Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Is It 'Cool' Not To Be Thankful?

A recent column in the Catholic Times focuses on the implications surrounding the Danish word 'Tak'. The columnist reminds us that there is a great deal to be said for the word, which means 'thank you'. She points out, humorously, that though it is only one syllable long and can be said easily and frequently, it goes a long way to helping maintain a positive attitude and to more living with laughter.

In Korean, the word used most often to say 'thank you' usually  has four syllables and is not easy to say. Gratitude, expressed with words, is not a big part of Korean culture.  All of us are rather stingy in our expression of thanks, and quick to get angry at any slight. On the internet and in news broadcasts, women and men often use blunt, immoral, violent and insulting words, seemingly giving voice to the context of the society we currently live in. 

She attributes this to our failure in not being helpful to others.  She believes the young people's understanding of the English slang word 'cool' influenced the young in adopting this disregard for others.  'Cool' has been accepted as a word that concentrates on the individual, and ignores as unimportant the ways of the established culture. This word could be used, she believes,  to show what has happened in society over the past decades. It has taken on a meaning in Korean that does not follow the understanding of most in the English-speaking world, which would include the ideas of neat, elegant, bubbling with life, no bad after-effects--not needing to say thanks is not one of them.

The columnist introduces us to a diocese that has decided to do something about this trend. One of the greetings they have decided to use is: "How can I be of help," which has developed into a movement among the Christians, which coincides with the diocese celebrating its 50th year since its founding. The movement's goal is not only to bring about a more open attitude on the part of the individual but also as a way of spiritualizing their life. The Movement hopes this will also take hold in the greater society. The complete slogan is "Thanks, how can I help you?  I love you."

We know that words are not the answer to problems facing society. The fast moving scientific culture and excessive materialism of Korean society has made us indifferent toward our neighbors, and our sensibilities toward our traditional ethical values and the dignity of life have been distorted. The "What can I do for you?" movement is a way of turning our gaze to the other, setting aside our unconcern and lack of sensitivity to what others are experiencing, in an effort to do something about the impoverishment of our inner life.

No comments:

Post a Comment