“Listening can heal people... Community is a group that listens to each other” (Han Byeong-cheol says in his book “Exile of others”)
For the first time in human history, a minister of loneliness was appointed in the U.K. in January 2018. It was along with the statistics that showed more than nine million British citizens suffered from loneliness and it was as harmful as spoking 15 cigarettes a day. A survey on loneliness was conducted in Korea the same year. Surprisingly, in the survey conducted by Hankook Research, 26 percent of the respondents said they felt loneliness always or often.
What exactly is loneliness? German-born American philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) defined it as a condition where someone lost his self, where he doesn’t know who he is and doesn’t have a friend to tell him who he is. The definition is clear, but it does not explain the whole aspects of loneliness that we feel today. Then I read an article of Han Byeong-cheol and thought, “May be loneliness comes from a situation where there is no one who listens to me.”
All types of pains are personalized in the individualized world. Each individual has to bear their own pain in the world where meritocracy is the norm. We expel others from our own world, inscribing in our mind a norm that we take responsibilities for our own life. We, living in the busiest era in history, have no time to listen to others. The best virtue of other people in this world is not talking about their pain to me.
Unsaid pain becomes loneliness when it is built up, and the pain in us makes us ill. That is why having someone who listens to me in this world is itself a good fortune. We heal when someone else listens to us. If a community is a group that shares pain, it is “a group that listens” as Han said.