My usual mode of transport in Seoul, apart from the traditional taubale, paidar or stroll, is to take the Metro - the subway or underground railway system. Notices and announcements are presented in a variety of languages, including English, which is helpful for the foreigner who hopes he hasn't gotten on a train travelling in the opposite direction — something I am very familiar with.
There are many announcements and messages about polite or courteous travelling — how not to push your way into the train, reminding you to speak quietly on your mobile phone, to offer your seat to the elderly, pregnant, disabled or those with small children. These messages reinforce the concept of being considerate to one's fellow travellers.
There is another announcement which is echoed in another underground railway system in another country — where the Olympic Games have just concluded. The London Underground or "Tube" is famous for the regular announcement to "Mind the Gap". The gap, in this instance, being the space between the train and the station platform.
I am sure many a foot has been stuck and countless wallets, phones and other valuables have fallen through this gap.
The issue of being mindful of gaps comes to mind in the calls from many sectors for full participation in current constitutional process.
In our democratic household (save for occasions when mum and dad need to suspend certain rights and issue decrees to the children for the sake of order and sanity) we have been discussing the reports of submissions made so far and reflecting on what contributions we could make to this process.
The "grown-ups" are thinking about the Fiji they have lived in so far and the kind of Fiji they want to live in.
We have thought and discussed many broad issues; agreed and disagreed with some of the submissions we have read or heard about.
However, as I read that submissions could be made in various forms, including song, dance and artwork, I began to think about my two children and, reflecting on the type of submission that they might produce, I realised that I had not bothered to talk to them about the very important document being developed that would play a significant part in shaping their future.
I am not sure how much of the civic education or awareness around the constitutional process is inclusive of children. I wonder how many of us share with our little ones, the important developments taking place.
Young men and women born either just before or post-1987 have shared their views in many forums about the kind of Fiji they want and the kind of Fiji they don't want.
But what of those born between 2000 and 2006 — those about to enter their teens or already in school now and growing up in this time? These children and young people have experienced a very different childhood from our own.
I realised that for all my attempts in empowering people in my community, I had allow to very important people to slip through the gap.
I was thinking about the kind of Fiji I wanted, what I thought would be best for my children. I had not bothered to consider what they might have to contribute. So my wife and I asked the children to think about what kind of Fiji they wanted to live in.
Interestingly, both their responses had to do with education. My son wanted to learn about the different cultures in Fiji: "really learn, not just read about it." While he currently is fixated on Bollywood dance items and UB40 (his favourite band since he was two years-old), this Class Five student is at a stage where he wants to understand and appreciate the different cultural practices of the people of his homeland, many of which are part of his own developing hybrid culture.
Our daughter decided to express her thoughts in a drawing and a short statement which even for a class-two student gave me pause for thought.
She thinks it is important for expressive /fine arts to be compulsory in school at all levels so that children can develop their skills and have more opportunities in the future.
At the same time, in her own way, she believes being able to express oneself fully through art, music and dance will help people understand one another and live together in peace.
Out of the mouths of babes indeed.
I learnt some very important lessons from this exercise, which is far from over as my children continue to learn about the importance of a constitution.
One important lesson is that we have to "mind the gap" and ensure that no one - regardless of gender, status, ability, age, educational level or ideology is left behind - both in the constitutional process and in our determining of Fiji's future.
The second is much like the first, in that we need to always keep in mind the needs of the other. This is a time not just for thinking about what we want, or what is important to us, but to consider what is important to others and affirm others needs as well.
"Simplicity, Serenity, Spontaneity."
* Reverend JS Bhagwan is a Masters in Theology student at the Methodist Theological University in Seoul, South Korea. Views expressed are the author's and not
necessarily those of The Fiji Times. Visit the blog http://thejournalofaspiritualwonderer.blogspot.com/ or