주님이 원하시는 것

창조자의 큰 뜻. 내가 너무 무지하고 작아서 헤아리지 못하겠다.

인간은 생존과 번식의 도구가 아니다. 생존과 번식만을 생각하는 사람들은 바로 동물과 똑같은 이치로 살아가고 있는 인간들이다. 천지의 생물등중에 으뜸으로 군림하는 인간이 어떻게 동물과 99% 똑같이 살아가고 있는 것인가? 그것은 우리들의 한계일까?

주님의 뜻을 이해하는 것은 혼란스럽기만 하다.

Healing Period

I’m taking this quarantine time to take a breath from all the busy-ness of life. I think it’s been a good opportunity to reset a little bit. When you are caught up in the machinery of every day life, it’s easy to get swept up in that momentum and spend the days without thinking or retrospective.

Nobody can say this pandemic is a “good thing.” But if I believe in the words of ancient sages, it’s the concept of “Se Wong Ji Ma.” There’s no good or bad in this world but thinking makes it so. When something like this happens, or events that give you feelings of rejection, pain, suffering, loss, etc … it’s easy to be flustered, frustrated and feel bad all the time. But from the ancient Chinese story of “old man who lost his horse” … it becomes easier for us to gain perspective. That even the events that happen to us that seem like the worst things that could have happened to us … as long as we stay composed and calm … may have a way of working out or even working its way out in our favor … in the long-term. How that will take shape in this pandemic incident is mysterious to me, and perhaps will take much more time for us to gain perspective into God’s bigger plan. But I do believe in that. All that’s gone wrong during this pandemic … God will make it alright. There must be a reason for this.

Here’s the ancient story of “Old Man who lose his horse” in case you are interested.

There once was a village that had among its people a very wise old man. The villagers trusted this man to provide them answers to their questions and concerns. One day, a farmer from the village went to the wise man and said in a frantic tone, “Wise man, help me. A horrible thing has happened. My ox has died and I have no animal to help me plow my field! Isn’t this the worst thing that could have possibly happened?” The wise man replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.” The man hurried back to the village and reported to his neighbors that the wise man had gone mad. Surely this was the worse thing that could have happened. Why couldn’t he see this?

The very next day, however, a strong, young horse was seen near the man’s farm. Because the man had no ox to rely on, he had the idea to catch the horse to replace the ox and he did. How joyful the farmer was. Plowing the field had never been easier. He went back to the wise man to apologize. “You were right, wise man. Losing my ox wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. It was a blessing in disguise! I never would have captured my new horse had that not happened.” The wise man replied once again, “Maybe so, maybe not.” Not again, thought the farmer. Surely the wise man had gone mad now.

But, once again, the farmer did not know what was to happen. A few days later the farmer’s son was riding the horse and was thrown off. He broke his leg and would not be able to help with the crop. Oh no, thought the man. Now we will starve to death. Once again, the farmer went to the wise man. This time he said, “How did you know that capturing my horse was not a good thing? You were right again. My son is injured and won’t be able to help with the crop. This time I’m sure that this is the worst thing that could have possibly happened. You must agree this time.” But, just as he had done before, the wise man calmly looked at the farmer and in a compassionate tone replied once again, “Maybe so. Maybe not.” Enraged that the wise man could be so ignorant, the farmer stormed back to the village.

The very next day, troops arrived to take every able-bodied man to the war that had just broken out. The farmer’s son was the only young man in the village who didn’t have to go. He would live, while the others would surely die.

The moral of this story provides a powerful lesson. The truth is we don’t know what’s gong to happen — we just think we do. Often we make a big deal out of something. We blow up scenarios in our minds about all the terrible things that are going to happen. Most of the time we are wrong. If we keep our cool and stay open to possibilities we can be reasonably certain that, eventually, all will be well. Remember: maybe so, maybe not.

God gave us dominion over land animals, sea animals and birds …

I don’t think we are doing a good job as humans ruling over other animals, birds, fishes and plants. We were supposed to be made in God’s image living with those animals and keeping order and balance among land animals, sea animals and birds alike, as a king of the hierarchy. I don’t think we were ever supposed to abuse our power and treat them however we wish, like we are doing now. It’s coming to bite us soon enough.

Today we are overfishing, overeating, overproducing meat and driving everything to extinction … because we’ve been greedy, insatiable and gluttonous, not able to limit or restrain our appetite for meat, fish and other blessings that God gave us. To be honest, I myself don’t exactly like the “ethical” argument from vegans … that there’s something “inherently immoral or unethical” about eating meat. For thousands of years or even more than that, the human kind had to evolve and adapt to eat whatever we could find to survive. Whether it’s hunting for meat or scavenging, we had to do whatever we could. And without the knowledge of agriculture and farming, there was no way we could even disturb the planet’s ecosystem at the rate we are today. But ever since we started to mass-produce things … that’s when it started affecting everything on a mass scale. Human greed can be infinite and timeless if we let it. However, the resources of the planet and the ocean are finite.

So I think that’s what it comes down to. If we were doing a terrific job maintaining the planet, there’s no reason why many of us ever has to give up eating this or that. But because our limitless appetite for certain things has gone out-of-control, that’s why the planet and other species are suffering. And as rulers made in God’s image, we were never supposed to put other species in suffering in order to satisfy our own selfish desires (taste mainly, and fancy, satisfying dinners). If it’s for daily survival, perhaps, it’s understandable. Other than that, it’s a total luxury that we are not supposed to indulge in daily. Otherwise, the planet cannot support our lifestyle in scale.

I really think there’s no moral code that God gave us when it comes to eating meat or fish. However, God did give us the responsibility to rule over them, and that means being a good parent and shepherd for those species, not a slave-slaveowner kind of relationship where we drive everything to extinction. That’s like an employer who abuses their employees to the point where the employee dies from exhaustion or quits, and ultimately creates an empty office. Or a farmer that mistreats its animals, and all the cows and sheep dying.

The young people of current and next generation are much more aware than the past. I believe that those people, like Greta Thunberg has already done, will take up this mission and be passionate about defending the environment. I wonder if they will forgive the previous generations (including myself) for being so negligible about all this. In order to atone for my own sins and the sins of the previous generations, I feel responsible to make sacrifices as well.

P.S.

I want more green plants in my room. They really brighten up any room with their energy. I feel like they are alive. Talking to me. And they love it when we sing to them apparently. Even my horrible Smule karaoke singing.

スレイヤーズ大好き

もっと強くイメージして
微笑んでる自分を…
信じてる思い、それが
何よりも 誰よりも 夢に近づく

ゴールにもたれたりしない
たとえ、辿り着いたって
新しい夢がきっと 私の背中押すから
走り続ける
誰にも止められはしない
未来の自分へと 

きっとどこかに「答」ある
生まれてきた答が
人は皆、それを求め
やるせない のがせない 夢に向かうの

傷つく事は恐くない
だけどけして強くない
ただ、何もしないままで
悔やんだりはしたくない
走り続ける
誰にも止められはしない

Source: https://animesongz.com/lyric/1151/10261

창의적인 사람

무언가를 찾아내고 발견해나가는 자기자신의 호기심과 소망이 없으면 인생은 언제나 똑같은 틀안에서 살아가게 된다. 내가 새로운 것을 시도하고 새로운 일들을 배우고 새로운 책들을 읽는게 중요하다. 지금 당장 코앞만 생각하면 절대로 원하는 창조적인 일이나 아이디어의 발굴을 해나갈수 없다. 오늘부터 더 내 자신의 장래성을 믿어보려고 한다. 창의성. 새로운 것은 가만히 있는다고 생겨나는 것이 아니라 매일 도전하는 사람들의 두뇌에서 생겨난다. 너무 틀안에서 만족해서는 안된다.

The brain is like a sponge, especially with pictures and images. It speaks directly to us. It absorbs and remixes in its own head. It’s easy to consume and see pictures. It’s another thing to make and create pictures. In a way, movies and pictures are a gift that jumps from one brain to another.

The Battle for Clout

Social media is devouring the world, especially vulnerable teenagers desperate for gaining more clout (likes and followers). We may still be underestimating the harmful effects of social media apps on the young. Joe Rogan had a great YouTube episode with a professor who showed a direct correlation in the steep rise of self-harm and depression/anxiety rates among teenage girls since the boom of social media (FB +Instagram) in 2011-2012, when kids started using iPhones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI6rX96oYnY.

The reason may be that social media has brought strangers and neighbors closer together than ever before. But that heightened visibility doesn’t always equate to making more friends or feeling closer to people. Oftentimes, it breeds envy and contempt. It’s allowing yourself to be open to all kinds of content from strangers and neighbors popping up your in face all the time. And what do most people want? Attention. Likes. Approval. Fame. Success. And in the pursuit of that, the Creators might have actually lost the “needs” of its audience in mind. I wish Creators were posting content that the people NEED … instead of just posting to get attention.

The line is blurring between what it means to be a passive “Viewer/Audience” of TV/Online Media versus an active “Creator” of content, due to the explosion of channels like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and more. Back in the day, it was only those who were well-connected and handpicked by network TV execs that “made” it into the public spotlight through the power of media broadcasting. With the advancement of technology, “broadcasting,” literally the ability to broadly transmit your message, is becoming easier at an exponential rate. This is good news for some; not at all good news for others. With the power to be seen in front of thousands of people comes responsibility. The kind of responsibility rarely taught in schools or understood at all, because even adults often don’t grasp the neurological influence that visual media can have on you.

Take TikTok’s success as an example. I don’t just think of it as a fun app as they are marketing it to be. Isn’t it amazing how they are now everywhere in mainstream conversations with American teenagers? How were they so good at creating hype and gaining attention around its own creators? Perhaps the engineers designing its algorithms so that the videos that get the longest views and the highest number of views (addictive, provocative content) will get shown in front of people the most, to keep people coming back to TikTok everyday? Many teenagers, especially girls, are creating the kind of content that’s being exposed to people all over the world and actually suffering from hate comments, stalkers and more. Is that “good?” Is “TikTok Famous” a “good thing?”

In ancient East-Asian philosophy, there’s a saying that goes “a young kid who succeeds early will not die a good death.” It was known that when an extremely young person gains a prominent position in society (or perhaps in the “kingdom” at the time), that it’s very easy for them to become a target of hate, envy and detriment which derails their career later on. They end up creating enemies, making mistakes and stop growing, not fully grasping the preciousness of their success. Early success or becoming TikTok famous as a young person are seen as virtues here in the U.S, South Korea, and many other countries. There’s a problem there. Again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but the “definition of success” is being skewed because of these apps like TikTok.

I don’t think they had evil intentions in mind, whether it was Instagram, Facebook or TikTok. They were most of all engineers and tech entrepreneurs who made these apps. It’s not the fault of the “Technology Creators” that have made this possible. They are the last people who could have predicted that “bringing the world closer together” (FB’s mission) would not always be a good thing.

But the rules. The RULES and ETHICS of Responsible Media Sharing have to be rewritten and reenforced, even on social media. If you want to create on broadcasting platforms, every creator should know the responsibility to create the kind of content that people NEED … and will impact people in positive ways. And tech companies should not reward people for making addictive or shocking content just for the sake of gaining more attention or hype around it.

Because the content you share have an impact on the people around you. That’s not just for you to play with. To make yourself into a star. It means neurological impact for your audience. State of well-being. Self-talk. So We must provide the kind of story, narrative and visuals, that will improve people. Regardless of the number of likes and followers you gain from it.

Ethnic Identity is your Special Fusion

People say weird things to you when you are an Asian-American. One thing I realize is that for many Korean people, I will never be a true Korean to them. And for many American people, I will never seem a true American to them. Many times in life, people have put me in a ‘box’ which made me question myself: ‘What am I?’

I’ve spent life in the States for the past 20 years. It still hasn’t made me fully American though. I never forget my Korean side. I appreciate my Korean side. Whenever people mention my Korean-ness, it’s a source of pride. Same with my American-ness. When I go to South Korea, I often stand out based on my open-mindedness, frankness and the American-ness engrained in me now. I appreciate my American upbringing as much as I appreciate my Korean upbringing. I’ve had more American mentors of multiple ethnicities than Korean mentors in my life.

The problem is, there’s many “pure” Korean people who don’t seem to get along with me very well. Granted their life arc is very different from me, based on military service, having spent their entire life in Korea and having problems confidently speaking English and so forth. I must rub them the wrong way, or maybe they have trouble relating to me. In the beginning, I felt hurt because they wouldn’t always consider me their own. Eventually I realized something. I don’t have to belong to them to be happy with myself.

On the bright side, There are Koreans who appreciate me. Not all Koreans are close-minded against Korean-Americans. For those people, I’m a unique, special blend. They don’t relate to me just because I’m Korean but because I can offer them a new possibility. By being true to me. Not having to be somebody else. It goes to show that you cannot please all people all the time. Some of the people will accept you all the time for no reason. All the people will accept you at some of the times for no particular reason. But you cannot make all the people accept you all the time.

In a way, many Korean-Americans and Asian-Americans are operating on a scale system, not a binary system. You are not just completely American or completely Korean. Oftentimes, you are an amalgamation of both to a varying degree. You might have spent 1o years of your life in Korea and then 20 years of your life in Connecticut, North Carolina and New York. So Are you Korean now? Are you a New Yorker now? I don’t know. I would say mathematically speaking, 34% Korean, 66% American. In that manner, we retain a piece of the environment around us wherever we grew up in. I know Koreans who spent most of their childhood growing up in Germany, India, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, France or the Philippines. It doesn’t make them any less lovable or less respectable. They have their own valuable identity, which is separate from the pure Korean identity. And yet, we share that commonality, as the ‘in-betweeners’ which is also important. That alone is a unique identity in its own way. Being a precious hybrid.

For those of you who might be suffering from identity issues, believe me, it’s not an easy puzzle to solve. Especially if you are half-Asian or multi-racial, I can only imagine how much tougher it is for the outside world to consider you one way and then your internal world trying to express another. In a really funny way, I suffered from color discrimination from my own people based on my unusually dark skin tone growing up in South Korea. I was made fun of, along with my mom and sister growing up.

At the end of the day, the path I believe is “self-acceptance.” Not all Koreans will accept me, and that’s okay. Not all Americans will accept me, and that’s okay. But that doesn’t make you a watered down version of a Korean or a watered down version of an American. I am both of those identities and none of those things. Some people understand this better than anybody, especially those in America who call themselves ‘mutts,’ whose identity is so mixed from several generations of ethnic intermixing. Some people just like to disregard issues surrounding race and ethnicity altogether because it’s much easier to live that way in America.

I’ve recently been reading Professor Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu’s Book “When Half is Whole” which is an amazing read written by a leading scholar on the subject of identity. It’s been one of the best recent books I’ve discovered. He mentions that the 3 steps to living with your multi-ethnic identity is 1) Knowing and feeling different from those around you often in a negative way + 2) Struggle to belong, social pressure to conform and loneliness + 3) ultimate self-acceptance through self-definition of your own identity.

The ‘tweeners are a weird, special bunch. I truly believe that.

In marine biology, there’s a term called “Biodiversity.” Researchers say the most diverse, creative forms of marine life can be seen at the point where two completely different types of ocean currents collide. In that way, multiethnic individuals are like the meeting point where those two ocean currents collide. Throughout history, it is those multiethnic individuals who have given us amazing innovation and creativity only possible through cultural fusion. Jewish-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Indian-Americans, Asian-Americans just to name a few.

We can think different from those of our origins who are set in their ways. What will you choose to create with your own fusion? The world is your oyster.

“Territory” Battle of Comedy and Audience Attention

In a way, I think many people including myself have been doing the “comedy” game in the wrong way.

Sure, stand-up comedy is an amazing art form and has been around for decades. But in a world where everyone is fighting for attention to further their agenda, sometimes I think stand-up comedy itself is becoming another noise. Just like barkers in Times Square who come across as super annoying.

Whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or even live comedy like stand-up, sketches and improv, we’ve always been kinda fighting against each other for attention in the name of entertainment. “Hey I can make you laugh! I can entertain you! Come watch us!” And sometimes for a nominal fee, there’s a fair exchange of money and entertainment. And hence the entertainment industry. And there’s fierce competition on all sides. Comics are not just competing against other stand-up comics but all kinds of entertainment out there. In certain cases, the Medium itself becomes more important than your talent level at any one comedic craft. For example, there’s talented veterans in the stand-up community who lack any audience on Instagram or YouTube. But if you are the kind of person who can hack a popular app, such as recent stars on TikTok, then you’ve just surpassed in popularity and influence more than anybody else.

Granted, a TikTok star never has any ambitions of competing against old stand-up comedians. But in a way, we all are fighting for attention. A teenager who becomes a fierce fan of a TikTok star will probably not switch to suddenly learning about stand-up comedy and following comedians.

So here’s my conclusion. You cannot afford to be pigeon-holed into one form or another. A comic should realize when he or she is turning into a one-trick pony. Even in history, there’s been performers and comics who engage in a rather antiquated form of comedy. The danger is not being able to evolve with changing audience tastes and gain new audiences. There are people out there and ways to reach those people. You have to create a new flavor there. Something different. A unique value proposition and positioning. And you can’t just be different in a small way. You have to create something that people so desperately want … that a small, janky version of that comedy made by an unknown commodity like you can create a popular reaction that serves a large group of people. It’s no different than opening up a business and having a MVP.

In a way, I’ve always wanted “mainstream” success. But how can I fit into that? That’s crazy. I wrote a little bit about Lilly Singh’s show yesterday and me trying to fit into the “mainstream” entertainment may be similar in concept to what’s happening there. I’ve never been the “mainstream” guy so why should I all of a sudden act proper, PC and do traditional kind of American humor? I am not a traditional American, traditional Korean, nor am I a traditional “anything.” Instead, there’s value in freedom and breaking the mold.

“Think Different.” Isn’t that what Steve Jobs and Apple used to say?

Feelings on Late-Night TV

When you google “Late night TV is” into the search bar, the top 2 auto-complete suggestions are “Late Night TV is dead” or “Late Night TV is dying.” Quite popular opinions circulating right now.

We need a new era of transformation in American late-night television (both SNL & talk-shows). Talk-shows especially should no longer be fixated on political monologues mocking Trump or inviting famous celebs for canned interviews because that’s just a horrible representation of America itself as a country with our diversity of interests and backgrounds. Why can’t we shine more light into real topics and people who are struggling to get more deserved attention? Why can’t we talk more about concerns of minority communities? Why can’t we talk more about international news or bring more international celebs? Why can’t we share deeper conversations on philosophy and religion?

Repetitive formats get old and predictable, and bore the audience. If these shows are designed to create laughter, then they have veered away from perhaps the most important element of laughter of them all — creating surprise. Unexpectedness. Unpredictability. If there’s anything I’ve learned from doing stand-up comedy for years is that a limited range of material is boring for the audience. Viewers crave novelty, stimulation, surprises. Different voices, different conversations, different moods. Heck, the viewers themselves are changing. The only thing NOT changing is the late night tv shows.

Having said all that nasty stuff about late-night TV, I have tremendous respect for all these hosts. My favorites are Conan and Trevor Noah.

There is something to say about SNL. According to what I’ve learned, when Lorne Michaels first launched SNL, it really was sensational, something that people had never seen before with amazing skit parodies of current events and pop culture references. SNL itself was considered satiric, groundbreaking and surprising at the time. Which is important to note. Now that audience tastes have evolved, the show formats must evolve with them. In a way, comedy is a moving target that leaves the obsolete behind. You must have your fingers on the pulse of audience psyche and know how to create “difference” from the mainstream so that it breaks the usual pattern. When SNL first came out, it WAS the new pattern, the new kid on the block. Now that SNL is the old dinosaur, there will be NEW patterns and NEW kids on the block that can take down the incumbent. There has to be. It’s a natural pattern throughout history. Even Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart were the new fresh kids on the block when they first started satirizing Republicans. Now, the scale is tipping to the other side.

As a millennial and a racial minority, I badly want to see somebody break that mold in late-night. Many of us are familiar with the traditional formula that has made late night TV successful for decades with stars like Carson, Letterman, Leno and Conan. But that formula itself is being challenged as archaic by a growing portion of the younger demographics in today’s world where people continue to veer away from traditional network TV to YouTube, Instagram and streaming for content. The game that late-night TV should play is to use its massive production scale, strong brand name, existing fanbase and talent pool to push for more original innovation and think outside of the box.

“Desus & Mero” on Showtime is a great example paving the way for the future. The hosts trade jokes with each other in a studio that feels like watching two friends talk about the latest topics. They casually exude authenticity and “real-ness” that today’s viewers are dying to see. It’s also refreshingly different. The references they make and the lingo they use are also spot-on with younger minority demographics, and their Bronx regional specificity gives them a strong niche. It’s a new platform for an under-represented demographic with comedic talent that the people like. People get something they’ve never had before, see things they’ve never seen before.

Another example of disruptive comedy is “The Eric Andre Show” on Adult Swim. That show is genius. He has literally made a career out of satirizing the traditional talk-show format, and the viewers love him dearly. Eric Andre showcases a new possibility that should not be ignored because he dared to change the talk-show game itself and succeeded. These guys came out not to swim in the same ocean as the other late-night shows, but to create their own blue oceans where nobody has gone before. There’s absolutely no competition there because people have never thought of it yet. And there is the prize. I wouldn’t be surprised if Eric Andre and Hannibal Buress spent agonizing amount of hours strategizing and planning absurdity to make “The Eric Andre Show” a success. It just looks funny, fun and crazy from the outside but it takes amazing dedication, courage and divergent intelligence from the right-brain to pull something off like that.

Eric Andre sleeping during his show. His job involves not working at his job.

“A Little Late with Lilly Singh” is a peculiar example (of innovation that has not been executed correctly) that’s been mind-boggling to me. I’ve been a fan of Lilly’s Superwoman days on YouTube because she’s so great at character sketches, impersonations and writing her own relevant and funny content for camera. And then NBC puts her into the same cookie-cutter late-night talk show format that EVERYONE should be avoiding. Monologue jokes. Exaggerated audience reactions. Celeb interviews. It’s like taking Michael Jordan out of the NBA and putting him into Croquet. Go play Croquet, Michael Jordan. Well, why? He was doing so talented in the NBA!

Lilly needs to write more sketches. She needs to be real for us again. She needs to have real conversations with Indian-Americans and Indian-Canadians. I saw a brief segment on her show that showcased her writers, which gave me a little bit of an insight into what might be going on over there. The group of writers looked a bit like intimidated young kids who were well-intentioned but lacked the imagination to shake up the status-quo. They were making jokes about white men, sexual innuendos, socks and etc. That’s not Lilly. What the hell? Was Lilly ever known for bashing white people on YouTube? No, I watched her because of her amazing Indian parents impressions.

But I think to succeed in today’s comedy, you must be more than just a stand-up. More than just another late-night host. More than just another funny guy who can do improv. More than just another guy who can do a tight set on stage. You must be strongly connected with the people of the real world and provide surprise and new perspective. That’s inherently UN-fakeable. The system is authentic.

In a way, there’s opportunity. As long as mainstream TV is unwilling to adapt, it leaves room for small players to act as “startups” and disrupt everything. Like David vs. Goliath.