I get along with my grandpa pretty well now, while I used to argue with him almost every single day. It seemed as if we could never understand each other and that we had nothing in common. I always thought that my grandfather had fallen behind the century and that we would never overcome the giant generation gap between us. He is a very conservative communist and materialist, and he explicitly despises nearly any kind of indulgence. Whenever he saw me relaxing or hanging out with friends on school nights, he would criticize with me with his sarcastic tone, which extremely bothered me. And according to him, I was supposed to spend all my weekdays focusing on school works and extracurricular courses. I could never understand this at that time. And in fact that was what he did to himself: After retiring as a university professor of politics and philosophy, he never took a day’s rest and spent all his time awake reading and writing. He also found two part time jobs to instruct newly-hired teachers and to supervise the overall education systems of colleges with another group of people. He pissed off every time my mom and grandma persuaded him to really retire and enjoy a normal and peaceful life. ‘I can’t live without working.’, he said. Another conflict we had was our opposite beliefs, since I am more an agnostic person and my opinions mostly resemble subjective idealism. I just couldn’t understand why he firmly denies the existence of divine objects or supernatural phenomenon without any cogent evidence against them.
Luckily this awkward situation was changed when I randomly browsed through pages on my laptop and accidentally read about the background my grandfather grew up with, and that was the time I started to understand his motivations and his struggles. I always knew that my grandpa’s parents passed away when he was a little kid and that he was born in a little town which suffered from poverty. He sold his own apartment to pay for school and used to sleep in classroom at night. But that was all I knew about his childhood. And I hadn’t paid much attention to this until I found an article about people’s lives 65 years ago. According to the paragraphs, at the time when my grandfather was a child, the only way to rewrite one’s destiny and to get rid of privation was to pass a test and attend college in big cities, which was unimaginably difficult for my grandpa because of the undeveloped educational system in that small town. And then I remembered that my grandfather was the only child among all his siblings to leave that town and to enjoy life in a big city as a college professor. I suddenly realized that the reason why he worked so incredibly hard was that he possessed an ingrained belief that the only way to change one’s destiny was through intense studying and working. And he kept this belief unconsciously till today, even though he already lives an abundant life. This also explained why he never doubted his belief in materialism. Because he realized as a little kid that the only person he could depend on was himself and that the only ‘divine force’ he was able to rely on was his personal efforts.
Out of curiosity I typed his name on the page and was only too surprised to find some of his reviews and comments about books. He discreetly analyzes the theories of philosophy and politics through these articles, and his passion and intelligence were thoroughly conveyed through those powerful words. Recalling his obsession with books and writings everyday, I was so moved by his passion about academic pursuit and career. And simultaneously I understood that I don’t have to agree with all his points, but only his perseverance and passion were enough to receive sincere respect.