With Thanksgiving bringing news of a possible nuclear explosion I pulled out the maps and tried to assemble a meaningful perspective. The distance separating Gilju and Cheongju is roughly equivalent to the distance between Vancouver and Quesnel. Look at the map long enough, and the colours, lines and city names are replaced with mountains, rivers, homes, and ultimately people going about their daily lives. My initial ponderings of my personal closeness are quickly replaced with thoughts of how many millions of people occupy the space.
My limited engagement with the world media, particularly North American media (news feed on right carefully chosen) plays a role in my outlook. I am fed with only facts (or what I hope are the facts) and the feelings Koreans and foreigners I interact with choose to share. No editorials, no cross-fires, no bear-pit debates.
This size of my community and my activities contribute to my perspective. The pictures that leave Korea come mainly from Seoul, Pyongyang or the DMZ. It is in these much larger, or more militarily charged areas that the presence of Monday’s event can not be easily shaken off. While students here care a great deal about what is transpiring – even asking me if I feel scared – they are also occupied with busy university lives. As a result, the topic is not continually in the spotlight. Further, no one from home has asked about the perspective here at all. So discourse from afar has played no role in my thoughts.
Thus, I return to gazing at the map as thoughts skip all over. Perhaps some clarity can come from meandering back to Thanksgiving instead of wandering into editorializing or politicking. Nuclear explosions have affected the lives of ordinary humans before, and will again. It is with observances like Chuseok and Thanksgiving where people can take the time to recognize that through caring and striving for community we can create hope. The past is scattered with horrors, and the present is filled with doubt. But the examples of what communities and countries have overcome through caring and unity is incredible. It is families and friends, caring and community that will guide Koreans, and average citizens of the world through wherever these current events lead. Being thankful for those who care and build community, and remembering to take the time to the same is a perspective that rings with clarity.
-while I am not yet a Sunmudo master, a stay at Golgulsa temple made my first Chuseok an outstanding memory.
-special thanks to Aaron for having people over for Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkin pie was awesome.
-new photos posted on left.
-speaking of photos… check out some brilliant photos of Vancouver’s current Biennale… there’s even one I took in there.