Eugene Cho

Remember that our lives matter. Remember to be more human – to loved ones, neighbors, and strangers alike.

robin-williams-cover-ftr

It feels awkward and even a bit inappropriate to be talking about ‘celebrity news’ when so much is going on around the world: Iraq, refugees in Syria, children stranded at borders, Michael Brown’s death and Ferguson, Ebola, Ukraine, and the list tragically goes on.

But then again, it feels appropriate because it’s another reminder of the fragility of our humanity.

By now, most of you know that Robin Williams past away today (August 11). His life ended way too short at the young age of 63 – apparently because of suicide. While this was news to me, Robin had been struggling with intense depression – especially as of late.

To be honest, I don’t get caught up too much on celebrity happenings mainly because there’s not much genuine connection. I don’t really know them personally. Make sense? Robin Williams’ death – on the other hand – just felt like a painful punch in the gut. Perhaps, it’s because Mork and Mindy (Nano Nano) was the first TV show I watched (along with Buck Rodgers) after immigrating to the United States. I deeply resonated with Mork – this ‘alien’ or ‘foreigner’ from another land trying to fit in. Perhaps, it’s because so many  of the characters he played in countless movies influenced me on some level as it did so many others.

Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why his apparent suicide is so shocking and sobering.  If anyone should have been laughing through life…surely, it must have been Robin. He was a genius. He was genuinely funny. A comedic genius. He was a brilliant actor. He was respected by his peers.

But…
We don’t really know.
We all carry hurts, pains, burdens, and fears.
We’re all facing hurdles, struggles, and obstacles.
And some – if not many – struggle through the anguish of depression.

Perhaps, this is another wake up call for all of us.

If I may, I’d like to humbly and gently encourage you:

Please  … go … and call or hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them. Don’t just think it in your mind but actually do it. Tell them you love them. Remind them how you much appreciate them. Share with them how much they have impacted, encouraged, and blessed you. Tell them that they matter. Tell them that they matter to God.

In many ways, many of us need to (re)learn how to be more human. Does this make sense?

Don’t avoid eye contact.
Don’t hide behind our gadgets.
Let’s smile often – both to neighbors and strangers alike.
Let’s ask about peoples’ stories.
And listen. Genuinely listen.
Let’s be generous with our stories.
Live with vulnerability rather than suspicion and cynicism.
Share more meals. Laugh more.

Yes. We need to (re)learn to be more human.

And most importantly, remind yourself that YOU are loved. Not just merely by your loved ones but also by the ONE who created all that is good and beautiful. 

Take a moment. Breathe in and out this truth:
Our lives matter.
Our lives matter to God.
God loves you.

We need reminders.
We need self-reminders.
We need others to regularly remind us.
And when we need help, we need others to remind us – again.
And there’s no shame in asking for help.
No shame in asking for reminders.

Our lives matter.
Our lives matter to God.
God loves you.

This is another wake up call but we don’t have to wait for the next wake up call.
Remember that we matter.
Remember that we matter to God.
Remember that God loves us.
Remember to be more human – to loved ones, co-workers, neighbors, and strangers alike.

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* The Suicide Prevention Center: (877) 727-4747
* The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Crisis Text Line: For those who prefer not to call, text LISTEN to 741741

photo credit: Conde Nast magazine // LA Times

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7 Responses

  1. I’ve read today (and it makes the whole sense) that the probably real cause of the death of R. Williams is not a simple depression, but a depression associated to a bipolar disorder, something (experts say) known by his people around. I repeat it, it makes the whole sense, because some of the things that they are saying today about Williams (drug addiction, e.g.) fits with the BP. Recently in my family we are having to know profoundly this disorder, and we’re learning to fit it in the christian faith. Thank you for your words, Eugene, because we are learning by our own that ONLY LOVE, and foremost the PERFECT LOVE OF GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST can overcome this kind of illness.

  2. Beth says:

    I was feeling the same with all the other issues going on I did not want to say much. But. I am truly saddened by his passing. His comic genius and the pathos. ..he will be missed.

  3. Cathy says:

    I used to be one of those people that would say how could someone’s life be so bad that they would take their own life. We’ll I know because I have depression and anxiety. I was afraid to post this because I feel people look at you different. I have a wonderful family support. I pray for his family and everyone and others that maybe going thru the same. Trust in God and let your family help you. Their is plenty of help out there,

  4. Ty says:

    Just receive it right now in this moment in time. Gently embrace the truth – feel the truth – that your life matters, that you matter, that God loves you and that you are loved – fill your heart and pour it out…..I just did.
    With gratitude, Ty

  5. Naomi says:

    When a person is depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts, they do not see the future as getting any better. They do not feel like their problems are temporary. They see no way out of their problems or situation. They can not think about the fact that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. They just want relief from the thoughts and feelings they are experiencing. Painful thoughts. Painful feelings. They don’t care that others care. That does not take away the problem(s). They don’t care that God cares. That does not take away the problem(s). They just want relief!! And the thought of death feels like it will stop the pain. Been there. (But I am ok now. Have medicine and most of my problems are no longer there.)

  6. “Even broken tree bear good fruits in heaven”.
    Dear Robin Williams, RIP, you’ll be dearly missed, we love you!! ❤

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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