Not Everything is About Race

I was listening to a white man, who is married to a Hispanic woman, share his outrage over racism in 2020.  This man married a native South American – can’t recall which country he said she was from.  Spanish was her first and dominant language.  She had also learned English.  I believe he even said at some point, his wife taught English to others in her home country.

His wife is currently employed in some telephone-based Customer Service role here in the US.  The man had shared that many times customers will complain they can’t understand his wife or that they want to speak to someone who is American.

Of course, the other participants in this conversation were shocked and appalled that such Racism still exists today.

And of course, I didn’t see it that way at all.

I was born in Seoul, Korea.  My family moved to Chicago before I could even talk.  But my parents spoke Korean to me as an infant, and so it is technically my first language.  As a toddler, I started to attend schools in Chicago that were taught in English.  Everything I learned during my developmental years was in English.  So English may not be my first, but it is my dominant, language.  And truth be told, I have a very limited understanding of the Korean language today – my guess would be around a 5th-grade level.

After living in Chicago for over 30 years, my family and I moved to North Texas.  At first, there were some nuances we had to learn about our new environment.  Many people could immediately tell we were not native Texans.  Certain phrases we were accustomed to using in Chicago were met with blank stares.

3 of my boys were born and raised in TX.  As our family grew and we spent more time there, our language adapted – so much so that some of our friends back in Chicago say we definitely have a Southern twang in our speech.

Now that we’ve moved to the Carolinas, I am once again met with some very different accents and local verbal customs.  I can tell you that there’s a very noticeable difference between your typical Georgian accent vs. a central, South Carolinian accent, for example.  There are times that I have to ask someone from some of the more rural areas of SC or Boston or New York or even Chicago to repeat themselves because I can’t make out their accents.

Now, I’m sure that some of them might assume that I look Asian and thus must be a foreigner that hasn’t learned English properly yet.  Does that bother me?  No.  Why should it?

Language, particularly verbal communication, can be very complicated and nuanced.  Regional dialects, accents, slang, colloquialisms — they can all affect the way we share information.  But if you are speaking to someone, trying to solicit information or communicate some direction, IT’S COMPLETELY ON YOU to make sure they can receive and understand you.  The onus is on the speaker to communicate the message clearly to the listener.  Why would anyone think it’s the other way around?

Particularly if you’re in a Customer Service role, your job is to help your customers.  They come to you looking for information, service, instruction, resolution to some problems, and satisfactory care.  If they can’t understand you, that’s a detriment to the company.  The customer has no responsibility to adapt.  They want to serviced.  (Incidentally, this is why government phone support is terrible and can drive you crazy.  It’s because the government usually has a monopoly and could care less if their service is adequate.)

Now someone is going to comment about companies in the US that farm out their customer service to call centers in India and how difficult it is to communicate with some of them.  And I’ll agree that sometimes it is quite difficult.  But I can say the same thing for many native English speakers in the US that obviously barely scraped by with a public high school level education.  That’s not an excuse for either group.  Once again, a poor customer service experience is to the detriment of the hiring company.

My purpose for this blog is not to look down on those who struggle with less than full command of the Queen’s English.  I’m not saying learning English and speaking in an accent that is discernable to your audience is at all easy.  And millions of people in the US get by just fine every day without perfect grammar or diction.

What I am saying is that our hypersensitivity to racism today is making anything we dislike automatically about Race or Prejudice or with Malicious Intent.  Sometimes, if we can be objective, step back, and put ourselves in the other person’s position, we might find that there’s something to the criticism to which we should be paying attention – particularly if you want your business to succeed.

Of all things, Masks?

It’s simply astounding to me that of all the turmoil and disaster that’s taken place over the last 4 months, the height of the internet flame wars today appears to have boiled down to Masks – who’s wearing / not wearing one, what the latest scientists are saying about their efficacy, whether people are even using them properly, why people are being so selfish and dO YOu REaLlY wAnT pEoPLe tO dIE?!?!

And I’ve seen every side of the argument:

  • the countless links to “proof” that masks work (or don’t work) 
  • the spike in positive cases which also seems to correlate neatly with the rise in testing
  • the plummeting rate of mortality (which no one seems to be paying attention to anymore)
  • the guy who has a co-worker whose mother knows someone in her hometown that just died of Coronovirus (who also happened to be involved in a car accident)
  • “news” that bars and trips to the beach must be the reason for the rise in cases while protest and BLM marches are somehow immune

You’ve got Karens calling cops on people going out without masks on.  You’ve also got the entitled snowflakes verbally assaulting (or worse) young employees just trying to enforce their boss’s policies.  (This gem, in particular, makes me laugh and shake my head all at the same time.  Kudos for the Free Market voluntarily sending over $100k in tips to the young man.)

What’s disturbingly clear to me is how little people understand what their Rights are and recognizing when they are being violated.  I’ve written before on the difference between Positive and Negative Rights but also important to understand are Property Rights.  If I own a business, I should be able to set the conditions under which anyone who wants to come into my place needs to respect.  If I want to insist on people wearing a mask before coming into my store, it’s no different than insisting on wearing shoes or shirts.  It’s a condition of entrance.  

At the same time, the Government has no moral authority to dictate a universal mask policy in private places of business, despite what countless Governors and Mayors across the country believe to be their Times to Shine, to flex their authoritarian grip on the common folk.

From a moral perspective, the argument is actually that simple.

Now, of course, all these Kens and Karens are going to be in an uproar over selfish Libertarians that refuse to JUST WEAR THE MASK.  I can’t speak for everyone (and you really should stop doing it yourself) but my family and I personally see Masks as ridiculous as this guy –

 

You’ve probably seen posts about how sneezing with and without a mask on spreads in the open air or over petri dishes. 

Well duh!  Cover your mouth or sneeze into your elbow, just like you were taught in 1st grade, you nasty barbarian.

But if you think your filthy bandana which you’ve been wearing everywhere over your mouth, but under your nose, is somehow keeping the world safe, I’ve got news for you.  That’s now how viruses work.

And I keep saying this over and over.  

If you’re THAT afraid of dying of the Rona – STAY HOME.  Have your groceries and nachos delivered to you.  Be the first on your block to get the vaccine when Big Pharma starts to crank them out like a good little citizen.

If you want to stop racism, start treating people as individuals

On Sunday, I had a lengthy conversation with a friend at our chapel. He is also a police officer, a husband, and a father of 4. He’s been on the front lines during the protests which, fortunately, was pretty quiet and calm here in Charlotte, compared to other states.

One thing we both agreed on right away was that we, as a society, have lost the ability to have a conversation with anyone that doesn’t share our exact opinion or values. Public schools and universities have criminally ingrained the notion into your children that they’re entitled to Safe Spaces to insulate them from hearing opposing viewpoints. (We homeschool our children, so miss me with that statist garbage.)

Everyone, including the most ardent supporters of policeman, agrees that what happened to George Floyd was horrific and wrong. What’s amazing is that social media and protestors can’t see that this is the case.

I have not heard or read ONE person defending Derek Chauvin. Not cops. Not politicians. Even the most Right Wing bobble heads like Rush Limbaugh condemned Chauvin.

My friend told me that one of the protesters approached him, eyes full of tears, while he was holding a line with other officers. The guy asked him if he even thought what Chauvin did was wrong. Despite the instructions they had received not to speak with the protesters to prevent any baiting into escalation, my friend simply replied “Of course I do. Of course it’s a terrible thing what that officer did.”

The relief on that person’s face was indescribable. There was still hope.

In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, there’s been a lot of turmoil and arguing, lines being drawn and allegiances questioned. There’s pressure to stand with ___ or support __. It’s no longer socially acceptable to remain silent anymore. Somehow, the narrative has shifted to blame those not actually perpetrating hate but those who choose not to actively Virtue Signal their disapproval to an indifferent world.

So, here’s the problem with that. I know there are people out there that insist it’s impossible for Whites to be on the receiving end of racism. They will tell you that those in power can’t possibly know what it’s like to be discriminated against based on their race.

But look at what you’re advocating.

In order to fight racially based discrimination, we need to blame an entire race of people, for some crimes that go back generations?

An entire race is privileged?

An entire race are victims?

The idea that you need to segregate in order to fight segregation never made a lick of sense to me. In order to fight evil, you have to become evil. In order to embrace equality, you need to treat people disparately.

Asians, in particular, are often caught in the middle of a confusing hybrid mess. We’re not Black. But we’re not White. We are “the smart” minority so we’re actually discriminated against and held to HIGHER standards than some Whites. At least, that’s the case when it comes to college admissions.

Unless you’re of Chinese decent. Then, you’re a spy and a communist.

Think, for a moment, about the message you’re sending to your children. On the one hand, we’re trying to impress on them the importance of equality for all. But in order to dismantle privilege, your solution is to use coercion against them simply because of the color of their skin.

The fact is that the only way to stop racism is to embrace people as individuals and not allow your prejudices to put them into race-based boxes. That includes Blacks, Whites, Asians, Latinos, and those of mixed race heritage.

Just like cops, there are good cops. There are bad cops. There are saints and criminals that come in all shapes and colors.

Stop creating more racial tensions and divisions by proposing racial “solutions”.

Rest your weary souls


Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)


Another long one.

Last week our company had a call where the market president addressed some of the concerns that have been flooding the news and social media of late.  Several high-level executives were in attendance and shared their feelings and outrage over the killing of George Floyd and their sympathy/support for the resulting protests.

Our company has made a substantial financial commitment to support organizations to fight racial inequality, injustice, and create more opportunities.  Managers also committed to having more open dialogues with employees, providing any emotional health care or counseling as needed, and working with political and local leaders to try and heal the wounds, some of which go very deep for associates in our communities.  One manager shared a recent, appalling incident of racist vandalism he had to endure at his own home, in front of his children and parents.

All of the speakers shared from their hearts but they expressed words that you would expect a high-level executive of a Fortune 100 company to say to their employees — We are outraged.  We stand with you.  We will support you, and we will support our communities and the customers that we serve. We stand united against racism and bigotry.

I genuinely believe some, if not all of the speakers in our meeting, were truly heartbroken and desired to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  And I applaud them for that.

One comment that was made that struck my attention, in particular, came from the market president.  He said that many employees had reached out to him and shared a common theme —

They.    Felt.    Tired.

Tired of the coronavirus.

Tired of working from home.

Tired of not being able to see their friends, family, and co-workers.

Tired from the tragic murder of George Floyd and countless others like him.

Tired from the protesting and rioting.

And perhaps, if I could add . . .

Tired of not being able to trust the news or social media or the latest scientists’ reports or the White House press – having to second guess everything we hear or read.

Tired of the finger-pointing and name-calling and the ever-growing chasm that seems to divide us as a nation.

Tired of having to qualify every tweet or post or thought they have so that no one would think they are racist or unsympathetic to the plights of our neighbors. …

 

There’s an unmistakable feeling in the air that people everywhere are exhausted.  From my group of friends, it’s particularly true for those who are generally the Peacemakers.

If I were to guess, part of this exhaustion comes from having no hope (or at least the fact that it’s become increasingly difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel).  It’s very hard to get up each morning when you don’t have hope, when the world around you is a dark place.

And it’s frustrating.

And you are afraid.

And you feel like everything that was once good is now bad.

In my opinion, we Christians have lost sight of what’s most important in this time of trial.

For those without faith, you are coming to the realization that there is no peace in this world (on its own) because the peace that we are truly seeking is not between warring countries.  It’s not between political parties.  It’s not between one race over another.  It’s not between the rich and the poor. It’s not between those that have good health and those that are sick.

All of these false dichotomies jockey for our attention, for our time, for our emotions, for our energy.   But these troubles will continue to get worse before they get better because we are chasing after the symptoms of a deeper issue of the heart.

The peace that we are ultimately seeking is to be Restored and cleansed from guilt.  The guilt that we carry is, in part, between one another, but ultimately it is rooted in our sin —  our sinful, selfish natures – which separates us from a Holy and Righteous God.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mean to belittle the struggles that we have with one another. There are legitimate grievances and systemic issues that need to be addressed.  There are voices that need to be heard.  There are criminals who need to be brought to justice.

I, most of all, am guilty of getting caught up in these matters.

Eventually, this deeper guilt over our sin haunts us because we realize it won’t go away with time or distance.  We avoid making eye contact with it, try to hide it, bury it, ignore it, anesthetize ourselves from it.  But our guilt still drives us.

The question is how do we get clean from it?  How do we obtain redemption?  Without restoration, without forgiveness, without reconciliation, we walk around on this globe aimlessly, seeking to do ‘good’, to try and make up for the ‘bad’ that we’ve done.

We try to take solace, hoping that if we’re good enough, it makes up for the horrible things that each and every one of us had said or done or laughed at or mocked or criticized or hurt in our life.  “Sure”, we tell ourselves.  “I have my flaws, but I’ve never murdered anyone.”

But if we are honest, there’s very little real comfort in the fact that we’re not cold-blooded mass murderers or that we rank favorably when put up against the worst people in all of human history. 

Surely the bar isn’t set that low.

We will never know if we’ve been good “enough”.  And therein lies the problem of never being able to find peace on our own. 

Because of this uncertainty, our lives become a never-ending source of guilt and pain and remorse and regret.  There are some that will prey on that guilt or even feed it and constantly make us feel like we are worthless.  Sadly, sometimes this message comes from the church.

Still others will try to take our guilt and channel it into anger.  They’ll try to convince us that we really aren’t the ones to blame for our sins, that we ourselves are victims and that the real source of our anger is this group or those people or that country or these corporations.

They’ll try to convince us that by focusing on our anger, we will overcome our guilt. 

It’s easy to harness anger and to rally the masses around its theme because it does not require introspection.   We simply deflect our guilt and point to someone else and say they are worse than us.  Their guilt is worse than ours, and thus, we’re justified in our anger.  And yet if you observe these people closely, it’s as clear as day that their guilt consumes them.  Their rhetoric never points to themselves.  It’s always pointing outward.

 

CONTRAST these leading voices today to the words of Jesus Christ from the verses in Matthew 11:28-30 shared above.  Jesus doesn’t promise us a life of luxury.  He promised to put a yoke on your neck.  But He also promised that it would be used so that He could teach us, bear our burdens right alongside us, and be gentle with us.  And He promised to give us rest.

At the time, the people (Jews and Gentiles alike) were under a heavy burden of political and religious rule from Rome and the Pharisees – the religious leaders of the time.

I imagine many of Christ’s followers were desperately looking for hope.  Some expected Him to take up arms as a glorious general and overthrow the Roman and religious authorities, to take His rightful place on the throne by force.  I imagine some just wanted Him to feed them as He did the 5,000.  And still others — the tax collectors, the harlots, the sick and the lame, the outcasts of society — He loved and pitied them the most.  Through it all, He never changed or watered down His message — Your sins are forgiven.  Go and sin no more.

The religious leaders at the time loved to bury their people with overly complicated rules, restrictions, and a burdensome legal system.  But Jesus made it all very simple.


6But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 22:34-40 (NKJV)

 

Interestingly, many non-Christians love to completely skip the first AND GREATEST commandment from verse 37.  They go right to verse 39 and, in their own backward thinking, believe that loving your neighbor means ‘anything goes’.  This is as far from the truth of the Gospel as you can get.

If we, as Christians, truly love God with all our heart, soul and minds – it would be obvious that our love for our neighbors would manifest itself into wanting to help and encourage them to do the same.

But what is true from these verses is that BOTH are commandments.  We are commanded to Love God and to Love Our Neighbors.  You cannot claim to love God and hate a group of people.  And you cannot truly love your neighbors and ignore the God who creates us both.

When you come to know Jesus Christ, you learn that He was the perfect, spotless, sacrificial Lamb of God.  He had no sin in Him. And yet, He loved you and me enough to take our place, to bear the burden of the punishment for our sins, at the cross.


6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Romans 5:6-11 (NKJV)

If you still reading this, and if you don’t know the peace that comes from Christ — from accepting the free gift of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration that comes by believing on Him — I encourage you to start reading your Bibles.  If you don’t know where to begin, I recommend the Gospel of John.

If you do know Christ, brethren, may I encourage you (and me) to remember that these trials and tribulations are a chance for us to show our Love for God and our Love for our Neighbors?  We should not lose hope so easily.  We should wait on the Lord and renew our strength.


1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:1-5 (NKJV)

and remember to press on toward the goal, to finish well, and keep our eyes on our true citizenship —


12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Philippians 3:12-21 (NKJV)

And lastly – 


12 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

John 14:27 (NKJV)

 

I’m Thankful For You

There’s no shortage of social media coverage of the protests, riots, looting, violence, and the endless finger-pointing. And I’m more guilty than most for jumping into the pool with both feet, dropping a snickers bar, and angering many of my friends. If I had to guess, I’ve probably alienated 75% of my friends to the point where they’re Unfollowing or straight up Blocking me. So if you’re reading this – thanks for hanging in there!

But I’ve been mired in the mud for too long these days. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not calling it quits or promising to turn over a new leaf. For now, it’s time to reflect on the good things.

A couple online conversations these last few days have reminded me how thankful I am for the internet. I’ve written similar thoughts on Fellowship 2.0 and Fellowship 3.0 previously. Guess this would be 4.0?

Most of you Millennials or younger will not remember a time before the internet or cell phones. At best in those days, you could call your friends if you couldn’t get out of the house. If your parents were wealthy, maybe you even had a party line where you could talk with more than one person at a time. But of course, back then you paid by the minute.

But the internet has made it possible for me to make friends with complete strangers from clear across the country whom I never would have otherwise met. We just made a connection. It might have been through blogging or joining a Facebook group or a trading network. But it’s amazing to see how God has put people in my life and for that, I’m truly thankful.

People sharing their ideas, their passions, their struggles, daily victories. With ME. Who am I that you would let me into your life, your heart, and your head? I’ve watched your children grow up. I’ve cheered as you had overcome some struggle or pain. I’ve prayed for you that God would heal your broken hearts and your illnesses.

I know some people criticize we share too much online. Maybe you hate seeing videos of cats or pictures of food or family vacation photos or someone writing about their latest complaint. Me? I take it all in with a grain of salt.

Even in 2020, there are still people out there trying to control the internet – the things we can say, what we can buy, services we can get, and causes we can promote or criticize. I’ve always felt that information and knowledge are worth more than gold. When someone posts some outlandish things online that make your blood boil, you are richer now because you know more about that person’s true nature than you first did. Imagine walking through life thinking that person was someone you trusted or looked up to!

And yet, with all the downside, the internet can be a tremendous vehicle for good. I’ve seen people react to a need — maybe someone is trying to pay for some medical procedure or their car broke down or they lost their job or they can’t get someone to watch their kids while they’re working their second job — and total strangers will come together to support them simply because they can empathize or they want to pay it forward or they want to share the love of Christ that someone had once shared with them.

The unrestricted internet is truly a Free Market of ideas. We exchange thoughts, quips, memes, videos, Live footage, advice, and shared experience with each other. My life is richer because these tell me a lot about YOU.

And for that, I wanted to say “Thank you”.