[VIEWPOINT]2 emotions dominate world today

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[VIEWPOINT]2 emotions dominate world today

My nephew, an elementary school third-grader who likes to indulge in riddles, had one for me the other day. “Auntie,” he asked, “do you know the one thing that everyone in the world is doing right now?”
“Let me see,” I answered. “All the people in the world are getting older.” Mine was a pretty good response, I thought.
“Getting older?” My nephew cried. “That’s wrong. The answer is: ‘Everyone in the world is breathing.’”
I could have argued with his answer, for all human beings are destined to get old the moment they are born. But I gave up. As a matter of fact, I really would have liked to have told him, “One thing that everyone in the world is doing at this moment is mentally loving or hating someone else.”
We live different lives depending on race, nationality, age and occupation, but all characteristics in our lives boil down to relations of love and hate. It’s unlikely for someone to say, “I don’t love anyone” when asked whom he loves. He may fall into a passionate, crazy love, or he may retain a polite love, though he isn’t conscious of it. Old or young, everyone, including someone convicted of murder, surely cherishes love.
On the other hand, most people harbor some hate for another, though the degree of hate usually differs from person to person. It may be an abhorrence that makes people feel like killing someone. Or it may be a dislike that only you can resolve alone. Even an angelic person may want to get even with someone who has caused him hurt.
We usually come in contact with three groups of people. The first group is composed of those who feel friendly toward you, but usually keep five steps away. They keep this distance because it prevents getting hurt.
The second group involves those who love you, but stay one step away. To honor each other’s freedom, they keep some distance, but if you fall they will fall with you. Those who love you will gladly give a hand to you when you fall, even though they know they might be hurting themselves. They will fall with you and help you up when you fall.
The third group is made up of those who hate you and thus turn their back to you. They are sensitive to your every action and they will push you away if compelled. They are waiting for you to make a mistake and to make use of your mistakes. If you start to fall, they’ll push you to cause further injury.
We are breathing because we live. All people are entangled with love and hate because we are human beings. How much distance do I keep from those I know?
I suppose there are many more people I refuse to face than I love, keeping one step away from each other.
If everyone like me changes his mind, if we all stand closer instead of keeping a noticeable distance, if we keep a distance but don’t turn our backs, if we fall together and share together, then this world will, quite possibly, never again see another horrible war.

* The writer is a professor of English literature at Sogang University.

by Chang Young-hee
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