Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 5

It's odd. I woke up this morning at 3:00am on the couch in the living room wearing only boxers with no blanket or pillow. My dog was there with me as was a glass of water. I sat up and looked around trying to gain some sort of recollection of what happened, but nothing. I've woken up on the couch before but that's usually accompanied by a hangover and a less-than-enthusiastic wife. After deciding that it was a fluke, I walked back to the bedroom and gently glided in next to my wife. I woke up several hours later still unsure about what had transpired. 

My wife was heading out of the city with a friend for a little countryside cruise, so the house was mine for the day. She left at about 9:30am. She wanted me to take her to the station on the motor-scooter, but I shouldn't be riding it. I did, though. This project is important to me, sure, however, my wife is much more important. I dropped her off and then headed back home. I had some plans today as well. I was meeting some old friends for lunch on a bar rooftop called Nashville in a foreigner-heavy district of Seoul. I'll go anywhere for outdoor fun. We were supposed to meet at noon, however, I got a call at 11:00am asking if we could push it back to 1:00pm. I hate last-minute plan changes, but every single Korean (and long-term expat) I know (wife including) does this, so it wasn't shocking at all. I used that time to call my mom.

Halfway through the conversation, I remembered that I needed to call the Quaker number again. I gave them a buzz and this time I got to talk to someone. From what I can now gather is that the father is American, the mother Korean and the son is mixed. Either way, I got to talk to the father -a very pleasant man- and he told me about the Weekly Meetings and some other details. I have my first meeting tomorrow at 11:00am. He gave directions (which are very confusing) and his number in case I get into a jam.  I hung up the phone feeling great. Tomorrow is going to be fantastic.

At this point, the conversation with my mom was drying up. It usually hits its peak at around 15 minutes or so. I signed off Skype, threw on my shoes and hit the road. It's not a long ride to our lunch spot, so I didn't bring any water or anything. Seoul is cut in half by a massive river with dozens of bridges traversing the gap. I usually travel across only two of them. Today, I decided to take the more leisurely one which stops by the newly renovated riverside parks. I can go slow and don't need to be worried about being chased off the road by impatient drivers. 

Just as I approached the bridge, I was met with heavy traffic. I assumed that the day's weather had drawn many day-trippers out of their apartments for a little vitamin D, so I casually scooted by most of the bottleneck. After a few moments, I realized that it wasn't an excess of Seoulites, but an accident between a motorcyclist and a middle-aged women in an over-sized sedan. Just like in America, people were rubber-necking. Car after car drove past, just staring at the smashed motorcycle and its driver laying silently on the hot pavement. The women was frantically pacing back and forth while calling 911 (or so I thought), but no one stopped to help.

I pulled in behind her. She turned to me and stared for a moment. She didn't think I could help her. What was I going to say? To her, if I couldn't speak Korean well enough, then my labor and assistance weren't necessary. Of course this is quite wrong. I was going to be late if I stopped, nonetheless I did anyways. 
Remember your responsibility as citizens for the government of your town and country, and do not shirk the effort and time this may demand. 
This was a passage I read moments before leaving the house. I am a Seoul citizen. I pay taxes, use the hospitals and visit the museums. This is my city just as much as any other has been. In fact, scratch that. I am more a citizen of Seoul than I have been in any other city in my life. It was my responsibility to pull my bike over and check on the unconscious man. So, I did just that. 

He was lying on the ground in an almost nap-like position with his head resting on his upper arm. I leaned down as if I knew what I was doing. The Korean women started shouting (in Korean), "No! No! No! Don't touch him!" I knew what she was doing. She wasn't worried about me making his injuries worse. No, she wanted the police to arrive on the scene and survey the damage and situation before he moved because she wanted to frame the story in support of her. I gently tapped his shoulder and he awoke from his stunned daze. Another bicyclist stopped to help and together we moved the damaged bike off the road. He stood up slowly and then sat against the railing. He looked like he'd be fine until the ambulance arrived.

I rode on. 

It was amazing that this women wasn't even looking at this guy as he laid there on the hot street. She -like all the other motorists- cared about her liability more than the man in need. I would have done the same thing had I been motorized at the time. Quakerism stresses so much that people need to be more compassionate, but they often take it one step further. They recognized the fruitlessness of simply sympathizing and making offerings and challenged themselves to find the cause.
Seek to discover the causes of social unrest, injustice and fear; try to discern the new growing-points in social and economic life. Work for an order of society which will allow men and women to develop their capacities and will foster their desire to serve.
I was planning on going to the river to clean up trash and I'm still doing that, but Quakerism tells me not only to bag the trash and dispose of it. That'd be too easy. They want me to get to the source of it. Now, cleaning and protecting the environment is more of a long term thing -which is why many liberal Quakers focus heavily on it- but I can use this stuff in my everyday life. 

I've been dealing with loads of foolishness at work a lot recently and today I discovered that my boss is moving to another branch -something that shocked me but was told was very common. So, it leaves me in an interesting position. I've been the manager under her (my current boss) for about a year and together we've dealt with a lot of crap. I have a current employee who has been on the chopping block for his entire year-long contract. Now that his only saving grace will be gone, I'm going to have to start cleaning house and in a real and permanent manner.

I'm tired of cleaning up temporary messes. Time to start seeking the cause.


  1. The quote about responsibility of citizenship is most intriguing. According to my records, your great great grandfather Enoch was forced to leave the Friends when he became a town official in Fairmount, Indiana -- because we was required to take an oath of office. He then joined a Congregational church. So, I wonder exactly what the deal is.

  2. I've been digging around about this topic because I'm also a little confused about what is and isn't allowed in terms of service in or for the government.

    What years would Enoch have been active? Late 1800s? If so, we could pinpoint his Meetings and perhaps even their specific rules.

  3. Just at a glance on Fairmont, the Congregational Church was organized in 1888. So maybe before that?

    Emma C. Beals (relation?) was a teacher in Fairmont Township.

    Take a look:

  4. And this one:

  5. This family history makes this very compelling. Will be anxious to hear what Uncle John shares after checking out your sites, although since he is in France right now, he might not have all of his resources with him.

  6. Also....our conversation was "drying up"??? Nice, George.