The detriment of ‘going Dutch’“Why do men have one guy pick up the check?” asked my wife when she saw my credit card bill. She said they divide the check between everyone when she eats out with friends. She couldn’t understand my spending on drinking and laughed at my logic of “manly friendship and the order of things.” While I didn’t agree with her argument that friendship among women is stronger and more reasonable, I couldn’t argue with her first point.
We have this conversation several times a year, but this time it reminded me of the “Kim Young-ran Act.” Kim Young-ran, the former chairwoman of the Anticorruption and Civil Rights Commission, conceived the act that was passed in the National Assembly three weeks ago.
She came up with some impressive ideas about cracking down on corruption, the variables of which can be simplified in an “x, y, z” formula: positive change is possible when we overcome the psychology of wanting freebies (X) and eliminate the possibility of corruption by “going Dutch” at work (Y) in order to create law and culture with collective intelligence (Z).
My friends have different responses to these propositions. Some pointed out that such change is unrealistic and impossible, while others are hopeful for more transparency in the future. I am not confident that I can embrace the act as I am not comfortable splitting a check, even with friends. It is the desire of not wanting to be seen as a cheapskate, not harming anyone and wishing to be considered an intellectual.
The only thing that confused individuals like myself can rely on is “collective intelligence.”
I’ve learned that this term originated from ants nests. More than a century ago, U.S. entomologist William Morton Wheeler observed the ants creating an expansive nest. While each act is trivial, as a group, they establish advanced, intelligent system and build a nest. The scientific ventilation system of keeping a certain temperature and the solid structure by combining saliva and excretion impresses even modern architects. The work of ants is the mystery of mother earth.
Let’s compare ourselves to ants as we modify the act using our collective intelligence. In the extra session of the National Assembly next month, the ants will start working diligently. The members of the assembly, the civil servants, citizens and the media have lots to do. But can people with different opinions and ideas display collective intelligence to share their blueprints and embrace the pros and cons? And to address the question as grand as nature’s mystery: will I be able to follow my wife’s advice?
*The author is a deputy political news editor at JTBC. JoongAng Ilbo, March 20, Page 30
by KIM SEUNG-HYEON