OWL Magazine Korea

A World without Mentors?

Looking back at an old article after a long time, I find myself rewriting a piece that may be considered a renewed reflection. It seems that the term “mentor” was widely used in the 2000s. Therefore, it is likely that I, too, wrote an article with a similar title around that time. However, relatively recently, the word “mentor” seems to have disappeared from common usage, fading into the background of history.

“The History of Mentor Resurfacing through the Trojan War”

The origin of “mentor” lies in a person’s name, going back to the Trojan War. Facing an uncertain journey to the war, Odysseus entrusts his son Telemachus to his friend “Mentor.”

Over the course of the Trojan War and the subsequent ten years of Odysseus’ absence, totaling twenty years, Mentor guided Telemachus as a father, a mentor, and a counselor. Despite lacking a father figure, Telemachus grew into an admirable young man. This is where the modern word “mentor” originated, and in contemporary dictionaries, it is defined as follows:

“Mentor (Countable Noun)”

  • A person’s mentor is someone who gives you them help and advice over a period of time, especially help and advice related to their job.

In modern society, a mentor is defined as someone who provides assistance and guidance, especially related to one’s career. The once-important role of mentors who guided us seems to have diminished over time. In the post-COVID era, the word itself has become unfamiliar.

“The Modern Society Where Information Is Accessible Everywhere”

After the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted offline interactions, human relationships were severed. Additionally, the rapid advancement of online platforms enabled us to search and acquire almost all information online. Moreover, with the development of AI, people seem to trust AI more than human guidance.

Due to these societal changes, the word “mentor” has become rare. Once crucial, the guidance of mentors is no longer as sought after, and the word itself seems out of place in contemporary conversations.

“People Who Provide Small Inspirations Could Be Considered Mentors”

Reflecting on the past, the author returns to a post written on September 26, 2009, after participating in a book donation volunteer event at the Daegu SOS Children’s Protection Center. The event involved ordinary people coming together to accomplish something significant.

Looking back, the author realizes that mentors are not necessarily extraordinary individuals but ordinary people working together to make a difference. Mentors, in the author’s perspective, are those who strive to bring about positive changes in the world, even if their efforts seem modest.

The author’s thoughts on mentors haven’t changed significantly. Mentors, in the author’s eyes, are still ordinary people providing small inspirations and making small changes that can lead to significant transformations. In a world where grand mentors seem to have disappeared, those who inspire through small actions still play a crucial role.