Monday, September 18, 2017

'Me Alone' Society

A survey that was recently made shows that in the year 2025 we will have over 30 % of the citizens living alone. 'One member household', 'eating alone', 'individual economy', all new ways of expressing a new social reality. We moved from the extended family to the nuclear and now the living alone situation. A priest professor writes in the Kyeongyang magazine on this new reality. In his opinion not a temporary phase but a new cultural reality.

A broad definition of culture would be the mold for the life we live. Consequently, once we change the culture we have all kinds of confusion in society. Korea was a nation with the extended family and respect for the elderly, filial piety was a great value. We passed very quickly to the nuclear family and to the one person household: single life, divorce, the death of a spouse, either willingly or not we have independence and isolation for many different reasons.

Korea for over 500 years during the Joseon dynasty, outside of politics and economics, stability was present. These days we have the  philosophy of individualism spreading and taking hold in society.

Individualism challenges tradition, cultural practices, established structures, and religion, with contrary values. Heidegger, the German philosopher, called this losing your hometown. Now everyone does their own thing.

Individualism of the West has matured and is embedded in society. Korea without any preparation is made to face this new way of being and the results are selfishness and immaturity. Also, we have chaos in society and many find it hard to cope: develop mental and identity problems.

This new culture of aloneness is not within the monastery but in the life of the city. On the foundation of individualism, an absence of security,  technological advances in communication, development of women's issues and the like which become part of city life.

In Sweden 47 %  of the citizens live alone. In the capital Stockholm 60 % live alone. Individualism and independence have supported the culture. However, they live alone but form communities, recreate together, eat together, simply expressed they are authentic and altruistic and have a well-developed welfare network.

The individualism of the West is based on a Christian foundation and contains a respect for humanity, and a person's autonomy and a high degree of welfare for the citizens. Korea has a shamanistic underpinning and outside of the individual, a universal concept is not well developed. A universal concept allows for devotion and a high degree of altruism and concern for social welfare. A  'me alone' society is concerned for itself. Money and time are missing for the interacting with others. We are so busy with our own needs that it's difficult to be concerned with others. This is not true with those with money and leisure.

Across all strata of society, there is a need to work on  identity, confidence in one's dignity and to increase a person's autonomy. A sense of joy in life will work to increase our concern for welfare. Happiness comes when others are also happy. Hell is  isolation and heaven, solidarity with others. This is true for those living alone and those living with others.

'Me alone society' has to be cognizant of this otherwise we are heading for disaster and for the writer this will not be easily avoided.

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