their weapons at each other and fight over matters of religion. Consider
Afghanistan, where people barely keep themselves alive by raising
poppy plants used to make harmful drugs. Consider the United States,
which has thrown the world’s economy into a pit with its extreme greed
and selfishness. Consider Indonesia, which suffers from continued
earthquakes and tidal waves. Imagine yourself in the context of those
countries, and think which country and which situation would be most
appropriate for you. It may be that you are best suited to India, where
a new religious conflict may erupt. Or it could be Rwanda, which languishes
in drought and hunger.
In setting a goal, students shouldn’t be so foolish as to decide that
because a country is small, like Korea, it isn’t worthy of your goals. Depending
on what you do, there is no limit to how large a small country
can become. Its national boundaries could even disappear. Whether you
do good work on the large continent of Africa or in the small country
of Korea, your goal should not be restricted by size. Your goals should
be about where your talents can have the most impact. So you should
think of the world as your stage as you decide what you want to do in
life. If you do, you will likely find many more things to do than what you
were originally dreaming about. You have only one life to live, so use
it to do something that the world needs. You cannot reach the hidden
treasure on an island without adventure. Please think beyond your own
country, and think of the world as your stage in setting your goal.
During the 1980s, I sent many Korean university students to Japan
and the United States. I wanted them to leave Korea, where teargas
canisters were exploding almost daily, and let them see a wider world
with greater variety. The frog that lives at the bottom of a well does not
realize that there is a bigger world outside the well.
I was thinking globally before that word even entered the Korean
language. The reason I went to Japan to study was to see a wider world.
The reason I planned to work for the Manchuria Electric Company
in Hailar, China, and learn the Chinese, Russian, and Mongolian languages,
even before Korea was liberated, was to enable me to live as a
global citizen. Even now I travel by plane to many places in the world.
If I were to visit a different country every day, it would take more
than six months to visit all of them. People live in many countries, and
they all live in different circumstances. There are places where there is
no water to cook rice with, while other places have too much water.
Some places have no electricity, while some countries are not able to
consume all the electricity that they produce. There are many examples
of how something is lacking in one place but overabundant in another.
The problem is there are not enough people focused on equalizing the
The same is true with raw materials. Some countries have an abundance
of coal and iron ore stacked in piles. They don’t even need to dig
into the earth. All they need to do is shovel the coal and iron ore from
piles that are easily accessed. Korea, however, has a critical shortage of
coal and iron ore reserves. To dig out anthracite coal we need to risk our
lives to go thousands of feet underground.
Likewise with technology. Africa has many places where bananas
grow naturally in abundance, and they could keep people from starving.
But there is a lack of technology and lack of access to productive
land, so not enough banana plantations are created. Korea’s climate is
not suited for growing bananas, and yet we grow bananas. This technology
in Korea could be very helpful in solving the problem of poverty in
Africa. It is similar to the way that South Korean technology for planting
corn has helped relieve starvation in North Korea.
The phrase global leader is now in vogue in Korea. People say they
want to become fluent in English and become global leaders. Becoming
a global leader, however, is not a matter of a person’s fluency in English.
The ability to communicate in English is nothing more than a tool. A
true global leader is someone who is able to embrace the world in his
own bosom. A person who has no interest in the problems of the world
cannot become a global leader, no matter how well he might communicate
To be a global leader a person must think of the world’s problems
as his own and have the pioneering spirit that is needed for
finding difficult solutions. A person who is attached to a secure
and fixed income, or dreams of having a pension after retirement
and a comfortable family life, cannot be a global leader. To become
a global leader a person must consider the whole world to
be his country and all humanity to be his brothers and sisters and
not be overly concerned that he does not know what the future
may hold for him.
What are siblings? Why did God give us siblings? Siblings symbolize
human beings around the world. The experience of loving
our brothers and sisters in the family teaches us how to love our fellow
countrymen and love humanity. Our love for our own siblings
expands in this way. The family whose members love each other is a
model of how humanity can live together in harmony. Love among
siblings means that one sibling is willing to go hungry, if necessary,
so that his brother or sister can eat. A global leader is someone who
loves humanity as he loves his own family.
It has been awhile since we first heard the phrase global village.
Yet the earth has always been a single community. If a person’s goal
in life is to graduate from a university, get a job with a company that
will pay him a high salary, and lead a secure life, then that person
will have the success of a puppy. But if he dedicates his life to helping
refugees in Africa, he will have the success of a lion. The course that
is chosen depends on the heart of the individual.
Even at the age of ninety, I continue to travel around the world. I
refuse to rest from my mission. The world is like a living organism in
that it is always changing. New problems are always arising. I go to the
dark corners of the world where these problems exist. These are not the
places with beautiful views or comfortable amenities, but I feel happy
in places that are dark, difficult, and lonely because that is where I’m
fulfilling my mission, my purpose, my goals.
My hope is that Korea will produce global leaders in the true sense.
I hope to see more political leaders who will lead the United Nations to
fulfill its purpose and more diplomatic leaders who will stop the fighting
in areas of conflict. I hope to see someone like Mother Teresa who
will take care of those wandering and dying on the streets. I hope to see
peace leaders who will take on my mission of pioneering new solutions
from the land and sea.
The starting point is to have a dream and a goal. Please have an
adventurous and pioneering spirit. Dream dreams that others dare not
imagine. Set goals for yourselves that have meaning, and become global
leaders who will bring benefit to humankind.