Political Altruism

By Fuana Tmarsel —-

His story is one of sadness and sheer determination to live, and to achieve a dream, even against all odds.  He was sent to orphanage at three years of age. At five, he ran away after he was bullied and beaten, and for the next ten years, he lived on the streets.  “ I lived like a day fly”, he said, “ selling gums and energy  drinks to survive.”  He slept on stairs, toilets and container boxes. Choi who became an overnight internet sensation, tells how local criminal gangs did not want him selling gum in their turf and once took him to a nearby mountain, dug a hole and buried him. But despite the hardships and adversities, he survived and made his public debut in Korea’s Got Talent Show.

Sung-bong Choi has been referred to as Korean’s Susan Boyle. Remember Susan Boyle, the 47 year-old Scottish whose appearance on Britain’s Got Talent Show was met with sneers and jeers from the audience, not to mention the judges whose reception was even more derisive. Needless to say, she stunned the audience and the judges with her voice of operatic caliber and went on to become and internationally admired singer with a net worth estimated at over 17 million after 2 years. And she is now living the dream she once had – to be as good a singer as Elaine Paige.

It is thrilling to hear stories of geniuses in obscurity who finally get their break and realize the life that they have hungered after. For Sung-Bong Choi, music became a source of comfort, even an escape from the harsh reality of his life. Music gave him the tranquility and peace that his environment was unable to afford him.  He was unsure of his talent, though he must have thought he was good to want to display it in a television show.  Unlike Choi, Susan Boyle was more sure of herself and knew that all she needed was an opportunity to unveil it.

However, my favorite biography is that of William Wilberforce, a British elected MP and social reformist who, inspired by his faith, waged a battle to end transatlantic slave trade and slavery in Britain. Wilberforce’s father was a wealthy merchant who died when Wilberforce was about eight or nine years old. Social class system in Britain is ascribed rather than achieved and although his financial wealth exceeded some members of noble birth, he was considered a commoner and was looked upon as such in the Parliament.

Wilberforce’s dream was not only unpopular, it was met with disdain especially from those of the upper class. But Wilberforce never gave up the fight even though it took over forty years to finally abolish the trade.  His fight was not for himself, it was to enable others to have the freedom that he enjoyed.

Wilberforce saw the injustice in slavery and was moved to correct it.  He lived the ultimate purpose of politics that is to expand and promote “the greatest possible good for the greatest possible number of individuals”.  It is time for Palau to elect politicians with a dream to expand the common good; to practice political altruism.

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