It has become our best season, a beautiful autumn with a bountiful array of colors beginning to emerge. Like this season, all of you are in your emerging bountiful prime time as well. Your gentle and bright smiles remind me of this verse from the ancient philosopher Aristotle. He said “friendships help the young in guarding from error… they help those in their prime of life to do beautiful action.”
For Aristotle, the highest end for human beings is to live a good life individually and collectively, and according to this great master, friendship is an essential component for living a good life. I fully appreciate his idea when I think about my friendships with you in the Ewha community.
As a teacher, my grand goal is to help you to challenge conventional thinking and introduce you to newly invented ideas that will broaden the basis of your knowledge, which enables all of us to respond more knowledgeably to the issues and problems in this society. Additionally, I hope to help you live a life full of quality by improving your learning about the way to seek a good life for yourselves. The living of a good life by an individual eventually affects all of us as members of this community. In this sense, my dream is not irrelevant to your happiness so I call my students to be my friends.
For me, you are all beginners as responsible adults in choosing the best for yourselves and for our society as well. Maybe you are in between adolescence and being fully grown. Maybe your parents or other adults around you have guided you well so far. However, at some point, you would have to decide many critical matters by yourselves without their advices. Sometimes you should be courageous to take an alternative approach others have not taken. There definitely comes the moment of feeling helpless while experiencing the fear of getting lost in some stage of your lives. However, if you have friends, regardless of their age, gender, and social status, as Aristotle said, “they will definitely help you.”
However, the best friends of your lives come from your peer group, your generation, because they can fully sympathize with what you think and feel, and share the same dream. Some of you might deem your peer colleagues only as present or future competitors because our actual education system forces you to compete with other students in all courses in your school. As a result, we, adults, took valuable chances to learn to make friends and have fun together at school from you. Sometimes you have to compete with people in your peer group in certain areas such as earning the highest grade or gaining a job.
Competition is sometimes a good strategy for gaining an effective result, but we don’t have to be a permanent competitor with one another in every matter. Living a good life is more than wining in a game. Moreover, you don’t have to give up friendship at the expense of your success. As a matter of fact, good friends are truly helpful in overcoming your hardships and directing you to better choices because they are the best people to acknowledge your potential and value, though they are still young.
Friends make your prime season significant, because life is more meaningful when caring people are brought closer together. Each moment in your twenties is destined to never return. Before leaving this beautiful moment of life at Ewha, would you try to make one more friend who enables your prime moment to be evermore valuable?
Professor Park In-hee is a lecturer in the Department of Christian Studies. She recieved her doctor’s degree in Christian Studies in Ewha and is currently lecturing Share Leadership along with Christianity and the World.