MUSIC, LEADERSHIP, CULTURE… and humor (sometimes)

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More than a Korean Susan Boyle

If you have not seen Sung-Bong Choi’s story, please take a moment NOW to watch this Korea’s Got Talent clip:

I don’t have too many words to say except this: Wow.

We should know by now that the way a person looks has very little to do with the talents that they possess.

Even if you don’t believe in God, this has to be one of the few times you feel compelled to believe in a Divine Justice.

Unfortunately, the world does not operate under a perfect justice–

The rich get richer.  The poor get poorer.

Good things happen to evil people.  Horrible things happen to great people.

The Yankees win the World Series.

Heidi Montague and Spencer Pratt have fans.

Etc. Etc.

The story and voice of Sung Bong Choi grab me because I am seeing someone who is walking proof that Grace exists.  Yes, he has lived an unbelievably heart-wrenching life up to this point, but he has also been given a gift from the Hand of God Himself.

And he is making sure he doesn’t waste it.  This Grace is meant to be shared.

Keep singing, Sung Bong Choi.  You are obviously loved and you deserve every bit of the Divine Justice bestowed upon you.

What intrigues you about his story and voice? 

My son, the 2 yr old advocate for the poor

Every weekday morning, I take my 2 year-old son, Micah, to school.  School has been the place where Micah could satisfy his growing social needs while mommy and daddy get some quiet time for a few hours each day.  It’s a win-win situation in every sense.

There is a definite routine to our morning trek.  We eat breakfast, get dressed, kiss mommy and baby Isla goodbye and head downstairs with the umbrella stroller in my left hand and Micah rested on my right arm.  Once downstairs, we say “buenos dias” and “hasta luego” to our building manager, Juan, and then I strap Micah in the stroller… and away we go!

We then say “hola, buenos dias” to about a dozen people on our way to school.  There’s Mari, the street-parking guide along with her husband.  There’s Gabriel, Juan, and another friend who sells helium-filled balloons.  There’s the 3-4 valet parking attendants at the restaurant across the street.  Goyo is the guy who sells “super tortas” in front of the bank and then the rest are random people who take notice of Micah in the stroller and flash a friendly smile on their brisk walk to work.

It takes about 20 minutes to walk to school.  I say a few more “hola, buenos dias”s to the teachers and receptionists at the school, kiss Micah, tell him I love him and let the teachers whisk him away.

Now when I pick Micah up from school, the routine is repeated but in reverse.  However, this time, there is an old couple on the street who I presume to be of indigenous origin by the language that they speak.  It’s difficult for me to give money to the poor when I see them on the same exact part of the street during very particular hours, only to not see them there on holidays and off-hours.  It seems a little “iffy” but maybe that’s just me.

In any case, I got tired (or guilty, perhaps?) of ignoring them so one day I decided I would have Micah hand them some money from the stroller.  The purpose of this was three-fold: 1) a few measly pesos from a child seems to be a more acceptable offering than from a grown man, 2) it’s the cute thing to do, and 3) life lessons at the age of 2 seems about right.  The lady with the cup appreciated our small offering, we all shared a smile and proceeded home.  I then affirmed Micah in his willingness to share and told him that this is what we’re supposed to do when we see people in need. 

The next day, the indigenous couple was in the same spot.  Using my “this is iffy” logic, I decided to give them a smile (nothing more) and go our merry way toward home. Besides, we already gave them money– this can’t be a daily thing, can it?  As soon as I passed them, my son yells out, “money, daddy!  money!”  I stopped the stroller, stooped to his level and asked him, “what do you mean son?  You think we should give them money?”  He says, “yeah.” 

I pulled out my wallet, handed him a few pesos and backed up the stroller so that he could deposit the small gift into the lady’s cup again.  Their gratitude was once again, very evident. We smiled and headed home.

The next day, the same thing.  It’s become very clear that my 2-year-old son is not going to let me just walk by these people who clearly have a need.  What I considered a one-time lesson has now become a daily practice.  Even if the teacher doesn’t practice what he preaches on a daily basis, the pupil will not let the opportunities pass.  Touche, my son, touche.

My dream for my children would be that they would be the Best Versions of Us x 1000.  That’s high-level math right there.

It’s no cliche to say that our children often teach us.  They are capable of showing us a way of life that is beautiful, generous, loving, and filled with wonder.

One day, our family will make our way back to the suburbs where the streets are swept daily and the vagabonds are met more on TV than in real life.  For now, I am grateful that we live in the City where the tension to give and serve is propelled with a daily opportunity.  It’s uncomfortable, it’s trying, and it is a test of what we really believe and practice. 

I’m thankful that at age 2, Micah gets it.  It’s not rocket science, it’s not a judgment call, it’s not a curriculum you study for weeks with a small group; it is a here and now.  “Money, Daddy!  Money!”  You have money, they don’t.  It’s simple, isn’t it?  Drop it in their cup and love them in simple, real ways… Duh!

Thanks, buddy.  You put your daddy to shame but you also make me unbelievably proud. 

How ’bout that?  My 2 year-old advocate for the poor, folks.

A Survival Guide to the Rapture (in case you are left behind)

Y’all better get your life in order because according to this 89 year-old prophet, Doomsday is (once again) upon us!  In fact, it’s happening TOMORROW, May 21, 2011.

What does this mean?  It means that in case you’re left behind, you’re gonna need a pretty hefty contingency plan to hold you over until you can join the rest of us in heaven, the hard way.  (Spoiler alert: a guillotine may be involved here but trust me, it’s better than the other eternal option.)

Because I am a loving, compassionate and helpful person, I thought I’d leave a basic survivors guide for those of you who missed the initial wave of beam-ups.  <hit the chorus of “Rocketeer” by Far East Movement here>

Here’s what you need to know.  Follow these instructions carefully and you’ll be alright:

1.  Say No to the Tattoo

There’s gonna be this world-wide campaign to centralize and distribute resources like food, gas, and water.  It’s going to sound a lot like communism except the way Oprah explains it to you on her new Global Television Network will make it seem like it’s actually going to work.  Everyone in her studio audience (as well as the entire world) will receive a special bar-code tattoo and will begin to receive everything for free!  How can this be a bad thing, you ask?  Trust me on this one.  Say no to the tattoo.  If you want a second chance at heaven, say no to the tattoo and follow the rest of my instructions.

2.  You Will Eventually Need a Hiding Place

The officials who come knocking on your door daily to offer you the barcode tattoo will one day stop being so nice and you will eventually realize that you don’t have a choice.  Before it gets to that point, find a good hiding spot that will shield you from the onslaught of destruction as well as provide you with daily nutrients and entertainment.  The only such place that exists on earth is Costco. 

First of all, every single Costco is built like an above-ground bomb shelter.  You will be safe from any and all missile and grenade attacks, especially if you’re able to locate where Bruno Mars plans to finally make good on his promise to his ungrateful girlfriend.  Secondly and most importantly, you will have all the food you will ever need at your finger tips.  During normal business hours, hit up the free samples to hold you over until it’s closing time.  When the staff starts wrapping things up, climb into one of those tree-house/swing-set things that they have constructed on display and wait till the lights are out.  Once everyone is gone, you can use the grills to cook up the endless slabs of meat (I recommend the tri-tip), you can play some X-Box Kinect on the latest Samsung 3D LCD, and you have all the Kirkland bathroom tissue you will ever need.  You are set.  For a little while.  You’re going to need to find some people . . .

3.  Find a Member of the “Remnant” (or whatever they will call themselves)

You might need to go on Twitter and search #POTSC to find out who was intentionally left on earth by God to help people find their way to heaven, second-chance style.  These people will help you navigate your way to the promised land, even as the world around you is crashing and free food is being distributed like a never-ending Karl Marx tribute.  They will explain to you why you were left behind, why the bar code tattoo needs to be avoided, what you need to do to join the rest of us, and why there are still Televangelists on TV every late-night.

4.  Get Ready to Die

This is the part I warned you about but if you follow through to the end, you’ll be able to party like it’s 1999 in year 0001, and year 0001 in 1999.  It’s gonna be awesome.

For a little while after the rapture, everything’s gonna seem cool and there will be parties and rumors of world-wide peace.  Whatever Steve Jobs tells you at this time, however, will only be short-lasting and a little deceptive.  The period where it gets crazy and violent will be the true test.  You can endure this time of “trials and tribulations” and do whatever it takes by hopping from Costco to Costco but eventually, the barcode tattoo artists are going to find you.  It’s gonna get pretty intense and they’re gonna be like, “Dude, it’s either the tattoo or your head, man.”

You’re gonna say “that’s a bit extreme, don’t you think?  Just take a finger and let’s call it even.”

To which they’ll say, “shut-up, man.  What will it be?”

At that point, you look them in the eye and say, “this world has nothing for me, homies.  Take my head.”

Now, that’s gangsta.  And that’s how you survive life during and after the rapture.

What other survival tips can you think of? 

Unto Us a Child is Born (and thus, a truth)

This past Friday, May 6, 2011 my daughter was born weighing just over 6 lbs! She is a tiny bundle of joy and we couldn’t be happier!

As she sleeps, sleeps, sleeps, eats, sleeps, sleeps, poos, sleeps, pees, sleeps, sleeps, eats, and sleeps… one phrase keeps surfacing out of my mouth over and over again.

She’s amazing. 

Amazing.

Amazing?!

How can anything that does just about nothing be considered amazing?

I don’t know.  This is the mystery and beauty of a new life.  Something within me is stirred to a place of wonder, awe, gratitude, peace, giddyness, and joy —

All from staring at a newborn who’s only job description right now is to simply be

Maybe this is just a little bit too simplistic (or too profound?!) but I think that’s a task in life I need to embrace every once in a while: to just be.

When I am who I am (or as Popeye would say, I Yam What I Yam), I think the universe rejoices.

It’s good to know that even on our days (or seasons) of doing seemingly nothing but eat, sleep, and s—, our mere existence has brought a smile to someone’s face– whether it be our parents, lovers, or God.

I think I know a little more of what it means when I hear that a Father rejoices over me, sings over me, and loves me just as I am.  I suppose it takes one to know one.

How is it that such little things can point us to such great truth and beauty?

Osama is Dead. Celebrate good times?

Maybe you’re like me and you first heard about Osama Bin Laden’s death through Facebook, Twitter, or CNN . . . and if you’re really like me, you probably felt a strange sense of relief and retribution.  His death felt like good news. Initially.

But maybe you’re like me now and you’re wondering, wait a minute…why is this really good news? 

Because the person we say was responsible for the death of thousands on September 11, 2001 is now dead and somehow this makes everything better? 

Through his death, will the thousands of lives lost on that horrible day be restored?  Easter resurrection style?

Will the lives of the families who lost loved ones be that much better now?

Is this somehow the end of terrorism?

Is the ever-expanding, ever-autonomous Al Qaeda network suddenly going to call it quits now that their fearless leader is gone?

If the answer to all the questions above are “Yes,” then maybe it is time to celebrate.

Unfortunately, I can confidently say that all the answers to the questions are “No.” 

As long as this is the case, I don’t know what all this celebration is about. . .

. . . Especially when so many of us talk about and value love, grace, forgiveness, peace, and compassion. 

Yes, he did unspeakably wicked things and he needed to be captured and brought to justice.

But at the end of the day, we are celebrating a murder.  And it’s just a little unsettling to me.

So, why are you celebrating?  Help me understand, will ya?