It was a strange thing when I found myself in a position where I was driving home in silence and the urge to eat hit me, but the hour was just advanced enough for most stores to close their doors to the public. Immediately, my mind started racing to various fast food options. Burger King was the first one that came to mind, perhaps to the dismay of the general public. Yes, I am aware that their food may very well be microwaved. Yes, I know that there are other fast food restaurants in the area. But, Burger King has established itself amidst my formative memories as one of the first establishments I was able to independently travel to and sit down in. As I started driving down the road to Burger King, Kariya, a hot-pot, Korean BBQ fusion (wow that’s a lot of commas), lit my decision-making up with its neon signs. Despite being supremely mediocre, it seemed interesting to try and eat there alone without feeling uncomfortable (due to the other patrons indubitably preconceiving notions about me and my life). I performed a textbook ninety degree turn into the plaza and parked. I told the hostess that I would be forming a party of one, which prompted her to inform me that single parties are to be made more miserable with an additional charge of five dollars. I was not that desperate to see both my spirits and my funds dwindle into smoke, so I politely (I hope) retreated back to my vehicle. Isn’t it enough of a price to eat alone in a restaurant stocked to the brim with liveliness and camaraderie? The aghast hole (read: gaping) that I reckoned to be my hunger was reconfigured in this moment of indignant self-awareness. I wasn’t hungry; I was lonely. In that moment, I realized: Lord, I am the woman at the well. There is a hole in me that I presently had been trying to fill with food, and it’s no wonder it wasn’t working. I know what caused the hole, but I hadn’t remembered or thought about its existence for a while until tonight. Maybe it was the silence. I was far too tired to commit to furthering the line of thought, so I settled on getting some Del Taco since I had already driven back and forth no further than five miles of my house. Lord, I need healing, and I’m sorry for not following Your prescription. I know what I’m supposed to do to fill the hole, but I need more time I guess. Forgive me.
A crashing wave upon a stone,
centered beyond its usual home.
Alone, the wind guides waves
back to shore so they can tell a poem.
What legends must they tell?
What fable is so pressing?
Beyond the horizon is a
return that needs addressing.
Swiftly, Lord, You are coming;
with love, You’ve waited all these years.
The stones of Your creation
are crying out, stained with ocean tears.
Oceans deeper than our fathoms,
Forests fuller than our dreams
speak to Your imagination
Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.
Forgive us when we are
silent about Your glory.
Make us each a crying stone
that speaks, in part, Your story.
May Your fullness reigns in us,
bearing through us some new fruit;
May You deeply speak to us,
sharing with us Your whole truth.
Though the mountains may now stand,
they will fall when waves have finished
telling of Your ceaseless mercy and
glory no more diminished.
With the shootings lately of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas policemen, a burden has slowly been growing in my heart. I am not the most sympathetic person ever, but the chaos has gotten to a point where it’s inescapable; social media is absolutely overrun by the latest shooting, anti-police sentiments, and calls for gun control. Now, I will be the first person to admit that I have not taken enough of a stake in what has been going on in the #blacklivesmatter movement because I was simply never comfortable with making a statement regarding something which I had so little experience with and knowledge about. I was concerned more with how comfortable I was than with reaching out to the black community and learning about their struggle and trying to bear their pain. I sighed and remained inactive along with some of my peers regarding “social justice warriors,” believing their fight to be futile. For that, I apologize. Today, the Lord has made it simply impossible to remain silent regarding this issue.
(In case this runs too long, which I fully expect to do, I’ll be putting the main points in bold.)
Before I say anything, I’d like to lay down some groundwork for where I’m speaking from; understanding culture is a tremendously overlooked part of the increasingly hostile dialogue in this issue, so forgive me for digressing a bit. Now, I will not speak with the passion of my brothers and sisters struggling for some sign of reform because I am a part of the so-called “model minority” trying to understand the plight of simple minority. I am not fueled by a history of police abuse and senseless murders. My people are quiet and submissive to authorities, and it is a greater virtue to be concerned with one’s own well-being above being involved with so volatile a movement that has seemingly “nothing to do with me.” It is not uncommon to lock our car doors when we see black or Mexican people walking around; it is equally as unsurprising when we treat the homeless with distrust and disgust. However, another part of my cultural identity is that of a Christian, and the God who I love sent His Son, who will not break the bruised reed nor put out the smoldering wick, to die for us in love; in faithfulness, He will bring forth justice (Isaiah 42:3). This identity flies in the face of my social-historical identity because this identity sees the black person, the Mexican person, the downtrodden as a brother and a friend, and there is a desire for reconciliation and deeper understanding of their story to see how God receives glory in the midst of trial. Jesus’s heart breaks for Alton Sterling, for Philando Castile, and for the Dallas policemen, just to mention a few; His heart breaks for you and me too when we riot, when we kill, and when we stay silent through it all. Because of the love of the Savior, I am moved to speak out regarding this issue.
But where do I start? It seems like choosing a side to address would be subconsciously identifying with one side of the issue more than the other, and so I will only speak to myself and what I believe people of my culture can do. As the Asian-American community, we have historically been labeled “the model minority;” we’re the minority community that doesn’t cause trouble because we basically have lived in such a way that suggests a willing assimilation into how the white man lives – and that might not even be our fault. In fact, living like the white man was a fantastic motivator for many of our ancestors to get here by boat and try to make a living. However, now that we’ve been established as a community with some weight to it, what are we going to do moving forward? We can choose to bow out of the present struggle like we’ve done in the past, and no one would be surprised, but I believe the Asian-American community needs to surprise people by being more minority and less model. This is not a call to riot, to kill, to lose control; this is a call for us to be more actively involved in dealing with the injustices that we see all around us. We ought to be beyond the attitudes of our culture that make allowances for casual racism; we’re better than that now, or at least we should be. So why don’t we do anything? As a community, we are well-educated, well-mannered by culture, and more sensitive than we’d allow in our private households. If we speak, will the white community truly view us with the same misgivings as they might with the black community? We are now placed in a position where we have the ability to become a true bridge between communities, yet we choose to stand more on one side of America at a time when America needs more than ever to be deeply connected. It’s time we, as the “model minority,” identify with our black brothers and sisters and say, yes, their problem is our problem, and we won’t stand aside quietly while they are continually dealt cultural injustices that have only accumulated through time. We have not had the same violent history with the white community, and this may very well be our strength and contribution to the #blacklivesmatter movement going forwards; we can reinforce the voices that need to be heard instead of drowning them out with our passivity.
There is no doubt that the hurt the black community has endured is unjust, but it is also true that the rights of the Dallas policemen to live were unnecessarily taken from them. This pain has escalated beyond affecting just a single community, and if we do not prevent the monstrous desire for vengeance from slaking its thirst, we may find ourselves uncomfortably well-acquainted with the violence and death that it brings in its wake. It seems cliché, yet it is perhaps the hardest thing to live out in light of the latest events, and so I ask: can we let love be genuine? Will we abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good, or will we entertain the thoughts of evil for the sake of pursuing our perceived good? Is it even possible for us to love one another with brotherly affection, outdoing one another in showing honor despite every vein in our body wanting the other person to intimately, forcefully know our pain? Will we as the Asian-American Christian community continue to be slothful in zeal, or can we be fervent in spirit as we serve the Lord? Are we praying for the strength to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer? Are we each contributing to all the various needs of the saints, seeking to show them hospitality whether it be mourning with them the condition of this world or gently correcting them when they’ve allowed Satan to gain a foothold in their hurt? Let’s bless those who persecute us, blessing them without cursing them. We rejoice with those who rejoice, but in this time, more than ever, let’s weep with those who weep. We ought to live in harmony with one another, being not arrogant in our estimation of others but freely and willingly associating with the lowly and downtrodden, being not wise in our own eyes to the point of being blind to the truth being shared by others. It will be hard, but repay no one evil for evil, but think most about doing what is honorable before everyone, even at the cost of stifling the most violent of passions within us. If it’s still possible, as far as we can control it, let’s live peaceably with all. My beloved brothers and sisters in the black community, I may seem out of place in saying this, but never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” In fact, do the opposite of vengeance and feed your enemy when he is hungry; give him something to drink when he is thirsty for by doing so you heap burning coals on his head. How will he react to your goodwill in the face of tribulation? Finally, let’s not overcome evil by lowering ourselves to more evil, but overcome evil with good. After all, darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
You are all my brothers and sisters, images of God made perfect in the eyes of our heavenly Father, and I love you all. I am still learning about all that has transpired in the drawn-out history of violence, physical and structural, that you have endured, but perhaps you are the only community strong enough to endure it all; on my end, I’ll be doing what I can to help, so that God may be glorified in all of us.
Kevin Durant. My nakama. I really thought that he was going to stay in OKC, but I guess that wasn’t part of his nindou. People around the world felt the waves that crashed into the shores of the NBA when he chose to sign with the Golden State Warriors, and for good reason – basketball as we know it has seemingly been victimized. The devastation to the basketball nation will unite many fans in truth and love to cheer against Team Golden State, who will be popping off again on your favorite team, night by night. This is the New World, and Gol D. State is about to become legendary.
However, upon giving it some more thought, the prospect of having Kevin Durant excites me, but not because I’m going to enjoy seeing him pulling up in blue and gold. What excites me is knowing that the rest of the NBA is changing too; none of the other twenty-nine teams are going to just lay down and die before the Warriors. In fact, with the signings of this years free-agency, basketball fans across the world have entered the New World together. Al Horford on the Celtics. Jeremy Lin in Brooklyn. My personal favorite, Pau Gasol in San Antonio (Go Spurs). The teams we watch next year are already profoundly different; there will be no more Kobe (yes, I had to remind you) and the Lakers actually seem to have a fairly exciting, young future.
So, maybe we should all thank Kevin Durant. Thank him for being so much a part of OKC that we never thought he’d leave OKC, for the charity work he’s done there during his time there, for the NBA narratives of whether or not he’ll ever win a ring with Russ to the new narratives of how many rings will he win really? We ought to thank him for showing us that this really is the New World, where Dirk might be seen as a fool for not taking his talents to Golden State as well and get the rings his legacy deserves. Thank you, Kevin Durant, for all that you’ve done and all that you’re continuing to do because we are about to witness a powerfully competitive NBA where the only way to win will not be couched solely in having a “death lineup,” but in versatility of talent and creative coaching (here’s to you, Pop). Just because the rest of the NBA could not sign KD does not mean that they’re just going to stop wanting to win. We may finally see the East begin to step up a little knowing how tremendous one of its final opponents is (because you can never count the Spurs out). Kevin Durant, I will enjoy rooting against your new team, and if you’re in the Finals, I may be rooting for the second-best runner in a two-man race, but hey – if you can go to Golden State, anything can happen.