We live in a world of technology that intrudes every aspect of our life. When I was a child, I didn’t know what Internet was. I never dreamed of a day when relationships could be formed or deleted at the click of a button. My relationships, good or bad, were the result of my physical interactions at school and around my home. I lived out in the countryside, so friendships were minimal. I was isolated, secluded, practically a hermit. Being shy and fearful of everything didn’t help matters. My world consisted of toads, plumbers, and princesses inside a virtual 8-bit 2-dimensional world. You see, we like to blame the Internet and Facebook for our lack of ability to socialize. The simple truth is, we never learned how to. We learned how to defeat the evil big bully that steals our woman; we learned how to press a bunch of buttons on a controller that made all the hardest challenges become like a 2-piece puzzle. This is the way we’ve treated life–to make things as easy as possible, because it’s just too hard.
While in elementary school. I encountered a bully. I say a bully, because he constantly tried to find ways to beat me up, and I was just as much a monster, if not more. In reality, it was I who made the first mistake. I don’t recall exactly what I said, but I know it offended him. I had asked him perhaps if he was Japanese, or maybe Chinese or Japanese–not knowing it would offend him. At the time, I didn’t know. He was of Chinese descent. I didn’t know then that there has been some historical anomosity between the Japanese and Chinese, based on what they believe about their cultures–although that anomosity varies from person to person. To make matters worse, I never thought about trying to understand his culture, or why he felt this way. I simply felt like he should forgive me if I apologize and meant it (and I did). I remember his words clearly. “That’s not good enough.” And he’s right. It wasn’t, and isn’t. Our friendship was ended, and the next couple years became ever-tormenting days as we never worked things out. Although it’s too late now and I have no idea where he is now, I have thought about patching things up, even though I have no idea how it would go.
Funny thing, though. Whether or not you believe in Jesus, I do. The reason it’s important for me to say that is because after learning about Jesus and God I learned one very important thing: Love; real love, is unconditional. It does not expect things. Even so, I expected. I prayed God would find a way for me to make amends with this boy I had had quarrels with. God answered with screaming shouts of grace, and never gave me what I wanted and what I thought He wanted, but He gave me what He wanted. Many will think that it’s all just coincidence–perhaps it is, but at some point you realize that you’re being changed and you have no idea how it happened.
After college and moving out on my own, I lived in an apartment for several years, where I am still living. Over those years the roommates have shifted a few times. I think I’ve had about 10 roommates, and 6 of them have been from China. One might say, “well you live near a diverse University, it only makes sense” True, but there was never a guarantee that I would live at this apartment at these times under these conditions and that they would also find this apartment at these times. Anyways, the whole point of this is to say that despite my childhood ignorance, I learned that learning is the best form of a healthy relationship. I would consider 2 of those roommates very good friends, and most of the others at least ok friends. Did you know that sending a Christmas gift in a white enveleope can be offensive? Do you know how they celebrate Chinese New Year? Do you know how they have to put up with countless people making fun of their driving, despite the fact that they’re nice enough to offer rides (and by the way, he isn’t a bad driver)? Do you know in addition to sushi and rice, they also like chicken wings? Did you know that the word “they” isn’t even a fair term because THEY are all different? We always say they’re just the same as everyone else, and that is the most false statement in history. they are all different, like you and I are different. This is the message I want to send to you: instead of changing the attitude of a thousand bigots, try focusing on loving one person at a time. Don’t learn about them as if they were some tribe from your history books; instead learn from them as if they were your friend.