The end of the semester is finally within view, though for many including myself, the burden has yet to lessen and the worst yet to come. A tumultuous period indeed, during the last couple of weeks, the Undergraduate Student Council election had been under debate for numerous reasons (as outlined on page 1). Because most of the debating took place on online media forums, the strength and weakness of these forums were highlighted: while some were able to express their views and opinions with formal arguments with logical reasoning, others only provided malicious slander and uneducated guesses. In retrospect, this could be seen as an improvement in political engagement, a step up from political disenchantment. However, it seems that the manners in political engagement requires a reconstruction of sort.
As a democratic society, we are entitled the freedom of speech. However, it is not uncommon to see this right abused. In our exercise of this freedom, we forget to make the moral judgment of whether what we say is right or wrong. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” Our mouths tingle with insults and outrage at comments that in our heads we deem ridiculous, but let us not forget that to someone else, those same arguments are legitimate and their freedom of expression. And if we do indeed say something whose context is open to misinterpretation and trigger controversy, we should take responsibility for what was said. Yes, once the water is spilt, it cannot be recollected again, but the mess can be cleaned up.
Well-educated and profound in thought, KAIST students debate upon controversial issues because we each have a structural argument in our minds. That is the perfectly ideal phenomenon, as a competition of ideas promotes better solutions. But let us not taint our intellectual thoughts and reflections by using crude and uncivilized means of expression. A utilization of our rights to speech in a more meaningful manner would not only get across the same ideas more effectively but also enhance the process of finding solutions.
Moreover, whenever such issues arise, we look to the upper officials to step forward and take action. Our generation lives in a fast-paced society and thus, is an impatient one. Whenever an issue, crisis, or problem arises, as if observing a table tennis match, our heads immediate snap expectantly towards the government as if to say, “Government, your turn.” Of course, government inactivity is unforgivable, but at the same time, some time is required to analyze the situation to consider possible solutions and its consequences prior to taking action; else, it may lead to rash undoable consequences. Though guarantees cannot be made, perhaps an exercise of patience would improve the quality of the outcome – giving them a chance first seems to be the chronological order of events.
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