(Moon, who has been running Denver's CSTS since the beginning tells us why.)
I've been asked many times over the last nine years, why I organize the Denver CSTS screenings. My stock answer is something along the lines of, "I'm a Browncoat," "It's for Joss' birthday," or "Equality Now is a wonderful charity that fights for the rights of women and girls all over the world!" While these statements are true and I always say them with a smile, it's only part of the story that drives me to continue working with CSTS and Equality Now. Personally, I do it for my mother, the strongest and bravest woman I've ever known.
My mother, Sim Chae Yop, was born 1943 in a small fishing village in what we now call South Korea. Back then it was part of the Japanese Empire and life was far from easy under military rule. As the eldest daughter of a large family including 11 siblings, my mother's daily life was consumed with the procurement of food for her brothers and sisters.
At the age of four, she learned to dive off the small row boat her family owned to harvest mussels and scallops from the ocean floor. She spent days hiking the mountains near her home, foraging for fruit and trapping small animals, sometimes with a sibling strapped to her back. She once told me, "The wars were bad, but starving and sickness were worse." She would lose three brothers and four sisters to starvation and disease before she reached adulthood. Two other brothers died during the Korean War and Vietnam.
My mother was never allowed to attend school and to this day is fluent in three languages, Korean, English and Cantonese, but illiterate in all. This never hindered her ability to do math, especially when it came to money. After the Korean War my mother began cooking for a local café and socked away every cent she made. This allowed her to move to Seoul when she turned seventeen, where she worked at a local bar, for the next ten years, that was popular with US servicemen. That's where she met my father, George Tarr, a Sergeant in the US Air Force.
Within a year she would have me, marry my father, and move to the US. As the wife of a serviceman life was hard in the States. My father was often away, stationed in other countries while we were left on various bases around the US. In all we lived in five states and three countries before my dad retired when I was twelve. She didn't drive, had three young children, and couldn't formally work, so she began selling Tupperware and teaching the other wives how to cook Korean food to make extra money. In 1976 she became a US Citizen after passing her citizen test. To this day, it is still her proudest moment and the certificate hangs on her dining room wall.
After my dad retired we moved back to Colorado. We had previously lived there for a year on Lowery Air Force Base and my parents had loved the Denver/Aurora area. Mother said the mountains reminded her of home and there was a large Korean population. My mother went to work at Red Lobster as a prep-cook, worked her way up to Kitchen Manager and retired after twenty-five years. She now spends her days cooking for family, shopping and watching Korean soap operas. A well deserved break, I think.
When I look back over my life, I count myself lucky. I was raised in comfort, with love and support. I never went to bed hungry or scared. I never experienced war, gunshots, nor bombings. I was given a first class education, had first rate medical care and access to a legal system that many around the world will never have. I organize our local screening for the little girl that survived a public stoning for throwing a pot at a Chinese soldier who was ransacking her home. That little girl, is my mom.
"Your action makes a difference. Raise your voice to stop human rights abuses against women and girls." This quote is from Equality Now's website. This is why the CSTS screenings are so important to me. I know first hand that there is suffering, especially for women and children in countries outside the US. Equality Now is dedicated to helping and raising awareness and so am I. Every person in our theater's seats, is a voice saying, "It’s not right! I've got your back!" Every dollar we raise is a middle finger in the face of a corrupt government, dictator, or warlord.
In the end, everyone has their own reasons for why Can't Stop The Serenity is important to them. Why they run them year after year, attend them, spend money out of their own pocket to fund them. The reasons why aren't important in the grand scheme, the end results matter the most. Providing a voice and aid to those that don't have it, that's what really matters. The fact that this issue is close to Joss Whedon's heart, is just chocolatey icing on the protein cake. Continue Reading...