The Successful Affliction

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People often associate the term “success” with other words like, “innovation” and “progress”. Each word, nevertheless, is distinct from one another, as it has its own meaning which can be used in various contexts. The term “success” is ambiguous and uncertain; we think we know what it means, but it can mean something completely different depending on the person. “Success” is an ultimate destination that everyone wants to get to, yet they seem to be lost in their own path unable to reach the final point. What does the word “success” even mean? If it indicates humans exploiting and wasting unlimited resources to “move forward”, it is safe to say that we have all been “successful”. It is crucial for us to realize that one idea cannot solely exist on its own.

A tragedy always lies beneath the notion of “success” – the two concepts are, in fact, inseparable. Living in the technological era, we rely on electrical appliances like refrigerators, laundry machines, computers, and television, that generate heat, which contributes to global warming. To reduce the effects of global warming, and to achieve better sustainability and efficiency, people have come up with an innovative engineering solution of “photovoltaic” technology. Through the invention of the photovoltaic technology, the goal is to convert sunlight directly into electricity. Due to its ability to prevent further issues of global warming, people call it the “perfect cure” and “successful remedial treatment”. This technology is viewed as “successful” until we find out that the investment cost is extremely high and it requires a vast amount of storage batteries, which are very harmful to the environment. Because we disregard the negative aspects and catastrophic consequences, they become invisible under the idea of “success”.

It is important for us to ask ourselves the following fundamental questions: if we are constantly causing catastrophe in the process of “moving forward” and “creating success”, what is the purpose of technical development? Why do we continuously push forward at a rapid pace? The bitter irony of our obsession with “moving forward” is that it actually forces us to move backwards, as “moving forward” indicates destroying and exploiting our limited resources. Because of our burning desire to be “successful”, we have developed an illusion that there are unlimited amount of supplies or that technology will be our solution to every problem. We must recognize that within the concept of “success”, there rises the concept of catastrophe.

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