Post-election season: Chill, feign patience, rest your fried brain and take the long view | Editor’s Note by Martha Vickery (Fall 2020 issue)
It was frustrating, at least at first, to discover that we would be publishing our print edition not before the election, not after the election, but right smack in the middle of election week.
However, the more I read about how election week would play out, the more I realized that it would not make much difference — publishing the week before the election, the week after, or bang in the middle. Before November 3, it really doesn’t matter what any pundit or poll or media person says. On election night, there will be a lot of shouting, but likely few results to depend on. The week after, we will probably still be waiting for official results of the presidential election, although local and state final tallies may be available.
All those talking heads may as well go home and publish a quarterly newspaper.
Although a lot of people will be saying a lot from now on, and we will continue to endure doomsaying, TV and social media ads, none of it really matters. There’s nothing to do but chill. Wait it out. Pop some popcorn, catch a movie. Stay off social media. Rest our fried brains.
The only thing that matters is the long view. What the future political landscape will look like. What are the prospects ahead for a more common-sense government, and coherent humane policies at home and abroad in 2021 and beyond. Those are the things worth thinking about.
In the quarterly newspaper business, the long view is the only view. There are no news bytes to generate, or news cycle to stay on top of. How we stay busy is by inquiring with interesting people about what they are working on, what they think about important topics, how they are going to get where they are going, and, most interesting to me, what drives them to keep on going.
The term “long view” comes from a story this issue by contributor Seth Martin about his friend, peace activist Christine Ahn. She has been working on the issue of peace and reconciliation in Korea for many years. Her quest took on power and a global reach when she founded WomenCrossDMZ, and in 2015, led 30 global women peace activists from North Korea to South Korea over the Demilitarized Zone in a radical event for peace activism. This spring, Ahn was awarded the 2020 U.S. Peace Prize from the Peace Memorial Foundation in recognition for her decades of work in forging peace.
International policy moves at a snail’s pace most of the time, and in order to endure the years of chipping away at this goal, Ahn explains that she has taken the long view that peace will happen, people will bring down the DMZ. In short, she said with no hesitation, “we will change the world,” and that the job of people who want to change the world is simply to give it our all while we can.
Another hard-worker who got my attention this issue was Jae Hyun Shim who worked for many years on issues related to defunding the Minneapolis Police Department, most of the time very much under the radar. Shim spoke at a political awareness and voting event sponsored in September by the Twin Cities organization Coalition of Asian American Leaders .
Shim self-describes as someone who likes to read things, especially budgets, and someone who has worked in the field of mental health. For years before the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police, the group patiently chipped away at their goal, segregating $1.1 million in 2018 to be diverted to community mental health initiatives.
The long view suddenly became more urgent as the Reclaim the Block initiative was thrust into the spotlight after Floyd’s murder. Even with the backdrop of something so chilling demanding action, changing a bureaucracy will continue to require boring meetings, poring over columns of numbers, and hard hours making a complex subject accessible for less patient constituents, a kind of work Shim also spends time on. The long view is often the hard view, as Christine Ahn says.
Also in this issue, a national lobbying group that has existed under a few different names, but as Adoptees for Justice since 2018, worked since before 2015 to get a bill for universal adoptee citizenship to a vote in Congress. The bill, which has had its ups and downs, depending on the mood of Congress on immigration reform, finally has enough co-sponsors to be put before the Judiciary Committee in preparation for a vote next year. In short, it looks like a bill to make automatic and universal citizenship for all inter-country adoptees will soon be the law of the land.
It will also mean that adoptees like Adam Crapser, a Korean adoptee father of two, who was deported to South Korea in 2016, will be able to come home. So will about 30 other adoptees deported to 18 countries. It is a monumental accomplishment that will reverberate into the future for thousands of adoptees nationwide.
Korean Quarterly has also taken the long view towards its own budget in this year of unpleasant pandemic surprises. In a regular year, KQ’s advertising revenue comes from restaurants, events, services, theater, and all the wonderful (and sadly absent) things we promote because we love to get together in these Twin Cities. Many advertisers pulled ads due to nothing to advertise —- others who are still going have stayed with us, and we appreciate all of you so much.
It has been a long and bumpy road trip in 2020 for all of us, and our end-of-year funding appeal is even more meaningful this year, because we cannot replace donations with anything else. We are leaning on our Minnesota-based Give To The Max Day for our Minnesota supporters particularly, and for others, an email and social media appeal directing donations to our website. Subscribing to the print edition of Korean Quarterly is also another great way to show your support!
If you can afford it, please give a little extra to cover someone who cannot donate this year, or who had to pull their ads. Every donation helps. We want to keep our comprehensive, long view, and fiercely independent journalism going into 2021. There is a lot to report about, and we intend to keep doing it with your help.
The landscape looks better from the long view. On the road ahead, let’s leave 2020 in the rear-view mirror, fix our gaze on that brighter landscape, and keep the faith.
Martha Vickery is a long-time professional journalist and long-time amateur Korea watcher, co-founder of Korean Quarterly, and editor since its founding in 1997. She has raised three now-adult children, two of whom are adopted from Korea, with the help of the Korean American community in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area.