Don’t overdo the empathy
If I’m critical of the young, people say, “You’re getting old,” and “Times have changed.” Some may argue that everyone has a different threshold of pain and suffering. But I am not convinced that only the young are struggling, and they also ridicule the older generation politically. They praised the idea of sending the elderly to a hot springs resort on the day of the election to prevent them from voting. After the general election, they joked, “We may have to get rid of the heater at our parents’ house.” They claim to be the victim, but at the same time, they want to monopolize political correctness. Many middle-aged and old Koreans are resistant.
Among some young mothers, “empathy” is in fashion. The idea came from American parenting researcher Dr. John Gottman, who advocates the “emotion coaching” method. When parents understand and empathize with the emotions of the child, he will develop better social skills and thrive academically and physically. This is a proven method of child rearing, but the problem is the parents who are trying to empathize willy-nilly. When a child hits a friend, a parent says, “You must have been feeling upset.” When the child doesn’t want to go to kindergarten, the parent says, “You must be tired.” Some parents overuse it.
Perhaps another form of empathy is spreading in Korean society. While people claim to be victims, those willing to take responsibility are considered “has-beens.” When it comes to school violence, parents are worried that their children may become victims and completely rule out the possibility that their children may be the offenders. Politicians are trying to please the voters by sending empathetic messages without substantial plans.
Comforting them with fancy words, as if we can live for them, is a fraud. Some 30 years later, they’ll still be saying the same things.
*The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Noh Jae-hyun