Don't Look Back
This week I turn 33, which I didn't think much about until my friend pointed out that it is my Jesus year. That, along with a recent message on Revolutionary Faith, made me think about what great things I could accomplish this year. I'm not going to be able to save the world from cancer or swine flu, I don't have the political savvy to charge into Sacramento or DC to bring about sweeping new legislation, and I don't have the funds to alleviate the amount of poverty and suffering that is present in South Bay. But I do have the ability to make a huge difference to two people who have meant the most to me for the largest part of my life. My parents.
In Korea, there is a joke (if you can call it that), that goes, "If there is a car coming straight towards your mother or your wife, who would you save?" The "correct" answer is "your mother, because you can always get another wife." Like every joke there is a thread of seriousness to this in that filial piety is a highly regarded part of society. Everyone wants everyone else to think that they have the best son or daughter and everyone wants to be the best son or daughter. A good Korean-American friend of mine has extremely abusive in-laws. They insult her appearance, her cooking, her child-rearing skills, anything they can attack. But she doesn't say anything back because her own mother tells her not to, because if she did, then her in-laws could not only say she was a bad daughter-in-law, but that her parents had not raised her properly. The purpose of this illustration is just to show how strong this sense of filial piety can be, that a grown woman born and educated in the US would be willing to take such abuse to please her own parents.
My father told me recently that if my parents and I were in Korea right now and North Korea invaded, my mother and I should get ourselves to the southeast tip of Korea and somehow make our way to Japan. He said, "My time is almost over anyway--don't look back." First of all, how is he going to hold off the North Korean army singlehanded notwithstanding his black belt in taekwondo? Second, how would we get to Japan, swim? Third, where are my husband and my sons? But in all seriousness, he is telling me to look to the future, that he would be completely fine with me abandoning him and saving my own life. I don't know why exactly, but when I think about him saying this, the tears won't stop coming.Continued on the next page