A Lightening Moment of Enlightment


We all have a very sudden moment of enlightenment in our daily lives.  To others, it might be a negligible thing.  But to oneself, it’s the moment when everything makes sense to you, out of blue, and then you are bummed because you realized the hints of truth was all over the place, so visible, yet you have not noticed any of it.

I had that moment about 2-3 weeks ago.  It was really nothing.  As always, I was walking down the street to my evening postwork Yoga class. I had no thoughts at all – just mindlessly doing my every day routine.  Without any thoughts, I looked around.  Since my office is located in college town, you see a lot of screens, flyers and placards all over the place.  Apparently the sides of street was full of signs opposing the recent increase of student tuition – “Yo President, we gotta meet right now!” “Even the government is asking to not to raise tuition,” “Where does our money go? To our president’s investment game?” Okay, these are rough translations from Korean to English, but in Korean it sounded meaner and more emotional; a lot of them were parodying popular song lyrics or adopted slang, written in non-honorifics.

All of sudden, it made so much sense why many Koreans cannot have a decent discussion on anything – including figuring out a solution.  Everything on the signboard was “tuition down, or nothing.” Yeah, black or white, nothing else.  We are right and you are wrong.

So the tuition is putting a lot of burden on students and it is continuously rising.  Can the student body and school government can talk and sort this out? I think this kind of issue can be settled rather peacefully with much dialogue.  Our-way-or-death really doesn’t make any party happy.  But, then, I realized another thing: No one was asking what’s the reason of continuous increase of tuition.  Likewise, the school government was giving their students no explanation or communication channel.  To be fair, maybe I am a bit biased on these matters because I grew up in a fairly conservative environment, and American culture where open communication is highly encouraged.  While looking at those signs and placards, I was uncomfortable.  It’s good to make funny, catchy phrases.  I like some politically incorrect humors, too.  But that does not mean you can be mean, nor okay to post up mean stuff in public places.  I don’t think it helps the situation, except letting people know that you are not happy with the situation.

In States, going emotional and showing it to public is often considered as immature.  At least that’s how I remember it.  What if there is a same issue rising in States or Japan?  I bet both party would agree to open a discussion or information seminar before posting up the angry placards.  Or do the placards and talking simultaneously.  Anger is the very last part of flowchart.  Here, anger is the beginning of flowchart.

I am not saying Japanese/Americans are better than Koreans.  I am just saying that for that short moment – where I saw the signs and realized how everything is connected starting from that signboards – something sparked and I understood why Koreans are so bad at open communication.  It made much more sense to me than before.  These people are not brought up in that way.  From the home, many children are scolded when they express their opinion, or ask questions.  Now they go on to elementary school.  You are not allowed to ask questions to teachers – well, technically you can, but more than half of teachers will probably scold the students, saying they are not being quiet.  That pretty much continues all the way to high school.   The obedience to parents is now mixed with teacher-authority: the students just memorize what they are told to memorize, take exam, do well on it, and back to the square one.  In college, the kids have a bit more freedom.  But they are not trained in how to effectively set up their opinion or even compromise their stance.  They think just spreading your voice and pump the volume up as much as possible is the meaning of “discussion.”  All they know is that they have to win.  They were born and nurtured in it for 20 years.  If you are not with me, you are wrong.  If you are not with the mainstream, you have to be fixed.

It made sense to me. Well I hope this posting made sense to the readers (though I think I failed on it…).


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