Postechian Column: Challenging Circumstances Lead to Positive Actions
Postechian Column: Challenging Circumstances Lead to Positive Actions
  • Choi Sung-min (Mueunjae 22)
  • 승인 2022.11.13 01:04
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 Resilience is one of human nature’s most highly praised qualities, and it is something that has been highlighted and honored in culture since the dawn of humanity. What is funny to notice is that as venerable a trait as it is, both on a microscopic and a macroscopic scale, it kind of lays dormant during times of euphoria and prosperity, and only awakens in times of turmoil and despair. Why? I just cannot help wondering if it is a biological quirk built inside each one of us or a behavioral flaw that we must fight to tame each day as an individual and as a society.
 I must have been eight years old, and the perfume of red pepper was flooding my room from the kitchen, as it had often happened on weekends in my home back in Dongtan. My mother cooks the best Sundubu I have ever tasted in my life. There is something she does with spices that I have not seen anywhere else. I was studying English, reading Aesop's The Ant and the Grasshopper on the screen of a laptop, and carefully listening to the narration at the same time through my headphones.
 Something about the tale impacted me profoundly, and infuenced how I feel and think today. Why cannot I be more like the ants, capable of depriving themselves from the delicious joys of immediate pleasure to assure a prosperous future? Why do I want to turn on my Xbox now, peek at my Instagram feed, and have fun, right now? As a Korean, English is probably my most difficult class. I almost feel physical pain when it comes to analyzing poetry or doing exercises in narrative writing. When things are close to a deadline, my brain snaps, and I get an almost supernatural boost to cross the finish line. As a freshman, some fellow Postechians seem to be in the same boat.
 In a way, it is very similar to what happens on a global scale, isn't it? It is only when we are challenged that we bring out our best. It was only after the unspeakable bloodshed and the horror of an atomic bomb that the world settled down and decided to revert from nationalistic, isolationist policies to international cooperation. Why did we not do that from the start? Why do we have to jump from one crisis to another in order to bring the positive aspects of human nature to the surface: Napoleonic invasions, Franco-Prussian War, the Korean war, Vietnam, and Iraq. We seem only to learn during tragedy. Why aren’t we as resilient in times of prosperity?
 There are multiple studies that point out the incredible ease with which we can condition our brains to immediate pleasure. The rise of social media is one of the striking examples of how society can be molded by instant gratification. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and our very culture is heading somewhere we still do not quite know. What are the chances of a 20-minute song like Iron Butterfly's 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' hitting the top charts today? Youtube, with its shorter videos, snappy cross-cutting, and overuse of jump cuts is rapidly taking over the entire audiovisual language, leaving other stylistic formulas confined to alternative markets and "quirky" tastes. Again, Trump rose to power with a discourse based on the grammar of a small child.
 We are just too impatient. How will this impact society and culture in the long haul? Should we address this at a political stage? Or is this something we should deal with at the heart of our households? I still cannot wrap my head around it; why do we need a challenge to bring out the best in us. I cannot even decide if this is a good or a bad thing. For now, I just wish I was more like that ant that I read about when I was eight.