[VIEWPOINT]Life in the Fast Lane

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[VIEWPOINT]Life in the Fast Lane

While it is true that everyone feels inclined to think that his generation is in the most difficult situation in history. This is especially true of contemporary generation, who believe that they live really weary lives. On the basis of this thinking, the idea of "speed competition" has come into existence. Speed became unwittingly considered as the most important virtue in our society. We are apt to give cheers to faster things and jeers to slower things. We don't think slower things deserve even a passing notice.

As we have to keep up with fast society, our lives turn busy and our bodies get exhausted. We are always uneasy, for fear that we should hold pace with the speed. Once falling behind the line, life becomes really difficult. So, who can be free from this "speed competition?"

The "hurry-hurry" culture of Korea has been criticized whenever big accidents happened due to slipshod work. But there is no progress this way. It proves that individual reflections cannot solve this problem, because the problem is not a personal deviation, but a social structural vice. We are showing a collective insanity, all of us sticking to the speed myth. This insanity naturally defines "slowly, later, behind" as irrational things and rejects them, while regarding "fast, first, ahead" as rational things.

Speed and rationality themselves are not targets that should be denounced. They are energetic and productive origin that produced today's world through western civilization. Likewise, it's true that speed has contributed a lot to the economic growth in our society.

Korea has developed into one of the most industrialized countries in the world from one of the poorest countries, thanks mainly to the rationality of speed. "Fast, first, ahead" enabled us to achieve this success.

But the rationality of speed is exceeding the speed limit. While a car running at the velocity of 100 kilometers per hour will take us to our destination, we don't know where a car speeding more than 200 kilometers per hour will take us. The former car is "moving," but the latter car is "scudding." We can think, talk about, understand and have sympathy for the "moving" car, but there is only an unilateral and subjective view of the "scudding" car.

The former car is heading for the destination, but the latter car is running away from the destination. The rationality passing by the critical point is destroying many things, including meaning and morality. When the rationality of speed is running away from the goal instead of moving toward the goal, it separates from meaning and morality. Meaning and morality are formed through consideration, understanding and sympathy.

But the rationality of speed labels interactions of slow emotions as irrational things. Meaning and morality hamper going ahead and fast. What is the meaning and whether it is morally right or not are unimportant for those whose goal is just to reach the destination faster than others are. The reforms pursued by the government cannot be excluded from this category.



The writer is a professor of sociology at Yonsei University.

by Lew Seok-choon

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