Posts Tagged With: capacity

Accommodating Hate

Wanted: Suitable accommodations for hate, pride, and self-elevation. Complacent hearts preferred.


Capacity, capacity, capacity. I remember my first encounter with this word. About five years ago, I made my first venture off North America. I had become engrossed with  “culture” and simply had to find a complimenting word to come alongside it for the name of my first blog– the planned place to write about all the big bites of culture I had yet to take. As I dove into the dictionary, I eventually found it:

Capacity:  a:  the potential or suitability for holding, storing, or accommodating 

I knew that I had the storage space inside of me for new cultures and I longed to be suitable and accommodating for something dynamic and good… so thus birthed this blog’s name.

You could fit the word “capacity” into practically any sentence. But this week, I’ve been thinking about how each of our hearts and minds serve as space for holding, storing, or accommodating. The acts of hate, bigotry and racism— a product of stored hate. The words of disdain and shame— hate held and yelled.
But honestly, I believe that the vast majority of us opt out of speaking up, seeking peace and upholding justice and end up choosing complacency. The blind eye and zipped lips that unapologetically looks away– hate being accommodated.

Complacent: “pleased, especially with oneself, advantages or situation; often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; unconcerned.”

The one who is able be complacent must be in a satisfactory situation themselves. And out of this place of unconcern or lack of awareness for the evils going on around them, is carved out an accommodating space for hate. For if not intentionally escorted out, then it is automatically welcomed.

Is it possible, then, that those of us whose lives are generally pleasing, advantageous or at least satisfactory (yes, white, middle-class,  religious folk, that’s me and that’s you), are the ones who are most at risk of being complacent? And if so, with that lack of concern about the pains not directly targeting us, is it possible that we are bettering the accommodations for hate in the world around us?

One’s complacent heart is no better than an affirmation for hate acts itself. In fact, it may be worse… as the lack of acknowledgement pretends the issue itself does not even exist. For even Jesus said, “But what comes from the mouth proceeds from the heart.”

To acknowledge Barack Obama’s tweet earlier this week,

“…People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” -Nelson Mandela

One way people learn to hate is through ignorance and silence. One way people learn to love is through the loud voice of justice and peace being modeled.

Do we have more capacity for hate or for love? For peacemaking or rioting?
Is your city, your church, or your home a suitable storage space for complacency and self-righteousness
or for humility and moving past conditional love?

And as an individual, YOU have capacity. There’s no doubt about it. What sort of accommodations are you offering society?

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A Year to Be Welcomed

As refugees have poured into United States by the thousands and into Sacramento by the hundreds each month, anyone with a voice of advocacy for the immigrant or refugee has begun to speak up and raise their voices, almost in a demanding manner: “Welcome them! Welcome them!”. Politically and sociologically, this could mean one thing, but “Welcome the stranger/sojourner” should mean something far beyond that for the follower of the Jesus.

“Welcome the stranger”, we’ve been saying repetitively for the past few years. And indeed we should and will continue to. But what if first the stranger welcomes us? What then?

Kay and Kevin and their three girls were anticipating delivering a Christmas tree and bringing Christmas gifts to a newly arrived refugee family coming from Turkey. The family img_9299already had a tree, but was so excited for the opportunity to host guests, that the two families came together anyway. Though the language barrier was evident, the families enjoyed tea and fruit together and asked simple questions of each other. Soon enough, the girls became friends with the family’s daughter and went off to play as Ramin, the host father, immediately asked Kay and Kevin if he could tell them his story with the help of a translating friend. Following Ramin’s heart-felt story of recovery from addiction and then journey to America, he and his wife Elika led a time of singing img_9307in their native tongue and playing guitar. Ramin and his son shared their wonderful skills of guitar playing with their new friends as if they had known each other for years. Kay and Kevin expressed their joy and gratitude with words and smiles and told Ramin and Elika how they will never forget this night. It was evident that they were so welcomed in the newer family’s home and that a very mutual blessing was taking place. Their fellowship lasted several hours as they eventually ate a meal together. Upon departure, Kay and Kevin invited Elika and Ramin’s family over to their home the following week. They wholeheartedly accepted.

In Western society, we have a tendency to assume the role of giver. When generosity is a factor, we would generally wish to be on the giving side rather than the receiving side, if given a choice in the matter. Sometimes there is even a sense of shame in receiving the generosity of others.

As a caseworker, transportation assistant, neighbor or just a friend, I’ve been in and out of the homes of local refugees, particularly Afghan refugees, for more than 2 years now and if there is one word that best describes their culture, it is HOSPITALITY.  Whether they arrived on American soil within the past 4 days or established themselves here 10 years ago, you can always anticipate being treated as an honored guest when entering the home of an Afghan.

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This Christmas, Raft Amad and StudentReach asked American families to do more than just deliver a Christmas tree to some refugee families. Instead of the role of Santa Claus, with a jolly posture of giving and going, we asked people if they’d presume the role of recipient, preparing to be welcomed by the family and visit for a while. As we watched these fellowships take place, story after story came back to us about how easy of a connection was made and the gift it was to the American family to be so warmly welcomed in by their refugee neighbors. Seems reversed doesn’t it? Yet this is so very natural.

As we step into 2017, I want to challenge myself and challenge YOU to be willing to be welcomed first. Whether you are the one to initiate or not, regardless of your comparative assets, no matter whose home you are in, will you receive the blessing of hospitality and welcome from your refugee neighbor?
“Welcome! Make yourself at home in this new country” is the unspoken message you send by gratefully receiving their natural gift of hospitality to you. To receive is the best gift you can give anyway.

 

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Capacity for Culture

I believe we all have more capacity for culture than we dare to believe.

…or dare to notice.

It’s that moment that we want to greet a stranger in their native tongue just because we know how to say “hello” in what we’re guessing is their language.

It’s those wandering thoughts that imagine what it’d be like to belong to a different ethnic community other than your own.

It’s the normalcy of seeing various skin colors, hearing multilingual conversations, smelling identifying fragrances and odors all around us and being used to it because the state of your city is diverse.

These are all proofs of the capacity we have, but don’t these observations and thoughts get kept to ourselves most of the time? What if one day you actually boldly greeted a stranger in a different language… What if you intentionally moved to another neighborhood where you were the minority…What if you asked someone what language they were speaking, complimented their clothes or asked them what they were cooking. What if…

Have you ever thought about the benefit that boldness, that intentional move would entail? A new friend? New knowledge? Grown empathy? New questions to wrestle with in your mind?

Get out of your comfort zone and embrace the natural capacity you have for culture.20141020_185736

God did not design humans to cling to their definitions of normal, nor their self-created boundaries, nor their own personal theology, but to cling to each other. And “each other” stretches far beyond your own religious community, your own race, your own political party, your own economic status. Dismiss your social stigmas by first asking yourself what your stigmas are. Who, what, or where are you subconsciously sidestepping with the excuse that you don’t have the gifting, the desire, or the capacity to embrace other cultures.

Ask someone this week what they believe about God, how they feel about the immigration issue, what their story is. And maybe, in return, they will have the opportunity to reach back out and ask you the same thing. What a blessing.
Or maybe, in return, you will begin to learn more about another human being, another culture, and perhaps become an advocate for them or their community in some way shape or form. Jesus stepped off His throne in Heaven and embraced humans here on earth, becoming an advocate for us to God. Why shouldn’t we humbly do the same?

Shaw Bakhir,

Amelia MaySun

 

Categories: General, Raft Amad | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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