The Paradox of Our Age
The Paradox of Our Age
  • Editor-in-chief Ahn Joon-hyung
  • 승인 2010.01.01 20:52
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The recent advances in science and technology have brought us many benefits. We can get access to high quality information through the Internet, can get to everywhere in the world by airplanes, and can live longer than before by the development of medical science. These changes have provided human beings a lot of conveniences, so most people accept science and technology as a good thing without criticism. Especially, Postechians are likely to accept this concept indiscriminately because our goal of study is to achieve scientific development.

But if I were questioned, “Are you happy now in this highly developed society?”, my answer would be, “Absolutely not.” I have had this opinion since I traveled around India and Thailand last spring.

As you know, India is one of the least modernized countries in the world and many Indians have no access to the benefits of modern scientific development. For this reason, when doing something they depend largely on human relationships and man power, not on technological devices. So there are few possibilities for the modernized way of life to take control of people. Traveling for 40 days, I also became accustomed to the environment, and I acted in totally different ways from my usual machine-dependent prosaic life in Korea. I approached a person whom I have never met before, and said hello first. Talking about common interests like movies and sports, I could get along with them immediately. If I were in Korea, I could never become friends with a person I met on the street once.

After finishing my journey in India, I headed for my next destination, Thailand. When I arrived in the country, I was surprised by its developed image. All things were better than India, for example, clean public transportation, people using high-tech devices in the streets, and skyscrapers downtown. Most people were blessed with the benefit of modern civilization. But, ironically, there were few interactions among people. It looked like that they were only interested in movies on their small portable electric devices, not in people standing next to them.

Experiencing two totally different countries in a short time, I could realize that something was wrong. Although the most important thing in our life is happiness, most people run the rat race every day to develop technology and to improve productivity, and therefore they cannot feel happy. Instead of warm feelings among people, only cold interactions between people and machines are left.

Related to these social phenomena, the Tibetan Buddhist teacher, the 14th Dalai Lama, gave a famous speech, ‘The Paradoxes of Our Age’.

We have more conveniences, but less time;
More degrees, but less sense;
More knowledge, but less judgment;
More experts, but more problems;
More medicines, but less healthiness;
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.
We have become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods, but slow digestion;
Tall men, but short character;
Steep profits, but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room.

In short, now we suffer from spiritual poverty in the development-seeking society. Although advances in science and technology must be very important for the happiness of mankind, the most essential thing is to overcome the paradox of our age. That is to say, it is time to seriously think about our real happiness.