Eugene Cho

a picture says a 1000 words beginning with: “inconceivable”

Update:  Check out a call for the church to move towards post-election reconciliation:  Let’s Kiss and Make Up.

The picture below sums up why Obama’s presidency is truly historical.  Many of us don’t really know because we’ve only seen it or felt it through the eyes and stories of others.  As I shared in an earlier post, I wasn’t ga-ga about Obama but as a minority or person of color, I was overwhelmed and cried like a baby during his speech.  But I could tell that my tears were different that those that flowed down and kept flowing down from the eyes of Maya Angelou, Jesse Jackson, Toni Morrison, and others. There was a time when even the idea of a black person becoming the President of the United States was absolutely inconceivable.  

Let me rephrase that in another way: The idea did not even exist.

And so maybe someday, we will see a female president, a Latino-American president, and even an Asian-American president.  Last night, my children and I plotted my kids’ path to the Presidency in 2044.  We’re not sure which kid it’ll be but here’s the crazy thing:  We talked about it and it wasn’t crazy.

onepicturesaysitall

Whether Obama becomes a good president, only time will tell.  But even if we disagree with HOW we get there or the methodolgy, all Americans should agree on many of our goals, right?  I appreciated this comment from this occasional blog visitor who was NOT an Obama supporter:

While I don’t support his policies, I am hopeful for a great administration.  His election is truly historic for America and represents how far we’ve come.  I hope America is again enthused and energized to make positive change and really help solve some of the world’s problems though I may disagree with the method in which they are solved.

 [Image source: No idea.  Was emailed to me. Patrick Moberg]

Filed under: family, politics, religion, ,

24 Responses

  1. great image.

    and while I love the idea that anyone can truly have the dream of being president and the symbol of opportunity that represents, I don’t think I would ever want to encourage my kids in that direction. as great as that position is and as much as I supported Obama – being president of the USA isn’t a healthy occupation. It is a sell your soul, sacrifice everything, and get worked to the bone job. It of course can be used for great good and while I appreciate that Obama is willing to do that for our country and the world, my heart breaks for his kids. I hope they are okay with giving up their daddy because others need him more.

    so maybe I’m an evil mom who is too selfish to encourage her kids to sacrifice it all for the sake of others. if that is the sort of person they are, then I will support that, but I won’t dangle the presidency as the highest form of achievement they could seek. I hope that makes sense and I’m not just rambling on about nothing…

  2. Dan says:

    there are those of us in the ‘power class’ (white male) that have beleived that this day would come and that when it did it would depend on many in our group supporting it. we’ve been responsible for much suffering as a group but many of us have been committed to accepting responsibility for our groups history and celebrate what has happened in the past 24 hours.

  3. Dan says:

    o, p.s. that is a powerful picture!

  4. Beautiful.

    It is a new day rising, and it will include a new emphasis on the Arts:

    http://fullbodytransplant.wordpress.com/2008/11/02/obama-for-the-arts/

    We did it.

    Yes we did.

  5. DK says:

    “The idea did not even exist…”

    Wow.

  6. Rick says:

    Hey Dan – white males are in a power class? I didn’t know that I was part of a power class. Where’s my power? Dang! I hate it when I miss something like that.

  7. joann says:

    the image is by Patrick Moberg – http://www.patrickmoberg.com.

  8. Rusty says:

    Couple of thoughts:
    1. totally nitpicking, but as a historian, I couldn’t let this go(!): the picture above is great has fairly realistic renditions of the presidents. I couldn’t help but notice that Eisenhower and Truman are out of order. And yes, I’m the kind of nerd that notices stuff like that.

    2. @Rick: if you are a white male, you most certainly are part of the power class. And the fact that you don’t recognize it makes it that much more powerful. (my apologies if you made that comment tongue in cheek – these things are hard to detect in writing). If you’re interested, you might pick up a copy of _Divided by Faith_ by Michael O. Emerson. It’s a very quick read but incredibly important for understanding structural inequalities that we white folks usually miss.

    3. Which brings me to this. While Tuesday’s election was truly historic and rightly deserves be celebrated, I hope we don’t fool ourselves into thinking we are now a post-racial country. That somehow because a black man was elected president we have now lived up to the ideals of equality espoused at our nation’s founding. To be sure, President Obama is a start. But it is only a single step in the long journey toward true racial equality in the United States. And as gracious as McCain’s concession speech was Tuesday night, the theme that “it’s all good now” was one that was a little troubling to me. Again, a reading of Emerson’s work would be instructive on this point.

  9. chris says:

    @Eugene: tremendous post as always – and people send you the coolest stuff!

    @Rusty: thanks for clarifying that Eisenhower and Truman were out of order. It confused me as I was going through, trying to identify everyone! I also appreciated your #1 comment, which leads me to…

    @Rick: in this country you definitely have power simply by being white, and by being male. It might not be immediately noticeable to you, if you are in a context where you are constantly surrounded by people similar to you. Try this experiment: go with a person of color to a department store, and stand in the customer service line. Before either of you opens your mouth, just see if the person who waits on you looks at you as the answer person. That’s just a simple example, but it’s an insidious thing.

  10. chris says:

    oops – I meant Rusty’s #2 comment!

  11. HK says:

    Hey Pastor Eugene, funny… the other day at school, I asked my third grade students to open up their social studies book to look at the album of presidents. We went through each president, starting w/ Washington so they couldreally see just how historical this election is. It’s quite amazing.

  12. kA says:

    During Obama’s speech, I had my 2-yr old son sitting on my lap. I looked at him eye to eye, father to son, and I told him, “son, you can be anything you want” and I genuinely meant it. Man, I almost cried because I believed it for the first time.

  13. eugenecho says:

    @julie: agree. i really really wouldn’t want any of them to UNLESS they discerned a strong conviction and calling. heck, i don’t even want them to be a pastor even though two of them keep telling me they want to be pastors.

    i can’t even comprehend that kind of burden.

    @dan: thank you brother.

    @rusty: wow. nice call on the eisenhower and truman thing. i would have called it umm…had i known.

    good comment on the post-racial. it will never happen. but we are moving closer to the shalom that God intended.

  14. Dan Hauge says:

    That picture is close to a placemat that one of my friends brought over to our election night party–one of those great cheesy plastic placemats for kids, probably from the early eighties, that had little pictures of “Our American Presidents” on it. Pretty funny. Time to start making new placemats:)

  15. Tony says:

    Rusty: That 3rd comment is exactly what I’ve been thinking. I keep on hearing so many people talking about how far we’ve gone and how we are now a “post-racial” society. While Obama’s election is a sure sign that we have come quite a long ways, I also find the sentiment of racism being a thing of the past to be quite troubling. We are most definitely not post-race… although apparently when it comes to the presidency, we are at least post facial hair! According to the picture, it has been about 18 presidents since we’ve elected a president with an awesome ‘stache. Sheesh! :-)

  16. DC says:

    So my thoughts are a bit mixed. On one hand — there’s no question in my mind that this election result was truly historical and inspirational — (whether I agree with his specific policies or not). On the other hand, it’s not enough to simply be the first bi-racial president elect. He STILL must settle down to the real work of being president (bi-racial or not) and deliver on the expectations he’s set out for the voters. People can choose to celebrate now — but there’s a point where the racial thing must become invisible, because in the end — it should not matter.

  17. J. P. says:

    @rusty, Truman (1945–53) and Eisenhower (1953–61) are in the correct order (source).

    As a bonus, here’s an annotated “skitch” of Moberg’s illustration based on the site’s chronology: http://is.gd/6xJN.

  18. JB says:

    Rusty and JP, you are both right! Ike and Truman are out of order on the thumbnail, and in the right order if you double-click and get the larger image.

  19. craig says:

    I like this version much better =D

  20. […] a picture says a 1000 words beginning with: “inconceivable” The picture below sums up why Obama’s presidency is truly historical.  Many of us don’t really know […] […]

  21. […] as I mentioned on Eugene Cho’s blog the other day, I am uncomfortable with dangling the dream of becoming President of the USA as […]

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One Day’s Wages

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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