In Japan many of my Korean-Japanese friends were bullied or made fun of when they were younger because they looked or spoke differently. Some later got into gangs, the Japanese mafia or became loan sharks (‘Chinpira’ チンピラ・’Yakuza’ ヤクザ ・’Sarakin’ サラ金) to regain a sense of confidence and control or get revenge physically or financially on those who had hurt them in the past. In America during WWII, most Japanese Americans were put into internment camps partially to protect them because they were ‘seen’ as the enemy by the general public and partially to prevent them from committing domestic acts of terrorism, while most German Americans were allowed to live freely because they ‘looked’ like most other Americans (Caucasian), even though many were harassed or hated anyway if they had German accents or names.
In Hawaii, sometimes white people (haole) are teased or discriminated against by people with darker skin. According to Wikipedia, “‘Kill Haole Day’ is the term for bullying incidents that occurred in most Hawaiian schools, when non-white students would harass and attack white students. The incidents saw their height in the late 1970s” and “on December 31, 2008, the U.S. Department of Education released a report that concluded there was ‘substantial evidence that students experienced racially and sexually derogatory violence and name-calling on nearly a daily basis on school buses, at school bus stops, in school hallways and other areas of the school.'” While mixed ethnicity or ‘hapa’ people are more accepted there, sometimes in other countries they don’t feel they truly fit in to or are accepted by either/any culture. In India, the discriminatory class caste system has been outlawed since 1955, but is still informally in place. ‘In some rural areas of the country, marrying or associating outside of one’s caste is still discouraged. Despite laws that aim to create equality, the caste system continues to have a strong impact on society.’ In countries around the globe, people of differing religions are often hated, discriminated against, put out of business, property destroyed or stolen, jailed and even martyred for their beliefs.
When my family moved off a military base and I started going to civilian school in SoCal in America, on my first day of school during recess a black girl came up to me, ordered me to get off the teeter-totter and called me a racial slur word. Since I had never heard that word before, I asked her what it meant. She got in my face and said, ‘It means you’re trash.’ On the base, color or culture didn’t matter so much as what military rank your mom or dad was. Being a tough military brat, I stood my ground and refused to get off the see-saw. But I will never forget how much it hurt. Many people of African descent have felt that very same sting of ‘racism’. So why do ‘hurt people hurt people’? The sin of unforgiveness plays a huge part in keeping people in bondage long after they have been physically set free. C.S. Lewis said, “Unforgiveness is like taking poison but expecting someone else to die. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
The Bible tells us that we are all one human race, descended from Adam & Eve (Genesis 2), who committed the First Sin (Genesis 3) by disobeying GOD. The First Family in the Bible first became separated further by sin when their son Cain killed his brother Abel. GOD punished Cain by sending him away to a different land (Genesis 4). Later people were divided even more by language and distance when a massive, rebellious part of the post-Flood population was scattered across the earth after trying build the Tower of Babel to Heaven against the will of GOD (Genesis 11), which created major differences in color and cultures within the human race. This ties every ‘race’ into one human body, with the difference being culture on a large scale and personal choices on the individual level.
In Scripture we are also told that as Christians we are aliens, sojourners on this earth (1 Chronicles 29:15). We are encouraged to be in, but not of, this world (John 17:14-16). We’re reminded that we will be hated because they hated Jesus first (John 15:18). And yet, we’re instructed that people should know us by our love (John 13:35). That’s a tall order considering the constant threat of persecution personally, socially, fiscally or physically. In 2017 Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity released its annual report on the persecution of Christians, which found that as many as 90,000 Christians died for their faith in the year 2016 — or one Christian every six minutes. And, of course, we must never forget the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, the World War II genocide of the European Jews, Gypsies, Christians and other enemies of Nazi Germany. ‘Between 1941 and 1945, across German-occupied Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews.’
When you’re treated unfairly it’s easy to want to get revenge, but even with that we’re assured by the LORD, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’ (Romans 12:19). Our war is not against flesh & blood, but principalities of evil (Ephesians 6:12), spiritual satanic forces trying to discourage, harm and destroy our faith, our very lives this side of Heaven. And if, on this earth, our methods of gaining revenge unknowingly – or even knowingly – injures and inflicts wrongdoing on innocent people who have never treated anyone wrong through our own prejudice, it is sheer lunacy to expect and demand a sudden ‘no punch back’ rule for the sake of forwarding a cause. It will only create an atmosphere where, for those who had been trying to live rightly, it doesn’t matter in the end how they behave, because they’ll be blamed for ‘the sins of their father’ anyway. Resentment, ‘re-revenge’ and continuance of the cycle of discrimination is inevitable and peace will be illusive. Love and forgiveness are keys to resolving conflicts among peoples, so caution must be taken when certain people or groups continually stoke the fires of hate, division and revenge.
No matter what country, no matter what society, sinful people will find reasons to hate, divide and discriminate against each other by class or color or culture or religion. At the end of WWII, General Douglas MacArthur said, “If we do not devise some greater and more equitable means of settling disputes among nations, Armageddon will be at out door.” As Christians we know it’s all a sin issue at the core. Only Jesus can heal the deep wounds of division. “And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war (Isaiah 2:4 NASB). So for those who believe, we know that in Heaven every tribe and every nation will eat together from the Tree of Life and there will be no more hate or division or violence or tears – finally and eternally united as one in peace and love. And there will be sin and war no more.
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9 NIV