Admired Adults


As Yahoo News flashes Most Admired Person of the Year, I can’t help reflecting on Adults I most Admired ever.

From a teacher friend of my mom to complete strangers in heartland America, from a relief worker in the Pacific to far-away Africa, I remember them not so much for how much they were giving , but for HOW they go about giving.

The troubling thing about our century is not only there exists huge inequity, but also the ineffective venues to bridge that gap.

I had a glimpse of hope when the richest men of our age (Bill Gates and Warren Buffett) went to China to take pledges (gone are the days that rich is equated with being white, and poor, color folks).

Then it has been quiet all of a sudden.

What happened to those pledges of  The Millionaire Round Table? Meanwhile, the best investment we can make as a society is school lunch program with good nutrition.

When I was growing up, there was bread subsidies distributed through my mom’s school. I can type these words today partly thanks to those surplus flour flowing our way back then.

When one is hungry, the only thing in mind is to go out and find something to eat. Heck with ethics, eco-system or e-government.

Adults just don’t get it.

And when they do, it’s too late.

The damage has been done irrecoverably.

Later in life, I tried to put myself through school, and not just one. But two Christian graduate schools. Still, my early formation had been solidified by the time I got through admission. How I viewed right and wrong, what’s cool and what’s not, and whom I can trust.

When one grew up in war-time, observing the said and the done, and how far they were apart, one quickly grasps what reality gap was all about.

I empathize with my children, with young people growing up in war, in recession and in debt.

They are the ones without representation, without lobbyist in the hall of power (maybe with the exception of Michelle Obama and her school-lunch push).

Asked any school kid today. Would you find they want to grow up to be a policy maker? To un-jam the process called gridlock and filibuster?

Japan itself has lost one generation to gaming, virtual reality and most recently Fukushima.

Meanwhile, Samsung has become the number-one global brand, surpassing Apple and Coke.

Maybe we can all use a little Korean discipline. But first, show me some models I can admire. Someone who takes the bus to work and cooks his own meal.

Then maybe I will pay attention to ethics, eco-system and e-government.

My mom’s friend whom I will never forget, came to our house on New Year’s day. Per custom, she gifted the children with lucky money (Tet).

But instead of using paper money, folded neatly inside those red envelopes like everyone else, she made me open my two hands. Then one by one, she filled them with shiny pennies until I could no longer hold them. The weight of coin currencies still impressed upon me til this day. It’s not how much or how often one should give. It’s the way we go about giving. And on reflecting about New Year and giving, I promise myself not only to give often, but to pay special attention to the way I go about giving. Make it worth their while to receive from you. As Thomas Merton says “the poor was given the rich a chance to give. Both need each other” (paraphrasing);, those who give have more options and time to go to the bank and exchange the money, in any denomination. The poor, on the receiving end, can only accept  payment without option (the homeless don’t have a home address to receive checks).  Just make sure by the time bread get to their mouths, it’s not stale. If so, it’s a poor reflection on the most admiring exchange between human being. Most Admired Adult of 2013? You, when you start giving in the most humane way.

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