Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Red Queen's Theory

An article in the Kyeongyang magazine by a member of the diocesan pastoral committee for family introduces the readers to the words of the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass: "Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place."

Simply expressed,  if we do not continue to move we will be overtaken by others and fall behind. This is the kind of society we have made. The children, especially in their studies, are faced with this reality.The older generation feels sorry and helpless for their plight but is this the correct direction?

A wise person needs leisure. Our situation in Korea is gloomy. According to OECD in 2016 Koreans on the average worked for 2,113 hours a year. Of all the member countries, Korea was the second highest. Japan was 1,719 hours a year, 400 less than Korea.

The word leisure comes from the Latin word licere (be allowed) freedom from necessary occupation. The word school derives from the Greek word schole, originally meaning leisure. We can see how far we have come from the original meaning of leisure in our schooling, because of competition. We have to outdo others. After school, the speed continues to increase and we have personal and family accidents.

Speed has to be reduced otherwise we miss the most important moments of life. We have to slow down to a pace where we can stop and look around. We should take time to measure the speed in which we live. 

Psychologists distinguish between pleasure and enjoyment. Both give happiness but there is a world of difference between them. Pleasure takes little energy, effort and easily achieved: eating a good meal, watching television, playing with the handphone etc. but it is temporary and disappears with the end of the action.

Enjoyment, on the other hand, the energy expended gives rise to more energy. We don't have only instant gratification but the added satisfaction that continues: reading, playing an instrument, a sport, study, prayer etc.. Pleasure is a good but we need the proper balance of pleasure and enjoyment.

He concludes with a layman's treatment of the brain waves: alpha and beta. The alpha appears when at peace and the beta when anxious. When these waves appear at the proper times we have health. Koreans because of the fast pace of life and stress, the beta waves are predominant.

If we want to supplement the alpha waves we have to take time our of our busy life and spend time in prayer and meditation. Where have we come from and where are we going? We have been given this moment in time and need to live it fully.

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