Peace and Brotherhood
In WWII, over 60 million people died. California’s population is 40 million. So during WWII more than one and half times the population of California perished because of the war.
The power of destruction has increased since the WWII, 70 years ago. The atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima in 1945 had the power of 20,000 tons of TNT. It killed about 100, 000 people within seconds. Today’s nuclear warheads have power of over 1 million tons of TNT, more than 50 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
If the Russian president orders his general to push a button to send one of his war heads to San Jose, within hours, a warhead with one million tons of TNT will fly to our city and explode thousands feet above the air. The mushroom cloud will spread over the city instantly killing all of us, over one million people and turning Silicon Valley into a Valley of Death.
Today both Russia and the United States have several thousand nuclear warheads. Fortunately, the leaders of the both countries are aware of the destructive power they possess, and fear mutual destruction. This balance of terror has kept us from WWIII for the last 70 years.
Most of us are aware of the destructive power we have, and we do not want another war. We do not want another Korean War. We do not want another war in Viet Nam. Instead, we want peace.
I believe that yearning for peace and brotherhood are universal qualities that all of us seek in our journey on this tiny planet called the earth.
We want peace at home. We want peace among our neighbors. We want peace in the world.
At home we want to create an environment where our children grow up happy, healthy and responsible citizens in a peaceful world.
As one who was born in Korea during the time when Japan ruled my country, and who witnessed how mercilessly the people of the conquered were treated by the their conquerors, and as one who lived through the Korean War when I witnessed human cruelty, Northern brothers and Southern brothers killing each other as if they were mortal enemies, I wondered, “Why do we hate? Why do we kill when it is so much fun and nice playing together and helping each other as brothers and sisters?”
I dreamed of a world, where people of all races, blacks, whites, yellows and browns, hold hands across the vast continents, over the deep oceans, form a big circle around the earth, look at each other with smile and sing a mighty of song brotherhood.
Unfortunately, I see the world still full of conflicts.
The war rages on in Afganistan. North Korea wants to gobble up South Korea. Iran is working on a nuclear capability, likely in the hope of wiping out the land of Israel. Thousands of children in Africa lose their parents and become homeless. They walk the streets, begging for food. Young girls get raped and murdered. Young boys either turn criminals or beggars. All due to the factional fights going on within their countries.
Suicide bombers loaded with dynamite around their bodies blow themselves up in crowded market places killing dozens of people while proclaiming ‘Allah, be praised.’
A young man sprays bullets at a Congress woman and kills and wounds innocent people around her.
A boy kills his girl friend, a husband kills his wife, a mother kills her child. The list goes on and on.
Even in churches where people gather to worship the God of Jesus Christ, the God of Love, tensions develop between ministers and their congregations. The house of worship and love turns into the house of ice cubes and hate.
I ask myself, “Why are there conflicts among people when everyone wants peace and brotherhood?”
When someone tells me, “Go to hell,’ why can’t I say, ‘God bless you,’ instead of saying, ‘You go to hell also.’?
Why do I growl at my dear wife when she tells me today is Sunday, the day to go to church for worship, not the day to watch a golf game on TV?
I believe the basic reason for the problems in the world and in our homes is our nature that says, ‘I want to do it my way.’ ‘My way is the right way.’ ‘My religion is the right religion.’ ‘My god is the right god.’ I will go to church if I choose to go, not because you tell me to go. I want peace and brotherhood my way, not your way.
I want rice and kimchee for breakfast, rice and kimchee for lunch, and rice and kimchee for supper. But my wife says, “Dear, you need a balanced diet. You need oatmeal for breakfast. A tuna fish sandwich for lunch. And for supper, organically grown steamed broccoli and brown rice, and chicken bought from the Whole Foods store, not the beef full of chemicals bought from other super markets. My response is, “I have lived on rice and kimchee for all my growing years. Look at me. I am as healthy as anybody else. Please leave me alone.” But my wife is concerned for my health. She thinks her way is the right way for my health. And I think my way is the right way.
How do we solve this ‘I want to do my way’ problem?
For me the rice and kimchee is not a big problem because I am willing to be given into my wife’s way for the sake of peace at home. But suppose my wife wants to move to Canton, Ohio, and I want to live in San Jose. What do I do? Go to Canton? No way. Compromise and go to Julesburg, Nebraska, a no-man’s land, which is half way between Canton and San Jose? I don’t think so.
Many of us face this kind of problems in our lives. Mother wants to raise her children her way while Father wants his way. Mother thinks Father’s way lead their children into bullies while Father thinks her way will lead the children into cry babies. Husband wants his wife to stay home, cook, do the laundry and raise their children while husband brings home his paycheck. Wife’s response is “Wake up my sweet husband. You are living in the dark age.” Some church members want a female, gay minister to show the world that their church is open and affirming while others have different views. There aren’t easy solutions to many of our problems that all can agree on because we have our ways and they have their ways. And there are no clear cut wrong ways and right ways because right and wrong are subjective words.
So what do we do?
I know from experience that when my heart is filled with love for someone, my thought is not on myself but on the person I love. I think of giving rather than receiving. If my child needs a kidney transplant, I will not think twice of donating my kidney for my child’s well-being. If an institution that I feel close to asks me for donation, I will write a check without much thought.
So love is the solution to many of our ‘I want my way’ problems. When our hearts are filled with love for others, our attention is no longer directed to I want my way mentality but to the well-being of others. Where there is love, my way and your way problems can be addressed in an atmosphere of compassion and humility.
Love brings people together. When I take my jacket off and give to a shivering child on a street in a cold winter day and see him smile at me with gratitude, the child and I become one through love. When I send money to an orphanage in Africa and receive a picture of smiling children waving their hands toward the camera, I feel tears in my eyes, and those children and I become one through love. That’s the gift of love. In love, giving becomes receiving, and the grateful receiving becomes giving.
But how can we love those who harmed us, who harmed our families?
How could I love those Japanese police during their rule in Korea who had taken my father away to prison because he was a Christian minister who refused to bow down to their emperor? How could I love those police who had taken my house leaving us homeless? How could I love those soldiers who had treated my brother like a slave in Japan, who returned home with an injury and died in a hospital bed? How could I love those North Korean officers who had come to my home and had taken my father away, never to return?
I had to turn to God for help. I had to turn to God to cleanse my heart from anger and hatred for those who had harmed me and my family during WWII and the Korean War. I had to turn to God for courage to surrender myself to His will, whatever it may be.
So my unceasing prayer has been, “Please give me the courage to surrender myself to Your will, whatever it may be. Not my way but your will be done.”
I believe when we surrender ourselves to God, we will find peace within us. And this peace within us will spread outward and touch the hearts of those around us with the message of peace and brotherhood in the world.