One’s heart moves toward the good without learning from books. This is why Yangmingism emphasizes being aware of and behaving according to such heart or innate knowledge, rather than reading scriptures. Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s comic book “The Waiting” shares a moving story of innate knowledge blossoming from the hurt and the pain.
The comic is about a woman missing her husband and son in the North who were separated from her while taking refuge in the South during the Korean War. She lost them while breastfeeding her daughter. As the war took place over 70 years ago, her waiting is over 70 years old if the waiting can age.
She got remarried to a man whose wife was left in the North. It was mainly because of his four-year-old son, rather than love for him. Thinking about the boy about the same age as her son who would grow up without mother, she wanted to become his mother. It was out of the wish that her son would also find a good stepmother. As they got remarried, the two promised to go back to their previous husband and wife once they go back to the North. The couple had four children of their own over time but the promise has remained unchanged. However, there was no way that they could go back to the North in the divided country.
She was particularly nice to her stepson to the extent that the other four kids were upset at times. Such feelings have not changed even if the stepson became an old man himself. She still chooses clothes for him at a market and pays for his diabetes medicines when receiving money from other children. When the other children bring groceries over to her place, half of them are given to the stepson.
When does such a generous and selfless mind come from? She did not even finish elementary school so it surely did not come from books. Even without learning, she had innate knowledge or ethical nature described in Yangmingism. It didn’t take much for her innate knowledge to boom. It was enough that she was the mother of a kid. She became a mother who is more real than a birth mother to a child who lost his mom.