[VIEWPOINT]Here’s a new risk: complete safety

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[VIEWPOINT]Here’s a new risk: complete safety

Iwent away for a vacation recently. The destination was the Dominican Republic, a four-hour flight south of New York.
I had wondered some time ago what the country was like while reading a magazine article in the New Yorker, which said American intellectuals were purchasing land there in a panic to make a cultural community.
By eagerly searching the Internet, I found a fairly desirable resort at a reasonable price. The place was a so-called “all-inclusive” resort. This type of resort, which included food as well as the room, has become quite popular these days.
Considering how stressful it is to spend money on this and that on a vacation, the all-inclusive package at the resort definitely appealed to me.
The resort was more wonderful than I expected. The resort, situated along the beach on a wide hillside, included a huge hotel ― or a small village. Its buildings and landscape were beautiful and the surroundings were clean. Despite the hot weather, the buildings were air-conditioned.
To avoid the possible monotony of a resort, various types of facilities were offered, from one-bedrooms to suite rooms, spar rooms, villa-type detached houses and four-bedroom villas.
In addition to a main restaurant that offered buffets for every meal, three other restaurants served meals from an a la carte menu. The food agreed with me, too. Swimming pools and drink bars were here and there and entertaining shows were performed every night in the theater, which was equipped with a bar. The alcohol and the show were all included in the price.
On top of that, the staff was unbelievably kind and faithful to their duties. My room was upgraded to a villa-type single house where I could overlook the ocean.
In front of the house, a security guard provided 24-hour surveillance. The same went for the beach.
A security guard came and went within a visible distance from where people swam at a deserted shore.
Everything was perfect to the point of being unfamiliar. We were always full and safe in that pleasant place.
A day before I returned to New York, I visited Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, for sightseeing.
I checked in a hotel and went into the street. Old buildings looked like they were about to collapse and the streets were squalid, with many poor people.
After looking around several alleys for a place to have lunch, I found a small restaurant recommended by a concierge. The restaurant was filled with the smell of food. When I entered the place feeling hungry, I felt a sense of liberation and a sense of moral liberation, at that.
Had I, then, been feeling guilty in that paradise-like resort?
It would be no overestimation to say that human history is the history of overcoming threats that mankind faces, such as hunger, colds, diseases, epidemics, natural disasters and wars.
Deborah Lupton, an Australian sociologist, said in her book “Risk” that the concept of risk has expanded from natural risks to include man-made risks.
In other words, she says we ourselves make and seek risks as we get away from dangers, such as hunger and disease.
The human body is sophisticated. If it is true that human beings have evolved, our bodies have found ways to deal with the threats surrounding us.
Therefore, we have such energy stored somewhere in our body. Perhaps, it was quite natural that I should feel guilty in a situation, completely devoid of uncertainty and risk, like a human being deprived of labor.
According to Lupton, we now use the word “risk” more frequently than ever, and its concept has become more elaborate. If we were faced with a hunger crisis, a threat like mercury accumulated in tuna would not be a threat at all.
The moment humans think they completely control their environment, as in an all-inclusive resort, new threats are bound to emerge from places we have never imagined.

* The writer is a painter. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Park Sang-mi
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