Grandma Ji Responds: 1

Round 2

Image: © J. Cole

Dear Rosario,

I am glad you have written. I am even happier to know my words fell on fertile ground.

Yes, it is true, as your recent experiences seems to have confirmed, man’s finite wisdom is confined to his own experiences and world view.

As you know, we are the product of upbringing and choices. By virtue of that fact we are limited to one or so household influences and the choices we make daily.

Had we been given the experience of a million homes, we would still lack perspective. If we were granted all options, and no choice was necessary, we would yet require wisdom. And had the entire gamut of synapses remained attached in infancy, we would remain mere primates, never functioning at full capacity.

We were made to have flaws, blind spots, lack, and misfortune. It is the unique design of humanity that makes this a good thing. A healthy thing, even.

Born with all knowledge and ability, we would suffer two misfortunes of arrogance — a disconnection from our Creator and a disconnection from our fellow man. We wouldn’t want that, would we?

Our inadequacies prime us for humility.

More than that, it gives us permission to bond with others through the necessity of cooperation and the admission, the recognition, even, of our shortcomings in the face of others’ gifts. We are made wiser by sharing our experiences, not by peddling our talents for praise. That is in no way permission to abscond duty by hiding talents in a false attempt at humility. Shout from the rooftops your gifts on offer. That will keep you honest. And speak no more of them. Offer the talents you know you’ve been blessed with in silent submission to the greater cause for which they were granted.

But I sense you don’t doubt your talents. You doubt their greater purpose. Just another case of randomness?

Well, I’m not sure it is.

You see, I was always the strange one. It took me nearly twice as long to figure out what you have determined so young. (And yes, you are still a baby. Thirty is when it all begins. Have no fear).

At home I wanted to study the universe, while my family wanted me to study the Creator of it. At school, I was the only student from a pro-American and Christian family. My fishing village was an anomaly of sorts. We were ardently traditional; yet, our parents were the first to create a town center and seek higher education for their children. Some trace this peculiar mix to a fortuitous visit from the charismatic Yi Seung-hun a hundred years prior.

Yi Seung-hun was a Catholic convert who radically changed the face of religion in South Korea. He was hunted, and eventually martyred, for his beliefs by the emperor. The story goes that during one of his escapes he sought refuge in my village.

To be continued…

Dear Grandma,/Ji →Rosario: Round 2

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