5.31.2018

Hiding or Healing

I want to pick up on some musings from last month about the unique role Asian-Americans can play on issues of diversity in America.  Diversity in America, of course, has many facets to it.  But I don't think it's a controversial statement to say that the main stain in our collective history and therefore the area in which we need the most healing is the enslavement of Africans and the ensuing violence that has been visited upon black Americans and black communities since then.  It wasn't that long ago that white people owned black people as a matter of law, and even more recent that white people lynched black people with the support of society.

There are no easy answers to how to promote healing and equity in a nation whose history includes such deep wounds, and I do not pretend to know the best way forward.  But I do know there is no path to healing and equity that does not include acknowledgement of past sins and their present consequences and reverberations.

Which brings us to the state of Christianity in America, and the opportunity Asian-Americans have to promote healing and equity.  I have had the good fortune of being part of congregations that were relatively diverse, not just in racial and ethnic composition but in acknowledging a wide range of perspectives and in actively working to understand and to express and to heal and to reconcile.  That experience is squarely in the middle of most mainstream white churches whose coverage of past wounds is fairly superficial, and many black churches whose worship experience is deeply informed by a shared experience of oppression and deliverance.  This dichotomy parallels a lot of how we handle diversity in this country, which is that some folks may dabble in it but then find it tiresome and messy to stay in, while other folks consider the freedom to opt in and out of race issues a form of privilege that they and their loved ones aren't afforded.

So where will Asian-American Christians find themselves?  Our experience is diverse too, but here I am speaking to the subset of us who are fortunate enough to possess the socio-economic means and societal fluency to have choices as to where we will live, work, worship, and engage.  Will we slide into a comfortable version of the faith, which emphasizes personal morality and social respectability but hides from hard issues of past violence and present disparities?  Or will we choose to learn more about, empathize with, and even take upon ourselves the experience of oppression and pain that so many in this country live?  If we are privileged enough to be able to choose between the two, it matters for our soul what choice we make.  Let us consider the choices made by our God when He put on flesh and dwelt among us, in terms of the people He interacted with, who He broke bread with and healed, and who He rebuked and had confrontation with.  May that, as with all things, be our guide.
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