Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Helps in Fostering Eye Level Communication

Walking the night streets  of Seoul up until a few years ago, women had little  to fear, today even men walking in some of the alleys have need to be concerned.  Writing in the Kyeongyang magazine a professor emeritus feels it is a breakdown of communication, no community. TV, the internet the social network has taken its place, and we have become hermits. The extended family has disappeared, and we are living isolated from others, satisfied to communicate by machines in the privacy of our rooms. And crime, he wants us to ponder, the kind that is even difficult to speak about is one of  the fall-outs from the breakdown  of communication. 

In the West, the individual is center stage while in East Asia, it is the "we" that is important: relationships and community. These are values from our culture. Our relationship and communication are not vertical but horizontal. Plurality, differences, tolerance, embracing, understanding, coexistence, win-win,  concern, these are our cultural  values. The problems that we are facing in society can be seen as this failure in  communication.

Because one has lived longer,  or has a better education,  or has more of this world's goods does  not give them the right to  lead  and  attempt to change things to meet their own expectations. This is not what we mean by communication. This kind of vertical  relationship strictly speaking  is using force and commands   to communicate. What we need is eye level communication not enlightening communication.

The writer introduces us to Cardinal Kim as an example of a communicator for our times. He wanted to be food  and a fool and a vessel for others. In talking to others, he lowered himself to the lowest possible level to initiate his relationship with the other. There are three words that the professor uses to describe the Cardinal's approach to others: food, being a fool and a container. 

In Korean when  a person is beneath taking notice the expression, he or she is our food can be heard. The Cardinal had this idea of being food for others. A container does carry food but also can be a receptacle  for night soil.  When speaking to another if we do not have an authenticity on both sides with  eye level communication where words and  thinking are  the same we will not have heart to heart dialogue. 

Without conversation, it  is impossible  to live. In the family without dialog, we have a rupture. This is true for the teacher and student, priest and Christians,  politicians and people. Without dialogue, it is impossible  for a society to subsist.

 In conclusion, the professor reminds us of the words of the Cardinal not to blame the darkness but to be a light to the world. If we are the first to light the candle, then others will join us one by one until we have thousands doing the same. This will gradually permeate society, and we will be on the way to  realize our dreams.     


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