Opinion: Divided notions

Commentary by Terry Anker

If we were to name only one, what would it be? Certainly, we thinking humans establish our lives in ways that set personal priorities. But if we had to identify a single thing, around which the whole of our lives was formed, could we do it? We might put our faith at the top of the list, or family, or career, or education.  Others could hold that avoiding an addiction to be of the highest order – each moment would place that desire to precede all other needs. Often, our priorities shift over time. Those of us who put our children at the zenith would have surely not considered such a structure before beginning a family.

Whatever the prioritization, we all follow some chart helping us to navigate our way in the tumultuous sea of daily existence. Alas, for some, we think so precious little about what our Polaris is (or should be) that we are led by it with little notion of its presence – or worse, our dominion over it. Still, others of us choose dangerous principals that can expose us to great harm.

Over the past 64 years, North and South Korea, a people divided, have followed different guiding stars. The leaders of the North set as their first objective the preserving of their political regime. As such, military needs consume most resources, and national priorities are tightly constrained. The South followed an intellectual path to free markets and open democracy. Today, there are vast differences, evidenced by these divergent roads, with two of the starkest being life expectancy, which is 25 percent greater in South Korea, where personal freedom exists.

If priorities set long-ago can destructively constrain our future growth, do we fall behind in failing to routinely review our own guide stars?