Thanksgiving is one of our favorite times of the year. Surprisingly though, we were pounded with a snowstorm earlier this week, and it’s been cold ever since. During the storm, I-5 was called a parking lot. On the news, we saw many drivers abandon their cars on the sides of the roads to walk home.
We also saw a lot of people play the blame game, blaming the City of Seattle for the road conditions and blaming other drivers for not knowing how to drive in the snow — and we understand it’s frustrating to be stuck on the road for hours. However, the holiday is just around the bend. It’s a good time to let those ill feelings go. For a while, the winter weather was all we thought and talked about.
But let us offer a bit of news that doesn’t have anything to do with snow.
A 13-year-old half-Korean American boy from Mississippi, Jonathan Lee, recently staged a protest in Tiananmen Square. He was campaigning to turn the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea into a peace park. Lee is trying to convince leaders of China, the United States, and the Koreas to reunite the Koreas.
In the past, Lee has been in the news for his activism. He has written letters to President Barack Obama and to South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak. He visited North Korea in August for a tour of the DMZ. His letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was forwarded by officials.
We often complain about ‘kids these days’ and how too many members of Generation Y (Millennials) are apathetic and don’t work as hard as their parents.
However, a young activist like Lee challenges this perception. Often, we think that second- and third-generation Asian Americans don’t care as much as they should about their Asian heritage, so it’s interesting to see a teen like Lee embrace a historic event that he didn’t live through.
Of course, he’s young and doesn’t yet understand all the complexities of reunification, but we can’t expect him to have the wisdom of a 50-year-old man. His enthusiasm and optimism are things that we need more of.
It is also heartening to read that the Chinese police led Lee and his mother away from Tiananmen without much fuss. This is in contrast to how violently authorities reacted during past demonstrations, notably during the student-led pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989, in which hundreds were killed.
Lee’s parents also deserve credit for encouraging their son’s activism. They supported him not only with words, but also by buying him plane tickets and accompanying him on his trips. On camera, Lee is well-spoken and seems like a smart young man.
So this week, when you brave the cold wind to pick up your holiday fixings and prepare to spend time with family, it might be easy to think about how annoying it is that the roads are horrible and the lines are long — but don’t forget to keep things in perspective. ♦