Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pursuit of Wealth As the Goal in Life

The Kyunghyang magazine has an article by a professor emeritus on the need to make ourselves  the owners of our lives. He begins with a list of suicides that took place during one month. The suicide death of a mother and her two children because of poverty, a mother with her two children jumping off an apartment building, one died with the mother, and the other in a serious condition. A taxi driver suffering from cancer of the liver, together with his wife, killed themselves; a mother in her thirties  with her son jumped off  a high-rise apartment building, all of these shocking many in society.

Korea has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. It has increased in the last 20 years 3 fold, especially among the young and old. In recent years, we have had family suicides. Statistics from 2012 have 28.2 suicides for every 100 thousand.

Emile Durkheim the French sociologist divided suicides into three types: the altruistic, the selfish and the anomic  suicides. Anomie  refers to a lack of connection with others and a lack of regulation of behavior. Durkheim saw the reason for suicide less to do with the feeling and motivations of the individual  and more from  the societal environment in which the person finds themselves: social instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values.
Korean society is no longer what it used to be. 

Competition is one of the most intense in the world. Those that win in the competition do well but those that don't, which are the majority, feel a sense of deprivation and a loss of meaning. The professor lists a number of existentialist philosophers and their thought. Sartre: we are condemned to be free. Camus: we must face the absurdity of life with absurdity but this is not without meaning in life, and  he does not look on the absurdity negatively. "It is because I am in opposition to this absurdity that I exist." This is Camus' way in being in solidarity with others.

The professor goes on to mention the economic strength of Korea, that has grown in 50 years from poverty to one of the strongest economies in the world. However, now we have many of the young, who can't find a meaning for life and are lost. They are faced with a choice for freedom or uncertainty: two sides of the same coin.

Existence has a special meaning for humanity. We are the only part of creation that can determine its own goals. All other created existences are determined. Humanity has wide-open potentiality: the possibility of determining our existence and the meaning we want to give it. We have to determine what we want our existence to mean. Each one of us, says the professor, has to engage his conscience to determine how they are to live their existence. 

In conclusion, the professor mentions that the young people do not have the freedom to develop their potentiality. Their education is uniform that makes them into puppets. Society is only interested in the pursuit of wealth. The two possibilities are the pursuit of wealth or its opposition.
Society should be giving these young people a variety of possibilities to pursue. First of all, we have to determine the gifts that they have received from their early years: their disposition, talents, tastes and allow them to grow in an educational system in which they are able to communicate these gifts.

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