I got together with some people from my mission trip this summer and it was great. We really had a blast together this summer, I think. It really was a special group, and it’s sad to me that my interaction with them nowadays rarely lasts more than 10 words. So tonight was very good.
I realized something about myself that really bothered me recently however. I’m sure most of you have read To Kill A Mockingbird. There’s this section where like the old women talk about the mission field and about some lost tribe and how they are all compassionate about them and stuff. I’m sure you remember the point of the book, and the point of that story was how hypocritical they were, how it was so easy for them to love these remote tribes and have compassion on them but they couldn’t do that with the blacks that were right there with them. Total hypocrisy.
I bring this up because in my apartment complex there are a lot of Chinese foreign students. I really mean a lot; it’s crazy how many of them are here. I mean, a significant number on every floor. And what’s disturbed me is how I’ve found myself thinking they are strange or weird. I mean, they talk funny, they sometimes smell really funny, they eat weird things, they look weird, and it’s so easy to just think that they are weird.
And that’s so disturbing to me, because this summer, it’s these very people that all of us wanted to reach out to so much. We wanted to meet these people, get to know them, love them, and show Christ to them. I mean, I still think we thought they were weird, but greater than that was our love for them and our desire to be a part of their lives and stuff. But here, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of just dismissing the exact same type of students as being different and weird.
So what’s the difference? As far as I can figure, it’s just the context. There, everyone is like that, so maybe it’s easier, because there’s no other type of people. But here, you know, it’s America, and they’re a fringe group, so it’s just easier to dismiss them as weird foreign students, because there are so many “normal” Americans around.
Anyway, I’m sure you can recognize the hypocrisy, and it’s just really sad how easy it is to fall into that. I mean, to easily fall into a mindset that you know is wrong when you read about it in To Kill A Mockingbird. When I found myself doing that I was really depressed about it, and I’m really trying to have the same attitude towards the Chinese students around as I did to the ones I met in China.
But it’s harder. So here’s what’s been on my mind; I really want to witness to them the way I did in China. By the way, that’s one cool thing about living in EV, that it’s almost like a continuation of the trip. Honestly, though, I haven’t been that good to talking to people, especially since I moved out for a while. But the couple (literally just a couple) of people I have talked to, the fact that I was in China this summer has been a good conversation starter. But I really gotta get on the ball.
At any rate, it’s difficult to know what the right thing is to do ministry wise. I just don’t know how easy it would be to find a place for a Chinese student fellowship wise. I mean, one on one would be fine, but you know, you need more than that. There’s this great fellowship group, I don’t know the name exactly, but it’s like Chinese Graduate Fellowship or whatever. But it seems clear that their focus outreach wise is both Chinese American and native Chinese graduate students, and that’s just so cool. Because there is such a place for that, and it gives a place where the foreign students can feel more comfortable.
Anyway, on the one hand, I just kind of want to leave Chinese student outreach to them, because it would just be so much more effective than anything I could do, even though I know almost nothing about what that group is. But I feel bad about that too, because, you know, my heart from this summer shouldn’t just be for China, but for the Chinese, and they’re all around me. I don’t want to just do nothing. But it’s like, I don’t know, I don’t know how I could plug them in to whatever I’m involved with. It’s a dilemma.
So this summer we learned to focus our ministry, primarily on English students, because we knew that’s where we would be most fruitful, not that there wasn’t a need anywhere else. So I’m thinking now that even with my heart for the Chinese, perhaps I need to focus on places that will be more fruitful. But I don’t know. Maybe you can enlighten me.
The upshot is I guess just an attitude thing, but I’m really trying not to see foreign students as weird anymore, but really have a true love for them, like this summer. And not just the Chinese students but everyone. Maybe you think it’s lame that all I’m really changing is my attitude towards them, and you’re probably right. But it is a start towards something.
I voted this Tuesday, and it was great. I actually went through all that stuff they sent you and tried to make educated decisions. It’s almost impossible to do that with candidates, though. At any rate, it’s kind of exciting voting, you know, being part of that democratic process. It’s very cool.
Anyway, I found myself looking a lot at the types of people that endorsed positions to help me decide on particular issues. At times, though, it lead to dilemmas. For example, there was one measure that was opposed by David Horowitz, a consumer advocate and host of “Fight Back! with David Horowitz.” I don’t know if this is just a California or Bay Area thing, but I used to watch it from time to time on Saturday late afternoons when all the lame shows that no one watches like Bay Area Backroads is on. But you know, he was working for the consumer, exposing false advertising and things, and he’s on our side. So I trust him. The dilemma was, the measure was supported by Ralph Nader, the more famous consumer advocate. This man is just so noble; if you read about him in The Glory and The Dream, a narrative history of the U.S. from 1932 to 1970-something, this guy is just totally noble. And I trust him too. So it’s hard.
On the local measures it was hilarious, because there were a few where like the pro side would be filled with a bunch of respected people and then there was a single opposition, who was simply listed as Attorney at Law. The same name on several measures. That just killed me. It’s like, did they just hire this guy to play devil’s advocate? Is he really just against everything?
At any rate, I’m really glad we have a democratic system, and I’ve come to appreciate the 2 party system. Well at least having 2 parties is good. Because I think no matter what the issue, it’s important to hear the opposing view, it’s just healthy for politics. I mean, everyone knows how it gets extreme and it sucks, but in principle, it’s a good thing, I think. I started thinking this when reading about Senator Robert Taft during the FDR era. You know, FDR did a lot, and Taft led the Republicans and he basically opposed FDR on everything. And that might sound lame, but the was it was described was very interesting. I mean, he was a very respectable guy, not just frivolous, and I think he challenged everything because everything needs to be challenged. If it’s good enough, it will get through (hopefully) but I like the idea that things need to be challenged. It’s just healthy politically to hear all sides of an issue, even if it’s kind of lame sometimes.