Update : 2018.12.13  Thu  No : 499
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The Ironically Lonely Life of the Iron Lady

It is not controversial to say that no one is perfect. In other words, everyone is imperfect. “Everyone” includes anyone regardless of age, gender, background and social status. This is a fact. Another fact is that the acceptability of imperfection changes according to the situation. It is less acceptable for a person to make mistakes because of her position in society. This common knowledge falls flat in the face of a person who works for the common good, ostensibly those in leadership positions at higher education institutions.

HUFS President Kim In-chul will head the university for another four years, starting this March. It is crucial that we think about how the future should be written instead of the dwelling on the past. At this point in time, The Argus reviewed a movie titled “The Iron Lady (2008)” to shed light on a different perspective on leadership.

Margaret Roberts (Meryl Streep) suffers from dementia. She has retired from a lifelong dedication to her nation. Her life spans some 40 years in politics and 11 years as the former prime minister in a western island of great history. The daily events in her present day in which the movie is set trigger vivid memories of her glorious past recorded in her book “The Downing Street Years.” While signing a stack of her memoirs, she makes the mistake of writing her maiden name ‘Roberts’ instead of ‘Thatcher.’
The white-haired lady talks about the price of eggs over breakfast with her dead husband Denis Thatcher (Harry Lloyd). She chats with his phantom though he died years ago. Margaret struggles to accept the loss of her one-and-only companion.

This grocer’s daughter from Grantham first met her future husband in a social gathering. Inspired by her father’s political beliefs, Margaret was determined to make a change in the world. She was also unafraid to speak up against the ignorant male politicians of her time. Her unyielding nature immediately attracted “a moderately successful businessman” who would buy her a ticket to the political world largely dominated by men.

Her response to Denis’ wedding proposal shows how much she loathed the stereotypes of women as housewives who stay home and chitchat over trivial matters. Margaret is desperate to make better use of her life, which explains her interest in politics. When Carol advised her not to go out on her own because of her poor health condition, she scolded her daughter in response.

She had doubts about herself as a leader in the first place. Contrary to her outspoken personality, she wanted to help men to make a change. Her political ambitions loomed larger as her colleagues lit the light.

The U.K. fell onto hard times during her tenure in the 1980s. The prime minister tried to pull it together through financial deregulation, mass privatization, decreased public-service spending and the hobbling of the trade unions. As a result, unemployment soared, the national industrial output collapsed, and the gap between Britain’s new class of millionaires and the poor widened terribly. The turbulent scenes of poll tax riots, the miners’ strike, the IRA bombings lives on in her thoughts near the end of the film. She remembers the people victimized by her decisions. She knew that she could not embrace everyone for the sake of revitalizing the nation’s economy.

The film provides a glimpse into the private life of someone of great historical prominence by showing the threads of emotions invisible to the eyes of the public. Margaret held office for an unprecedented three terms at a time when it was difficult enough to live a life as a lady. The illustrative flashbacks of her bygone days prove the personal cost of power.
In the name of a public figure, people throw all sorts of aggression toward that standing leader. That she is another imperfect human being does not matter anymore because she serves the public. Much of her, and her countrymen’s, efforts to salvage the nation is undervalued. The public take much of their pain, too, granted.  

This private persona may seem different from the viewpoint of the country’s actual female leader. Margaret did recklessly pursue economic revival and that she had enough faith in herself to challenge the majority to push forth her plans was admirable. And yet, she is the same person as we are. She feels empathy for the deceased soldiers. She struggles to keep track of her husband and children. She is also vulnerable to aggressive criticism.

Any figure of great political influence, whether it be positive or negative, draws the most ambivalent response from the public. The film, “The Iron Lady”, showed mixed views toward Thatcher - Britain’s most beloved darling and most hated monster. She made tough decisions at the expense of losing less decisive colleagues, let alone how it affected her private life as a mother. Additionally, she also had to bear all the blame.
A great leader, too, may seem faulty in the eyes of many. An important fact to remember is that a leader, too, has feelings about what happened and what she did wrong. She knows enough to evaluate her performance; it is unnecessary for her opponents to try to make her feel more guilt than she already does. It is only necessary for the public to keep mindful of her actions so that she (or he) does not disappoint us again.

By Lee Sei-yon

2018.03.05  No : 492 Lee Sei-yon disciple@hufs.ac.kr
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