[FOUNTAIN]Meeting the Crisis Point Unafraid

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[FOUNTAIN]Meeting the Crisis Point Unafraid

Crisis, an English word, was derived from the Greek word, krinein, which means to decide, to discern, to separate. Krinein was once used as a medical term meaning a sudden paroxysmal intensification of symptoms in the course of a disease. At this time, a doctor had to determine the patient's possibility of recovery. If he determined that the patient had no chance to survive, then the patient would undergo a procedure to separate him from life. Considering the root of the word, the sense of a point at which a decision must be made on a life and death matter is inherent in the word "crisis."

Psychologists explain that people go through three stages of response to a crisis - denial, anger and acceptance. At first, they tend to deny the existence of the crisis. When it becomes impossible to deny, they move to the next stage, expressing anger that such a thing could have happened to them. As the crisis continues, they enter the stage of acceptance, falling into the trap of feeling helpless. Some psychology scholars describe this insensitivity to crisis as a roller coaster effect. Riding a roller coaster, people feel frightened on the first loop, but they lose their fear as the ride goes on. Similarly, people can become anesthetized to the fear of the crisis, as they face repeated crises. Finally, they will fall into a state of anomie, failing to make important decisions promptly because they do not feel the crisis as a reality. Never has the word "crisis" been used so often in our society as these days. The national health insurance system is in crisis because of the hole in its financing. School education is in crisis because of the collapsing public education system. Home and society face crisis as moral insensitivity spreads, and the media companies are in crisis due to the tax investigation and internal power struggles. We do not even have to mention the political circles that are always in crisis. The "sunshine policy" of engagement with North Korea, encountered crisis as the new Bush administration emerged, and the export sector is in crisis because the value of the yen has plunged. Seoul National University, known to be the top school in the country, is also in crisis, as declared by 84 percent of its professors. Because we go on the roller coaster ride too often, we are confused as to whether we are in the stage of anger or acceptance.

Although crises come without prior notice, no crisis comes without a signal. Neither an individual nor an organization can be free from crisis. The issue is whether one can detect advance signals promptly and properly, and prepare countermeasures. A survey of American companies found that those with a crisis-management system are 2.5 times more likely to overcome crises successfully than those without such a system. Far worse than the crisis itself, scholars agree, is insensitivity to a coming crisis.

by Bae Myung-bok

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