2020 Protests

To believe in nonviolence does not mean that violence will not be inflicted upon you. The believer in nonviolence is the person who will willingly allow himself to be the victim of violence but will never inflict violence upon another. He lives by the conviction that through his suffering and cross bearing, the social situation may be redeemed.”

MLK JR

My heart goes out to suffering African-American people. I want to support as best as I can, however limited I am. To disseminate the kind of helpful information that will propel the movement forward might be one thing I can help with. One thing that has helped me the most gain perspective is to go back to history so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past but rather learn from the greats who achieved justice in the past.

One heated debate lately is around looting and violence. My belief is that the seed of violence used to achieve a certain goal reflects itself in the results that come out of it, perhaps not right away but eventually and surely slowly eroding the culture of the people engaged in it. The means used to achieve an end have a direct impact on the end itself, per Gandhi many years ago. Justice achieved through violence have a tendency to fall back to injustice through violence that proceeds it.

What makes the matter even more complicated is that most looters may not actually be passionately involved with BLM at all. There seem to be subgroups of people who, disguised as BLM protesters, are seriously looting stores down in Soho for their own profit, and then when people question their behavior, they lash back out to the questioners and call them “racists.” There needs to be much more clarity around who’s actually causing the looting because it’s a whole another debate if it’s a symbolic gesture from BLM leaders to target only racist businesses or slaver statues and etc. (rightful targets.) Or if it’s really just people, not caring about BLM at all, causing chaos.

When people say I should be caring more about black lives than property damage, I care about both: black lives and destruction in neighborhoods. Small property damage itself is not what I’m concerned about. But the unintended consequences to BLM from looting are far more important than minimal property damage. It carries so many negative consequences. Votes, for one. Votes that we need to create actual change with.

I’ve learned a lot and changed my positions on various things over the past few weeks of protests. But when it comes to looting, even George Floyd’s family condemns the looters saying the family is a God-fearing family that will never condone the looters.

When people jump to it saying that “we don’t get to judge how African-American grieve over Floyd” or “we should just be listening,” we are not actively engaged in bringing justice and fighting injustice. We should be more actively engaged in bringing justice while actually fighting the forces and behaviors that will amplify injustice or slow down justice. Looting will slow down justice and keep protests off-focus. “We will disobey the law unless you give us what we want.” is short-term thinking at best when there’s so many other tools and actions in our disposal. It’s a mild form of “the end justifies the means.” That path may hold very bad less obvious consequences down the line, that we might not be able to realize right away. Most importantly, we haven’t exhausted all options before going down that path. With civil war comes more innocent deaths and a cycle of vengeance and hatred. It doesn’t have to come to that.

Per Dr. King’s autobiography, he was inspired by Gandhi who mobilized the highest number of people in the history of mankind at 230 million to fight for independence of India. He told us a good seed bears a good tree. A good tree cannot come from a bad seed. Therefore, when violence and rage are used to incite looting and riots to fight oppressors, the same kind of violence and rage will continue to ensue even after the fighting has stopped, destroying future moral code for younger generations.

I believe in the way of truth that is modeling Jesus, Gandhi, MLK. Jr. They knew the incredible longevity and perseverance of nonviolent resistance that garners public unity slowly but surely. What most young people seem to be confused about is how to choose whom to follow. Whether they will follow the charismatic “rage” types who are screaming from the top of their lungs condoning violence and arousing everyone emotionally. Or if they will listen to the words of truth and love that Jesus, Gandhi and Dr. King taught, being able to think about the long-term consequences of the means of protest. I pray that God will show us the answer.

Mandela’s absolute determination to keep moving forward on a peaceful path, in the face of intolerable provocations, rather than resort to revenge or violence, was unheard of at the time. I recall two USA diplomats commenting that if the multi-party negotiation process succeeded, it would be a world first.There’s no doubt in my mind, it was Mandela’s unique and leading role in seeking a peaceful and negotiated constitutional settlement that prevented the country slipping into civil war.

https://www.peacedirect.org/us/nelson-mandelas-choice-of-a-peaceful-path/

Dear Earth’s Environment

In 50 years or so (I’m guessing I won’t be alive), many children of that era may never know the taste of fresh fish or seafood. Who knows what other things will go extinct or inedible by then.

It’s not just song birds that will go extinct, I assume. The future generations will never get to hear some sounds that existed in nature. It’s being able to see those birds, hear those birds, knows them at all. Being able to just experience seeing a fish. Seeing a whale. Tasting a fresh healthy fish. Things we taste, see, hear and smell in modern life in 2020 may never exist by 2070. We really do take things for granted. We are almost depriving the experiences of future children by prioritizing our own experiences first. We’ve been doing things with no consideration of consequences for the future.

Having been a meat eater and an all-around omnivore my entire life, I never really understood the environmental impact of meat, seafood, dairy and etc. until recently. Everything came to us so easily, happily and innocuously packaged under some cheerful branding or attractive logos or another. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, it’s impossible to conceal the truth. They say ignorance is bliss. In this case, it really isn’t. We are killing the planet. Out of pure greed for “taste,” really.

It’s really the human taste bud and appetite for meat, the demand, that we must control, nothing more. As long as there is demand and a desire for meat, people will keep eating it regardless of environmental impact. It’s extremely difficult to reverse a person’s appetite or cultural affinity toward one type of food or another, I imagine. But I believe our love and dedication to protection of nature must outweigh the desire for our tongue/brain to taste something. It must. Otherwise, this immediate primal desire keeps overriding our long-term potential for survival and hurting the very house we live in.

That’s the epitome of what makes humans different from animals, after all. If we keep indulging in the desires of our primal brains, that love to engage in sensory pleasures in sight, taste, touch, smell and sound, what makes us different from other animals? Animals are already doing that, driven by lust, survival instinct and reptilian instincts. But as long as we exercise our advanced human brain to set aside our immediate desires to eat or taste meat … or indulge in this luxury or that luxury … we can exercise control + self-restraint to protect the things that really matter to us.

Suffering and sacrifice. It’s foreign words to many people. But there’s no other way. As long as the human society at large is manipulated by desires, there’s no hope. Quelling desires, keeping them under our control. That’s the goal. It’s possible, and many have already shown us that.

Just like our parents took care of us when we were little and vulnerable, and forgave us for all our mistakes and trouble-making as babies and children. It’s time for the adults of today to forgive the transgressions of past generations and to do the right work (for the environment) by ourselves.

I imagine we are all living under one roof, this house called the Earth. There’s all kinds of families living under this same roof. Yeah, we compete against each other and fight all the time like a dysfunctional family, but one thing we can’t deny is that we are all living in this one house. We better take care of it, otherwise this whole thing collapses, and we can’t live anymore. So it helps to take care of the oceans, our backyard, take care of the garbage, making sure all the rooms are clean. We can’t bring the house down just to fill our tummies and please our tongues.

Human beings were supposed to be the kind, wise kings and queens of everything on land and sea, everything in nature. We were supposed to supervise, respect the circle of life, and make sure everything runs smoothly, like Mufassa does on The Lion King. In one way or another, well in many ways to be honest, we became unfit to rule.

If we don’t want future children to not hate us any more than they already will, we better start doing some stuff now to atone for the sins of our ancestors and ourselves.

I’m sure we can do it. Inshallah.

주님이 원하시는 것

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.