LOVE YOUR NEIGHBORS… EVEN THE ASIAN ONES
Recently, someone very close to me made a post that genuinely disturbed me. I hadn’t once thought of the effects ones heritage has on this coronavirus scare. My friend shares a classic lineage many gen x’ers can relate to. Her Father was shipped off to fight overseas and her Mother was the local Korean he fell in love with. They came stateside and raised their children with the same love and care afforded to most of us. She was afforded the same education I have and works in the same industry I do.
However, people aren’t afraid to shake my hand.
Asian people make up a decent amount of the population in Garland. We have a bustling community of Vietnamese, Koreans, Chinese and Cambodians who have brought their food, temples and vibrance into the mix. Our children play soccer together. We frequent Phở houses together and, until recently, we’ve widely accepted one another as vital pieces of our local culture. So when I see a friend of mine telling the world “all you have to do to avoid human contact is tell them you’re asian” a small piece of my heart breaks. I think of my first girlfriend, a woman of Filipino descent, who is now working as an RN undoubtedly helping people affected by the same virus causing this racial divide.
I get it. Europeans stepping onto this continent brought a flu that massacred millions of people. Now think about what the next bit of xenophobia did in that scenario. Entire cultures were lost, not because of disease, but because of human nature. While I don’t think we’re to the point of repeating our mistakes from WWII and locking up the Japanese in cages it’s still not okay to treat any of our citizens differently. You aren’t any more likely to catch a virus from a Chinese American than you are an African American. We’re all in this together. Remember?
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
There’s a really great parable in the Bible that I find incredibly fitting. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to convert you and reading this doesn’t make you any more Christian than my reading the Qur’an makes me Muslim. It’s just a really fitting life lesson that drives the message home.
Anyways, Jesus and his disciples were big chilling and spreading the word a bit when a lawyer walks up. Now this man had ill intentions of tripping the Christ up and proving him ignorant. So he spouted off a question hoping to entice a philosophical debate. He said, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Now Jesus was anything but foolish and clearly understood what he was up to. Jesus answered with a question. “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” The lawyer undoubtedly thought a minute before answering but he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus validated the lawyers statement and said, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” At this point the lawyer went full Columbo on the Christ. I can almost see him turning to walk away before pausing, holding one finger up with clear confusion on his face as he turned to face him. ” Just one more question: Who is my neighbor?” (you can read it in your own new york accent. I’ve crossed the line enough with my own paraphrasing)
Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Do I really need to elaborate the point here? No but I will provide some context. The Samaritans and the Judahites(the lawyers tribe) didn’t see eye to eye on anything. They had different versions of the Torah. They even argued over where the Temple to YHWH should be. In fact, Judea invaded Samaria and destroyed their Temple atop Mount Gerizim somewhere around 120 BC. Now probably the most heinous of all crimes, in the eyes of Judea, was the fact Samaritans accepted paganism with open arms. They spiritually coexisted with other belief systems and didn’t force their religion on ANYONE. Jesus, a Galilean somewhere between the two tribes, clearly understood the political climate of the day and answered accordingly. He meant to say treat everyone, sworn enemy or not, with the same care you would want shown to.
Wow. What an amazing spiritual lesson. That parable really puts religion into perspective doesn’t it? What good is religious purity if we will allow our neighbor to suffer through atrocities while we cling to our observance of its principles? We have to do better. Xenophobic tendencies aren’t helping us move forward in a healthy and positive way. In fact, they’ll taint our name and will be remembered well after all this coronavirus nonsense has become a thing of the past.
Remember, we human beings are social creatures who crave love and affection. We thrive on interaction and intimacy. So let’s treat everyone we come in contact with the same respect and dignity we would our own families. Just dance it around in your head a bit. That’s all I got.