Monday, March 24, 2014

Money, Honor and Power, Which One Do You Want?

The author of an article in Bible & Life reminisces about a friend  he knew from childhood.  He received a telephone call from him recently, inviting him to his office; he was now, he explained, a lawyer serving the poor. The office was small and simply furnished,   bustling with many of the poor who were looking for advice. And he looked well and contented, a far cry from the time he had last seen him studying for the government exams.

Both of them had gone to college. His friend went to  engineering school  and after graduation joined a construction company. He was the pride of his family. In those days being the son of a poor farmer who ended up with a  big pay check was the sign to  his neighborhood of success. Although his desire was to become a lawyer, his family felt it was necessary to have technical training to guarantee a bright future and the means to take care of the family. So he abandoned his dream  and became an engineer.

During the rough times in Korea he was sent to Saudi  by his construction company. His friend mentions that with his introspective and academic disposition the construction site  was not a comfortable place for him to be.  On one of his trips home he told his parents of his desire of going on to study for the government examinations to be a lawyer. This was a bombshell, which turned  everything upside down in the home. The mother went to his childhood friend to ask him for help to dissuade her son from the move. His friend, the author of the article, knew that he always dreamed of being a  judge and although he understood the feelings of the mother, inside he was cheering him on.

They met and went out to eat. It was not the same person he knew from the past, the sleek and neat individual was missing and he was dressed in trainers and sneakers. His hands shook and the soup dribbled from his mouth. His left eyelid  trembled and he found it difficult to look his friend in the face and his speech was affected. The author writes that his friend was a nervous wreck and needed to be treated. It was not something he could speak to his mother about nor would he  ask him to give up his studies.

From that time on he would go to Seoul once a month and they would eat and go out to a movie. As children they recalled the time they went to four movies in one day. He was a great fan of movies and his friend thought this would be a great way to have him relax. Fortunately the following year he passed the exam and did go on to be a judge. His mother was dreaming now of her son in the back seat of a sedan with a driver able to make commands to the world. She was elated but it was all to change. He was implicated in a case in which bribes were taken and given. He made a mistake and freely resigned his position. His friend heard this while he was working with the poor in a public health  facility in the Philippines. The engineer turned lawyer did make amends for his mistake and the shame and  anguish that he had to deal with by giving his life to help the poor with his knowledge of law and society.

The author concludes the article with a remembrance of the time in Sunday School class when  they both said they would have nothing to do with riches, honor and power. He quotes his friend: "He saw the flower coming down the hill. The flower he hadn't seen going up the hill." In the future when it comes time  to write about the one-time judge there will be more than a few lines referring to  his involvement with the giving and taking of bribes.  Money, honor and power, which one do you want?

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