On Smiling Korean

By Dave Henderson

Col Blake: (smiling; says to lady whose baby he is holding) “You sure have a beautiful baby boy here ma’am”

(The Korean lady proudly smiles and nods. No verbal response.)

Col Blake: (to Radar) “Does she understand English Radar?”

Radar: “No sir.”

(Blake’s face drops.)

Radar: (smiling) “Its a good thing you smile Korean sir”……

So ended one of my favorite episodes of my favoritie television show, M*A*S*H. Colonel Henry Blake is battling the inner turmoil of dealing with the joy of hearing the news of the birth of his son in Bloomington, Illinois; and the bitterness of missing the event due to the ongoing war in Korea. Radar; the sensitive soul that he is, arranges for Blake to have a chance to hold the baby boy of a local Korean lady. Blake is moved to tears in one of my favorite television scenes of all time (I am moved to tears even as I type).

(Note: I am such a M*A*S*H-oholic; that even 5 years after the fact, instead of being caught up with the question of “Who Shot J.R.?”; I was still bitterly struggling with the question of “how could they let Blake get shot down before he got to go home and see his baby boy!”. If you dont get it, dont worry. You would have to be a M*A*S*H-oholic. But I digress…)

A couple of years ago I sat in a terminal at the DFW airport awaiting an incoming flight. Most everyone has done such. Typical to all such scenarios were the surroundings: A coffee shop; newspaper stands; people seated throughout a large room anxiously awaiting the arrival of their loved ones; an overhead board updating the status of the various flights. Typical to all such scenarios were the activities: People constantly shifting to regain circulation due to the uncomfortable chairs; standing; stretching; yawning; looking at watches every minute; looking at the overhead board every minute. Typical airport terminal. There was something; however, that was unique about this particular airport experience. Unique at least for me. This was my first ever experience at awaiting an International flight.

Aside from the obvious matters of intensified security concerns by airport personnel, I found awaiting an International flight to be a most refreshing experience. Perspective is to be gained from feeling like a grain of sand on the beach. And so I did that very day. Most noticeable was the small talk. I could not understand anything I was hearing! Here I sat in an airport just a few miles from Fort Worth (the city of my birth) and from Dallas (the city of my rearing); yet I could not understand a thing that I was hearing. I heard dialects that ranged from Eastern European to Middle Eastern. The words just fell on and off my ears like a rubber ball bouncing off a hardwood floor. The small talk around me were mere sounds with no meaning. Yet, that is not to say that I did not understand what was going on around me…

An elderly lady, whose forehead bore a bright red dot, and who was wearing a long, colorful gown; bounced a dark haired and dark eyed toddler on her lap. She spoke, but I did not understand. But the smile on her face and the laughter from the toddler; these I understood quite well. The fair skinned, blue eyed couple that sat nearby spoke some harsh sounding dialect of a language of which I have no knowledge. Yet, when the fair skinned, blue eyed lady sprinted to embrace an elderly fair skinned, blue eyed couple who came through the doors; and broke down in tears as she embraced them, then the language of love and family ties spoke volumes of highly intelligible concepts that were easily understood and clearly perceived. Such were the scenes I witnessed over the course of an hour or so before my own party arrived (who thankfully, speaks English!). I saw children embracing grandparents, couples kissing, and the elderly being tended to by their own. In each case, I had no clue what these folk were saying to one another. However, the universal language of love in these and other such scenarious I witnessed that day spoke words which proved to be music to my ear….

As I sat in the airport that day, I was witnessing the basic reality of life: People are all the same. There are no exceptions. So far as concerns the basics of life; in other words the concepts that truly matter, ALL PEOPLE are the same. All people love their own. All people want what is best for their loved ones. All people understand the need to tend to the young and the elderly. All people love their families. In the light of such, oh how petty are the issues which are a source of division among the general family of humanity. The term “national interests” is but code for money, land, power, gold, oil, etc, etc. Not a single such commodity is worth the shedding of a single drop of blood, yet the world is ever caught up in a state of collective violence and methodical murder to protect such “interests”. And who is affected by the actions of such? Elderly ladies who wear long gowns and have red dots on their foreheads; dark haired, dark eyed toddlers who sit on their grandmother’s lap, laughing and playing; and all such. Do not be mislead by those who dress different than we; who talk different than we; and who worship different than we: ALL PEOPLE ARE THE SAME!! And all people, ALL PEOPLE; who lose loved ones to acts of violence, be those acts of violence individual or collective, suffer just as you or I would, if we so lost our loved ones…

Perhaps we should consider shooting Korean smiles, instead of guided missiles, at those who SEEM to be different than us…

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