The Changing Face of Kindness?
Sometime in the late '70s a man in Pusan, South Korea, found a woman lying on the street unconscious. There was no I.D. of any kind on her (or so he claimed), so he took her to the hospital himself. She didn't appear to be injured, but when she awoke she had no memory of who she was or how she'd gotten there. The hospital was unable to help her recover her memories, so when she was released (read "more or less thrown out") the man who had found her took her to a family he knew in the city. They provided her with lodging and a job so she was at least able to live comfortably. Her case was taken to the local police, but they basically shrugged the whole thing off and offered no help at all. There was nothing for the woman to do but continue as she was for the time being.
The woman's memory never returned, and she remained with the family. Meanwhile, the man who had found her kept visiting her with increasing frequency and intimacy. Finally he told her he had to return to his hometown and invited her to come with him. She had misgivings, mindful that she probably had a family there in Pusan, but he was persistent. He promised to take care of her until her memory recovered. She agreed, and they went to his old homestead in the country together.
They wound up living more or less in a common law marriage for more than twenty years, during which time she gave birth to a son. She recalled that she'd had children before, but her memory of her former life was still lost to her. Finally, however, they hit the snag to end all snags. Their son had reached the age of compulsory military service, but the government required verification of his mother's family background. Since she still had no idea who she was, their case was taken to the police again. This time, with the assistance of computers and the internet, they were able to track down her missing past.
Not only did it turn out that she was married, but her real husband had spent the previous twenty plus years searching desperately for her, refusing to give up hope, while taking care of their three children alone. His life had been more or less wrecked. Needless to say, when word got to him that his long-lost wife had been found, he insisted on meeting her immediately. She and her "second husband" were reluctant, naturally, but they went through with it.
When the real husband and three children first saw her for the first time in more than twenty years they were ecstatic. She, on the other hand, was frightened. All she said was, "I'm sorry! I don't remember any of you!" Then she ran into her "second husband's" arms. Her real husband, seeing that she was obviously happy in her new life, decided then and there to renounce all claim to her. With tears in his eyes...and his son and two daughters freaking out around him...he returned to Pusan.
This apparently happened very recently, and all of Korea is apparently awash in tears over this true-life tale. Everyone is crowing about how kind and loving both the real husband and the second man were. The
It was all I could do to keep from smashing that damned TV. I was positively seething, and I remained so upset afterward that I couldn't sleep last night. I realized long ago that I tend not to think the same way as most people, but I fail to see how that story is "beautiful", "moving", or "heart-warming" in the least. "Romantic"? Don't make me puke!
When I was in elementary school (in the late '70s, which was when the woman was found unconscious...hmmm...) I once had a dream that I still remember clearly. I dreamed that my mother suddenly disappeared. We found her later, but she was engaged to marry another man and claimed not to know us at all. When we begged her to come back, she just said dismissively, "I don't know you. You're not part of my life. Go away." I woke up in tears. I still remember how painful that dream was, and I'm sure that's coloring my opinion here. I feel very sorry for the woman's real husband and the three children. As for that second man...well...let's just say that neither "kind" nor "loving" has any hope of entering the picture.
If that man had had any ounce of common sense, he would have realized there had to be people and places the woman recognized there in Pusan. Therefore, to recover her memory, it only stood to reason that she should have stayed in Pusan. If he really did care for her and want to help her, he should have tried to help her find her real life there in Pusan, not haul her off to his little country home where he would be the only thing she had any chance of recognizing! Of course her memory never recovered! He made damned sure it didn't!
Bottom line: the man never really thought about what was best for the woman at all. His only concern was for what "felt good". He helped her because it "felt good". He befriended her because it "felt good". He became intimate with her because it "felt good". Then he talked her into becoming his happy homemaker in the country because it "felt good". In the process, he more or less hijacked her life and wrecked the lives of her husband and three children all because it "felt good" to him at the time...and in the end it was this self-centered son of a bitch that ended up winning. Somebody help me here: just what the hell is it that I'm supposed to find "beautiful", "moving", or "heart-warming" about this? On the contrary; this is about as cynical as it gets! This is the epitome of the sucky side of human nature! "Romantic"? Do you really want to eat this crockery?!?
It used to be said that real love sometimes hurts. I still believe that for some reason even though it's clearly passe. Nowadays it seems to be the norm to think that everything is okay as long as it feels good. That's what the media says. That's what so many parents say. That's what so many of my educator colleagues say. Love and kindness means everyone feels good.
"Umm...that kid just hides in the corner and never does anything. He's not going to get anywhere that way. Maybe what he needs is a little push..."
"WHAT???!? CAUSE THAT POOR CHILD STRESS??!? HOW CRUEL!!!!!! WE HAVE TO LOVE HIM!!!!"
"Umm...letting him stay a helpless baby all his life is your idea of love?"
"WE HAVE TO BE KIND TO HIM!!!!!"
"Umm...is this your idea of education?"
"IT IS OUR DUTY TO BE KIND TO ALL THE STUDENTS!!!!!"
"Umm...meaning indulging them and not helping them grow?"
"IF THEY ARE HAPPY, THEY WILL GROW!!!!! EVERYONE MUST BE HAPPY!!!"
"Umm...better get a bucket..."
Maybe I need to go back to school to learn what kindness really means. I'm getting seriously confused here...and in need of beer, obviously...