Current events are largely disheartening these days. People are protesting against things that should be universal rights, they are killing each other in ridiculous ways for pointless reasons, radical ideologies cause governments to turn into dictatorships, and so on. With all of the negativity its important to keep your moral compass strong, be open to see the other perspective, and to be hopeful.
While I like Thanksgiving for its time off from work so that it can be spent with family, friends, or loved ones, I do need to also acknowledge that it’s based on events that never really happened to the extent to which its taught in schools and passed around as common knowledge. Yes, the relationships between the colonists and the natives may have been peaceful and an Indian by the name of Squanto may have helped educate settlers (who were technically immigrants at that point), but there needs to be a push toward the truth and not toward ignorance and denial. As an educator I can’t stand to teach children false information.
I’ve been getting tired of celebrating people like Columbus who was praised for his failure and the continued labeling of Native Americans as Indians. I’m tired of learning about how the pilgrims and the native Americans were best friends and enacted in coloring books and grade school class assignments as Playmobil cartoon drawings. Even though I stick out as the sore thumb when I bring up the truth behind much of history that is celebrated incorrectly today, it needs to be discussed. The way people are truly killed is by destroying their history, language, food, music, attire, and customs. It’s faster to forget how they even existed, which is scary because that is happening today thanks to our parenting and curriculum.
That being said, I really like the term Friendsgiving because it allows for more open-minded discussion. You have less of a chance of having strange conversations about hate, fear-mongering, or historically racist spiels from family members who really don’t have much experience in interacting with people from other backgrounds than their own.
While living in South Korea, it's a challenge trying to find American, Indian, or South African associated food, activities, or events that connect with my backgrounds, but I’ve been starting to find a few by looking hard and asking about them. They have allowed my transition of moving to a foreign country for the first time to be pleasant and seamless, but being over here does have its bad days.
The other week I got ripped off by a taxi driver who chose to take a different route. When I realized what he was doing, I asked him in Korean why he was driving on a bridge to go with a longer route. I was upset because this wasn’t the first time it has happened and on top of that, this usually happens to foreigners because they either lack the speaking ability or awareness that they were even being ripped off in the first place. I ended up paying the fair, but I took a picture of his information in hopes of being able to report it later. I found out that there was a website to do so, which was kind of cool. After thinking of it from another perspective the next day when I wasn’t so upset, I thought about how many Taxi drivers I had ridden with who had been nice, funny, and fair. I couldn’t count because there had been so many. Movies like A Taxi Driver that depicts a South Korean Taxi driver helping a foreign German TV journalist smuggle out footage of atrocities committed by the dictatorship of the 1980s. This film was directed by Jang Hun and lets audiences see that there are good people out there who are kind even if it was just based on a true story. There is also a chance that the driver was a terrible person and targets foreigners. I can’t know for sure. I’ll make a post about taxi tips to keep in mind when traveling to South Korea in the near future.
To celebrate, my coworkers and I decided to go to a duck restaurant in Bupyeong called Barbecue Gwangjang. That is pronounced as Barbecue Go-wahng-jahngm 바베큐광장. It was a duck place, but my girlfriend had the idea that it was the closest there was to Turkey on such short notice. We had to work with what we had, but if you have ever had duck, it was a great idea. Check out my short video on Youtube to see how it went down from the taxi ride over to the soju shots and the feast in 4K for best quality!
At the end of the day, when it comes down to it, you spend your time with people who you vibe with. That’s something you can control. Sure there are those days where something happened that shouldn’t have and it was so low, immoral, ignorant, racist, unjust, etc. Sometimes you need people to vent to even if you can’t fix the current situation. It feels good knowing there are others who can see your perspective. It’s important to recognize who those people are because they make up your support group. Sometimes it’s not just your parents, your brother, or family members. It can be your significant other, your friends, and even coworkers. It’s important to recognize that not everyone in the world is a bad person.
It’s also amazing how far a smile, positivity, thanks, and respect can take you. Of course being required to smile is never ok. It’s up to the person, but it more so depends on how genuine the smile is. Real smiles are the best for you and your overall health. In a 2010 study done by Wayne State University, researchers studied the intensity of smiles on longevity. Coders were given randomly assigned baseball cards with players from 1950s an onward and were asked to give a three tier rating system, no smile, partial smile, and full Duchenne smile. I feel like this is pronounced as Douche-enn. I actually looked it up and it seems to be correct. Yes, it’s a wonderful word and for me it causes a true Duchenne smile.
The study analyzed 230 baseball cards and only the senior author was aware of the purpose of the study. The average ages of the three groups were as follows: 72.9, 75.0, and 79.9 years old for no smiles, partial smiles, and Duchenne smiles respectively. Check out the article for yourself on JSTOR, but I would like to see more research done about this. I’ve definitely noticed in myself and my friends the differences on one’s outlook when certain events occur.
I am thankful for my friends and family who are woke and stay woke, who are hungry for the truth and humble to admit when they are corrected or taught something new. Let’s use this time of year to learn something new and do what we can, big or small to make our world a better place.
Abel, Ernest L., and Michael L. Kruger. “Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity.” Psychological Science, vol. 21, no. 4, 2010, pp. 542–544. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41062245.