Many Western people live truly lonely lives. Their children leave the home once they turn 18, and the parents may only get to see their faces at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
It almost never happens that the children visit their parents to find out become so old they can no longer take of themselves. At that point, they move into a nursing home. Many Westerners envy the culture of the East. I have heard Western people comment on the merits of the Asian family structure.
"In the East, the grandparents live in the family as the senior members of the family, and it is really wonderful," these people say. "The children respect their old parents. This is how people are supposed to live. What good is it to be lying in a nursing home, not able to see your children, not even knowing what day it is, just staying alive?"
Unfortunately, though, the Eastern family structure that is the object of Westerners' envy is gradually deteriorating. We are abandoning the how they are doing. Once children marry, they live separately from their parents with their spouses. The parents live by themselves until they traditions that have been handed down to us for thousands of years. We have thrown away our traditional clothing, our food, and our family structure. During Korea s annual year-end charity fundraising drives, there is announcement of the number of senior citizens living alone, and the number rises each year. Each time I see such stories in the news, it makes me sad. The family is where families live together. If family members are scattered and the parents are left alone, then that is no longer a family. The extended family system is Korea's beautiful tradition.
I recommend that three generations live together as one family. I do so, not simply because it is a way of maintaining our country's tradition. When a husband and wife have a child, they pass on everything to that child. There is a limit, however, to how much the parents can pass on to a child. The parents represent the present, and the children the future. The grandparents represent the past. So it is only when the grandparents, parents and children live together, that the children can inherit all the fortune of the past and present To love and respect your grandfather is to inherit the history of the past and to learn from the world of the past. The children learn precious wisdom from their parents on how to live in the present, while the parents prepare for the future by loving their children.
The grandfather is in a position to represent God. No matter how intelligent a young man may be, he cannot know all the secrets of this big world. Young people cannot know all the different secrets of life that come to us as we grow older and come to realize through a natural course. This is the reason the grandfather becomes the history of the family. The grandfather is a precious teacher, who passes on to the grandchildren all the wisdom that he has learned during the course of his life through the accumulation of his own experiences.
The world's oldest grandfather is God. So a life of receiving the grandfather's love and of living for the sake of the grandfather is a life of coming to understand God's love and of living for His sake. We need to maintain such a tradition in order to open the secret storehouse of God's Kingdom and receive His treasure of love. Any country that ignores its old people abandons its national character and ignores its roots.
When autumn comes, the chestnut tree gradually loses its moisture, and its leaves begin to fell. The outer shell of the chestnuts fell off, and even the inner shell that surrounds the actual nut dries up. This is the cycle of life. Human beings are the same way. We are born as infants, grow up on the love of our parents, meet a wonderful partner and get married. All this occurs on the chain of life made up of love. In the end, we become like chestnuts becoming dry in the autumn. Old people are not a separate category of people. We all become old. We must not treat old people disrespectfully, no matter how senile they may become.
There is a Korean saying that says, "Anything can be accomplished when there is harmony in the home." When there is peace in the family, everything goes well. The peaceful family is the building block of the Kingdom of Heaven. The family operates on the power of love. If we love the universe as we love our families, then there is nothing to stop us from going anywhere we want. God exists in the center of love, as the Parent of the entire universe. That is why the love in the family will link direcdy to God. When the family is completed in love, the universe will be completed.