I remembered reading In Order To Live, by Yeonmi Kim, last year. It talks about a girl’s harrowing experience, escaping extreme poverty in North Korea, and then traveling to China, and eventually South Korea to live a blessed life.
She details the horrors that she had to go through in North Korea. Growing up extremely poor. Eating dragonflies. Seeing starving people on the streets just dying. It’s a horrid description. And it makes you truly appreciate the modern conveniences that we are given in our first world nation.
In the book, she eventually describes her dangerous trek through China and eventually getting smuggled into South Korea – a modern and developed nation. There, it feels like all is well. But the third part of the book also highlights the struggles that she deals with in modern life.
About blending into a new nation. Understanding a totally new culture. Educating herself and going to school. And other seemingly simple things like opening up a credit card. Going to the bank. Going to the grocery store. Mundane stuff that we all take for granted and kind of not think too much about.
Yes, coming from North Korea and then adjusting to the modern life is also a difficult adjustment. It is a challenge. And it simply is not something that we should take for granted.
There is difficulty in the modern world as well. Although, it’s nowhere nearly as dangerous as growing up in North Korea, it is still an adjustment. And I can feel for Yeonmi as she navigates the complicated culture of South Korea. Of being looked down upon as an outsider. I guess it’s easy to say that we have it good. Although there are poisons and traps that we can fall into in the modern world as well.
Human beings are fragile. And they can fall into anxiety, depression, or grief, if they are not careful. That’s not to say that those emotions and feelings are not natural. We will all encounter them at some point in life. It’s just that modern life brings with it its own set of complications.
You have to deal with paying the bills. You have to buy groceries. You have to pay your taxes. You have to get a good education. You have to learn skills necessary to be able to thrive in the modern world. There is a lot of preparation and planning that comes with that – especially at a young age.
So, yes, there are struggles and challenges in the modern world and we shouldn’t discount the problems that people face even when they seemingly have it all. The human mind is definitely a complicated machinery, and most people have no idea how to properly control it. Or if there even is a way to control it.
I guess overall, it’s still a blessing to be living in a modern world. To be living in a first world nation. I am not living in the middle of a civil war. I have modern technology, science, and other conveniences at my fingertips. And for that, I am grateful.
Modern life has its perks. To be able to drive a car. To have functioning roads. To have a developed subway system. To have vaccines and medications at your disposal. And, if you live in a city like New York, to have entertainment and leisure everywhere you go at your fingertips. It really is a complete boon, and I am truly thankful for that.
Of course, if someone needs help, and is struggling mentally, that is understandable as well. And it is our responsibility as civilians in the modern world to help our fellow man or woman. To give back to the community, so that life is a little bit less of a burden for someone else.
It’s that type of mentality that can provide us with a little bit of purpose. Because despite all the entertainment, all the modern conveniences, all the scientific breakthroughs in this world, people will still encounter problems and struggles mentally. No one is 100% out in the clear.
That is life. Regardless of whether we’re living in a third world nation or a first world nation. Regardless of whether we are in South Korea or North Korea. I guess when you’re living in extreme poverty, life is simpler. You are focused solely on surviving. Not saying that simple is necessarily better. You are just more focused on one thing and one thing only. And that’s taking care of yourself.
But modern life brings with us so many more options. We have our basic necessities fulfilled in food, water, shelter, and clothing. Now we open ourselves up to so many more possibilities. We start looking for fulfillment and purpose. We start to look for a high-paying job. We start to look for the privileged things that we can’t even dream about if we were growing up in poverty.
And yet, there are many of us who are still struggling with this way of life. There is no clear-cut answer as to why. People still fall thru the cracks. A modern society is still not a perfect society. And it just shows you that problems are inevitable, regardless of where we are in status, economic well-being, or relative health.
That’s life. And that’s okay. We will do our best to make an honest and clean living. We will do our best to help our fellow man and woman. We will do our best to enjoy every moment of this brief life that we’re given. In the modern world, that’s all you can do. So, give yourself a pat on the back for living your life. For being present. For navigating this network that we call the modern world.