“What do you think about living here?”
An international student from Asia and I were walking around the university pond the other day when she asked me this.
“It’s okay. I feel out of place and a bit unwelcomed,” I studdered a bit.
“Independence is the word. People are independent here. In my country that is looked down upon,” she responded.
Over teeth shuddering in the winter wind, we shared conversations about Asia: the villages, the community, and the family.
My friend asked me to describe my home state. “They are street friend,” I said. “They are much more likely to ask someone for assistance than people are here.”
“But they are still rude,” my friend insisted. “Americans are rude. I know by now.”
Then she narrated many exchanges with Americans. One story particularly stood out.
Once, when she was still in Asia, she was doing a Bible camp. One day a Turkish student asked an American student if she could borrow his computer. The American student said no.
“He said no,” my friend said, “In my country, that is so rude.”
I really did not need to ask my friend to clarify. I knew what she meant. Where I lived in SE Asia, speaking directly was considered rude. It’s hurtful to speak directly.
Instead, in Asia if we don’t want someone to use the computer, we might say state less-than the obvious.
“I am sorry, I need the computer.” Or something of the sort.
The thought is that people can usually find what they want without speaking so directly and harsh. There are boundaries that these particular Asian cultures have that we don’t generally have in the west.
And right there in the cold, my heart got tight, and it clicked why I’m disillusioned by the internet.
It’s not so much the truth that bothers me, but it’s how we say it.
I’m so dang tired. Everything is a debate. So much is calling out B.S., and using cussing, attacks, and name calling. Even when the name calling stays at home, it’s still a lot of argumentation, often without corresponding with those we are critiquing.
It strikes me that Jesus definitely stood up for the oppressed and abused. He definitely believed that the small things could confound the wise, and he dined with the most messy, exploited, and rejected.
But it’s also interesting that on the cross, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Somehow both of these are true in God’s kingdom. Somehow he is angry at abusers, and stands up for the weak. Somehow God is able to erase the lines the legalists draw and replace them with “let he without sin caste the first stone.”
And yet in his most vulnerable moments, he is still able cry out, “forgive them.”
And somehow in our blunt world, I think this is missing. See, we should stand up for the abused and exploited, but it should be accompanied with emotions. And it’s good to be angry, and pissed off, but, but
There is also a time where we weep and pray.
The internet is too blunt sometimes, but when I talked to my friend, I realized it’s not the problem of the internet. It’s not even the problem of public information.
We just lack manners sometimes.
Or maybe we’ve forgotten how to feel anything but anger. I don’t know.
Father, forgive us. We know not what we do.