A view of cynicism and the hidden ‘wasabi’ of life

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A view of cynicism and the hidden ‘wasabi’ of life

Recently, I’ve been thinking about cynicism ― why I have such a difficult time tolerating people who are cynical.
Maybe it’s partly due to my age. More and more I seem to lose patience with people who freely voice their critical outlook on life without hesitating. Or maybe it’s just a way of self-denial. Cynicism is a basic attitude that I’ve inherited from my artist friends back in college.
But whatever the cause, I think the only people who should be allowed to be cynical in this world are artists and writers.
You could probably make a book out of this subject. But since I have the privilege of being a newspaper reporter I’ll just make it light and easy here.
I think cynicism is a cheap thing, no matter how good the reasons for it are. It’s an element we all need in dealing with situations where our sincerity has no reason to be wasted, like talking to some awful politicians. I understand it as being a situational device, a self-defense mechanism. But I am talking about people whose basic attitude about life is rooted in cynicism, like my arty friend “Y.”
The problem with Y is that when I ask her for suggestions she never gives me a straight answer. This is helpful sometimes, because her attitude allows me to search for deeper meanings about the subject. But after an hour of carrying on this style of conversation it gets a little nauseating.
I think my utter distaste for cynicism stems from a belief that it’s a very safe position to take. Cynics don’t need to reveal their position, so they are naturally exempted from risking their dignity.
That doesn’t mean that reservation is wrong. I have no intention of blaming people who refuse to make a choice. Our lives are too full of stressful moments and complicated issues to pay attention to everything we encounter. It’s our choice to be indifferent about certain things in life. It’s okay to be critical or ambivalent.
But if people choose not to take a stand, then they probably shouldn’t have the right to be critical of others who make the effort.
Having said all this, I almost feel sympathetic toward cynics.
I think the biggest motive for people to become cynical is fear, a fear of being disappointed again. Cynics are idealists at heart. They are tired of resenting themselves for things that are caused by their own naivete. They’ve been fooled too often; they’ve tasted too much wasabi hidden under their fish.
The critical thing about it is that people who are cynical often tend to be bright individuals who are full of charm and a great sense of humor. But while they charm others, cynics should perhaps know that life isn’t going to go anywhere if they don’t make up their mind fast.


How to Cook

Wasabi gimbap

Ingredients : 100 grams steamed rice, 2 sheets of gim (dried seaweed), 1/2 teaspoon of wasabi, sesame seeds
1. Place gim on a rice roller.
2. Spread steamed rice on the gim.
3. Spread wasabi on the rice.
4. Roll the rice.
5. Cut rolls into bite-size segments. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Serves two.


by Park Soo-mee
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