Uncovering Hope


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Not long before Donald Trump announced victory, early on the morning of Wednesday, November 9, my brother Kento died.

I was in Italy, meeting him for the first time just days before he passed. There in the hospital, he was unable to speak or move much at all. But he squeezed my hand. And it meant the world to me.

Our hands touched.

And then he died.

It’s been a hard month. Hard to know what’s real. Some days, I find myself curled up on the floor, crying, not always sure about what. Other days, most days, I’m numb. Tired. I’ve been struggling to pray, talk, write. It’s hard to make sense of these things. Of anything.

A few days after Kento died, my family flew back to Trump’s America. Nothing makes sense.

On the other hand, it feels familiar.

I remember sitting on floors in New York, in Brazil, in South Korea. Always, my legs were crossed, as I listened to our self-proclaimed savior, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church and revered Second Coming of Christ. He talked for hours about how we should live, about the people we should avoid, about his own perfection. Hours and hours and hours. Of talk.

Much of it was hate – for gay people (“dung-eating dogs”), for women (American women were sluts), for black people (“little by little the color of black people will gradually become lighter”) – in the name of “peace.” His message took root in people like my parents, discontented idealists whose hurts and hopes he used to his own advantage.

People gave their lives and all they owned to serve Moon and his church.

Moon’s evangelistic successes made him feel powerful. Entitled. There were affairs. Sexual abuse and assault. Human trafficking. He arranged a marriage between two of his own children – half-siblings. In Moon’s mind, people were objects to be manipulated and used for his own purposes. His own successes. His own pleasure.

He was a deeply selfish man. And we worshiped him.

When I see Donald Trump or read his words, I think of Moon. The language he uses, his posture, his tone, the way his face moves. Trump thinks he’s better than other people. Trump believes he is our savior. Only he knows best. Only he counts. He is impulsive, controlling, demeaning. He takes advantage of people’s hurts and hopes in order to radicalize them, in order to get what he wants.

I know what one man can do with a religion. I don’t yet know what one similar man can do with a country.

And yet, somewhere deep in me, there’s hope.

My brother, Kento, was surrounded each day in that hospital by people who knew him and loved him – people who were also strangers to me. His kindness drew people in – they all had stories.

He squeezed my hand, and I am reminded of all the ways I’ve been held together by those who love me. I’ve felt God’s hands. God’s arms. I know what it is to be held by love.

Our hands touched, and then he was gone. But the rest of us. We’re still here.

Nothing makes sense right now. Except this.

We’re still here.

I’m still here.

And I need you. To help uncover the hope in me while I help uncover the hope in you.

Maybe that feels like drinking beer, watching as much Gilmore Girls as possible before the new mini-series is released, praying even though we’re not sure how or what for. Maybe it feels like church. A community of wounded healers.

Because strong men can’t take everybody captive. And others – once used up and thrown away – will need us more than ever. Maybe this is why I still believe in church, even though I’m disappointed by so much of it. We need each other. And as we show up for each other – even as we ache, even as we feel destroyed – we testify that love is worth it. We are worth it.

I can’t promise everything will be OK or that justice will prevail. We can already see that things are going to get a lot worse before they can get better. But I can promise you this: you don’t have to be alone. Come, sit down next to me, and I’ll hold your hand.

“Radical hope is our best weapon against despair, even when despair seems justifiable; it makes the survival of the end of your world possible. Only radical hope could have imagined people like us into existence. And I believe that it will help us create a better, more loving future.”Junot Diaz

10 thoughts on “Uncovering Hope

  1. Greg says:

    Hyesun, I am very sad to hear about your brother. But I am glad that you could at least, meet him. Even once.

    I am sad also, to hear the judgement and attack that you hurl upon Rev. Moon, the very person that brought your parents together, and thus the source of you. Obviously, you have been deeply hurt, somewhere in your life. I don’t pretend to know what that feels like, or understand it nor do I prescribe any remedy, other than pray humbly and sincerely to ask Jesus, about who Rev Moon is, and be willing to…listen.

    I am sure, that you have heard all the rationalizations and can justify your positions in your mind, and I am sure that far better people than, I have shared with you reasons to turn your hate from that of vilification and attack, to compassion and love.

    There are hundreds of thousands of good decent compassionate and caring sincere people my, spiritual brothers and sisters, whose lives have been incredibly changed and impacted by the the life teachings and example of Rev Moon. Including me.

    You are certainly entitled to your opinions and you have the right to live your life as you see fit, without DP and all the rest that goes with it. But you insult all those good people, men women and children who have been deeply and richly blessed, by “all of that”. Who are just as righteous, sincere and intelligent as you.

    I know you don’t know me, you probably do know some of my kids, and their friends and you can probably toss off a clever joke or or jab about what I’ve written here, but I assure when I found out about your brother and your subsequent trip to visit him…one time, I offered a sincere prayer for you and your ordeal. I am praying still. I hope you can somehow enjoy the coming holiday with your community and friends. May God Bless you.


  2. Michael Edwards says:

    This is moving and beautiful, friend Hye Sung.

    Greg: Rev Moon is not the maker of Hye Sung’s soul; God is; and the Light shines through him.


  3. Blythe says:

    Hi HS, you were in a dream of mine last night, and so I thought I’d check your blog. So sorry to hear the news of your brother’s passing. Hope you are well.


  4. cat says:

    Hi. I’ve been reading/following your blogs (as well as stuff you wrote on hwdykym) for a while and just came across this post and felt the need to comment.

    May your brother rest in peace and please remember to take extra good care of yourself during this time of grief.
    I was also part of the church and also have lost a brother, too.

    Here is a quote that was comforting to me and I hope it’ll be of some comfort to you, too:

    Those we love don’t go away
    They walk besides us everyday
    Unseen, unheard, but very near
    still close still loved and very dear


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