I just got out of class where we watched a video called “Cannibalism Tours.” It was about this group of German tourists who literally went on a tour to a formerly cannibalistic group of villages. The video focused on the relationship of the tourists to the natives. I personally was appalled at the way the tourists treated the natives.
What gives anyone the right to judge another group of society? Sure, it isn’t the same as yours, but that doesn’t mean it is bad. These groups of people who have their own culture, their own ways of life, are seeing their culture be infiltrated by stuck-up, arrogant, wealthy Westerners. Something that I noticed in the video was that very few of the tourists realized that they were invading these people’s lives and were treating the natives as if they were just some side-show at a circus, that the natives were there only to cater to the needs and wants of the tourists. The tourists didn’t realize how obnoxious they were being. I really wanted to see a sequel to this movie–a sequel where the tourists are in the place of the natives.
The tourists weren’t the only one that I was disgusted with. One native described how when missionaries came, the missionaries destroyed all of their sacred, ancient artifacts because they were “of the Devil.” Yes, those items probably were used to worship a god other than Jesus. However, that does not give the missionaries the right to destroy these cultural pieces simply because they don’t understand them and assume automatically that they are evil. Again, I question if the missionaries would have acted differently if they had put themselves in the place of the natives–how would they feel if some strange looking people came in and destroyed their personal belongings and cultural items because the other people thought they were “of the Devil” or evil?
Why do people in the modern world believe that they are better than the rest of the world, solely because we are more “cultured,” more wealthy, more self-centered, etc.? Where does this right to judge others come from? I seriously do not understand that. How is it that our society deems us more “valuable” than people who live in jungles, simply because we are wealthy? What right do we have to barge into other cultures and impose our beliefs and our way of life, simply because of our arrogance? In the video, one native said that they live between two worlds–the world of their past, the world of cannibalism, the world of their culture, and the world of the Church, the world of the government, a world that is not their own. As Christians, our job is not to force the whole world to believe in Christ and then to create churches for everyone to attend Sunday morning and maybe prayer meetings or Bible studies throughout the week. When we get to Heaven, I want to be able to meet people all around the world who love Jesus, but worshiped Him in a way different than me on earth. Being the Church isn’t about conforming people to an agenda and an institution–it’s about loving people the way Jesus loves us.
I’m also taking a class this semester on the Holocaust and the interaction (or lack there of) between the Christians and the Jews during this time. The class is a good class–it really forces me to think about what loving your neighbor truly looks like. On the first day of class, my professor wrote one simple question on the board; “Who is my neighbor?” I think that modern Christianity as a whole has misconstrued the idea of who our neighbors are–we only love our neighbors who are like us or we can relate to. We don’t try to love t the neighbors we’re not comfortable loving. Currently, in that class, we’re learning about the history of anti-Semitism in the church–people who claim Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, and yet hate the Jews simply because they are Jews.
In both classes, I’ve realized that a lot of these issues could be resolved if we just simply saw each other as humans, instead of believing the lie that certain people are better than others. Humanity is made up of only humans. Seeing people as your neighbor requires you to look past your misconceptions and past your comfort zone. If the tourists really realized the natives were people just like them, they would treat them differently. If the Church as a whole realized the Jews are people just like them, the Holocaust might have had a different ending.
I’m not saying that I have all the answers to the world’s problems. I just know that what America perceives as loving their neighbor is not exactly what Jesus intended when He commanded that.
On a different note, I had lunch with three friends today. We talked about Heaven, and by the end, we all were even more excited. It was a great conversation. I love talking about Heaven! 🙂