I’ve been obsessing over historical Korean and Chinese dramas lately as one of my learning methods in further understanding the politics of dynasties in East Asian History. For seven whole months, I’ve seen over 10 dramas (4 of them are more than 50 episodes each) accompanied with historical readings in attempt to grasp the realities of political strategies during that time.
It’s mind-boggling to admit that my short-term pursuit of knowledge in the subject has drastically changed the maturity of my political understanding. I have eventually developed empathy towards each historical character; For every royal family member and their relatives, maidens in waiting, scholars, and other influential people from all walks of life – From the internal politics of the palaces to the ordinary people’s struggle to survive within the kingdoms during those times, I ended up crestfallen to the fact that hundreds and thousands of years later, nothing much have changed in society.
Ultimately, the foremost influential culprit is still survival – Which is basically human instinct to sustain a living no matter what the condition of environment provides. Greed and ambition eventually succumb people as their driving forces for further advancement of their power, political standing and societal class.
I’ve come to a genuine realization and acceptance that it may be factually greedy to act animalistic in constant pursuit of survival but human beings really do not have any other choice.
My thoughts suggest that a perfectly harmonious way to live is very idealistic but it stays and ends in the theoretical sense. It sounds quintessential for everyone to submit themselves acting according to virtues of fairness and goodness, but sadly, at some point along the way, people will break free of this philosophical way of living and inevitably put someone else’s fate at stake in attempt to survive and advance their power.
Growing up in a society following an orthodox of Roman Catholic, I was taught to be be good and do good amongst other people; That goodness is the only way to live and hence the path to be rewarded. And so, life has become a reward-driven consciousness for me. Upon studying other beliefs, ten years later, I have come to a realization that the most basic foundation of every ideology present in different historical times are all the same. Imagine a 15-year old innocent and ignorant teenager shocked upon opening her thoughts to the other wonders of the world only to find out that her religion is not only common, but is pretty much very identical to any other beliefs out there.
My whole world turned upside down. Everything that I believed in drastically changed and I found myself lost, astray and I questioned everything. I entered college the following year and out of seven theology subjects, I had one professor who challenged my faith. She stayed in the convent for ten years until she decided to free herself to further seek learning of other beliefs. At the beginning of the semester, she made a bet that she will definitely break our faiths to whatever beliefs we used to have.
It was a very challenging time of my life. I promised myself that I won’t lose to her but I maintained an open mind to seek knowledge while hanging on to the one and only faith that I have. Afterall, my favourite history teacher in high school once said, “A man without religion, is a man without path.” And so I began reading on other philosophies and religions.
Before the semester ended, I began to question myself; Everything that I know and believed appeared to be one big lie; One big conspiracy or political propaganda. It’s eccentric to say that I thought it’s a form of mass hysteria for the government’s way of mind control. From then on, I questioned my way of learning. I picked up my 6th grade Science teacher’s advice again, which is to be very skeptical in comprehending and accepting teachings. From then on, I carefully filtered information and ensured I sort out facts from assumptions and opinions. Until I reached to the point where I questioned facts beings classified as “facts.”
Through this journey, I earned consciousness of my progress in comprehending that all philosophical disciplines and religious doctrines exist not for humans to avoid being astray but to accept to ourselves that life is all about balance and harmony. This may sound cliche and I know that everyone is perfectly aware of this: There are always two sides in a coin. There’s the good and evil, the yin and yang, the light and dark, day and night, the alpha and the omega, and so on. But sometimes, it takes considerable amount time to wholeheartedly accept this factual reality and actually apply it in our lives.
PS This post is such a mess and my thoughts seems to be going in different directions. It may be a definitive example of where I am right now regarding my journey in seeking greater knowledge.