VALPARAISO— Is this generation the most overrated generation in history, the Rev. Eugene Cho asked an audience of students, faculty, and community members at Valparaiso University as part of their Pathways to Purpose series.
Cho, lead pastor of Quest Church, an urban, multicultural and multi-generational church in Seattle, wrote a book titled "Overrated" on the difference between embracing ideas for change and actually acting for change.
“I often hear that this is the generation that will accomplish something extraordinary, and that makes for good motivational talks, but we may be more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world,” he said.
Infusing his sermon-like talk with concepts from Christianity, humor and personal anecdotes, Cho said Wednesday he sought to encourage his audience to act, not just talk.
Cho discussed his travels to Burma and described seeing graphic photographs of landmine victims displayed in an elementary school as a way to teach children to avoid the weapons.
While there, he said, he asked the leader of a small village about the challenges his people faced, and was told about the low annual salaries of teachers — $40 per year.
“In the year 2017, we need to understand some of the great disparity that exists in the world,” Cho said.
The experience was the impetus for Cho’s foundation of One Day’s Wages, a grassroots movement of people, stories and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty by inviting people to donate, as the name suggests, one day’s wages to sustainable relief efforts.
“In our culture, it’s good to have a dose of perspective. If you’ve eaten at least one or two meals today, you have a roof over your head, and you have clothes on, then you are among the most privileged in the world,” Cho said.
“I’m not diminishing the needs we have, or the needs our neighbors have, but it’s about not just loving the idea of justice, but living justly. We need to translate our ideas into how we live our lives,” he said
Cho also relayed stories of witnessing the injustice and brutality of the sex trade in Thailand, the inhumanity of homelessness in San Francisco and the danger of reducing people to projects, as well as the beauty of humanity.
“You’ve got to care. You’ve got to give a damn. We have to fight against the culture of desensitization. There’s a danger in not going deep, but existing just on the surface,” he said.