The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but violence takes lives away. –Proverbs 11:30
Dear members and friends,
In Korea, I attended a middle school that had a reputation for being very rough and tough. There were stories that many infamous gangsters in the nation were from my school. Perhaps to keep up with the infamy or simply due to puberty, the kids in this school acted tough themselves. When we were in our final year, we named the three toughest and strongest fighters in the school. I happened to be close to one of the three, who was notoriously the most cruel and crazy one. After we became somewhat friendly, he told me something that was quite shocking: in reality, he was afraid that everyone in the school would find out how miserable his life actually was! His mother was a third or fourth concubine to a very successful and famous businessman in town. However, he was not allowed to call his father as “father” nor was he allowed to take his last name. As a matter of fact, his father never called him by his name or even acknowledged his existence. My friend’s mother was entirely submissive to his father and only showed affection to her son with money. Growing up without love and encouragement, he was the shyest kid in his elementary school and frequently bullied. So upon entering middle school he wanted to change that, but the only thing he could think to do was to be entirely mindless of his own safety and life. After all, he did not see any meaning or reason to live any longer! So, each time he was fighting with someone, he fought with the mindset that he was willing to die in that fight. However, he soon discovered the sad fact that people were afraid of violence, especially when accompanied by craziness. After that, he decided to use this to his advantage.
Reflecting upon 9/11 and the many other suicide bombers and violence in the world brought back my long-gone memory of this friend whom I met 33 years ago. It saddened my heart deeply to think that a human being could grow up willing to choose death over life, which is against all natural and spiritual inclinations. Then, I started to pray for all those who happened to be born in such dark places, situations, and conditions; for those not embrace by loving hands when entering this world and not taught that they have both the power and freedom to choose to be what they desire. And another prayer for those who were born in bright and safe places, and welcomed and taught by loving hands, yet are not appreciative or thankful for what they have. Despite my prayers, my heart is still saddened because the world remains the same. Yet, I find hope and comfort in a Creator whose essence is love itself, and who created humans in the image of love. So I will continue to pray that one day, all humans will see the value and purpose in pursuing a life that is truly meaningful and fulfilling.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee