I’m a proud father of three boys. I love them even though almost every day they fight over something. My third one is only 1 year old, but soon enough he will participate in the sibling rivalry. They compete for their parents’ attention and to prove their dominance over each other.
The rivalry between my two sons can quickly become violent. I say to my boys when they fight: “Remember, you are brothers. Hands are for caring, not for hitting. Don’t ever say you hate your brother. You need to care for and protect each other.”
When one of my boys cries after getting hit by the other one, I ask, “Why is your brother crying?” Many times the answer is, “I do not know.” The first reaction is denial.
God asked a similar question to Cain after he murdered his brother: “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). Just like my sons, it’s a denial. Maybe Cain considers Abel more a competitor than a brother.
Returning to the 21st century: If the question were asked to Travis and Gregory McMichael — “Where is Ahmaud Arbery, your brother?” — maybe the answer would be: “He’s not our brother. We see him as a threat. That’s why we killed him.”
What if the question were asked to Robert Aaron Long: “Where are your sisters? Where are Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Yaun and Daoyou Feng?” Maybe he would say: “I do not know. I never considered them my sisters, otherwise I would not have shot and killed them.”
People are being killed, slashed, beat up, pushed over, humiliated, mocked, told to go back to where someone thinks they came from just because they have different skin tones and different eye shapes than people from the dominant culture.
Why is that? Why is there so much hate and fear over these differences? Honestly, I don’t know.
But I do know we all share the same ancestors. We are the descendants of Adam and Eve, made in the image of God. We are all brothers and sisters.
Recent scientific studies confirm that humans are all more closely related than we have commonly thought. Susanna Manrubia, a theoretical evolutionary biologist at the Spanish National Center for Biotechnology, says, “All of [us] carry the genes of your ancestors because we share the [same] ancestors.”
Maybe people forget we are one race called humanity. This is our story: We are scattered over the Earth, evolving culturally and physically. The ones who go to the north have light skin. The ones who live close to the equator have darker skin. The ones exposed to more sunlight develop different eye shapes.
After much time passes, they meet again, but they have forgotten they are brothers and sisters. For centuries they fight and try to dominate each other. In some places, the ones with lighter skin become more powerful and rule over the others.
In these troubled times, followers of Jesus need to speak up against personal and systemic racism and violence. We need to confess our sins and lament with people who are lamenting. It’s time to build bridges of friendship and solidarity across cultures.
The Enemy uses fear to control, oppress and dominate. Fear of others is a weapon of evil. As believers, we need to dismantle this weapon. We need to break barriers of race and culture, debunk myths and refute stereotypes.
In Indonesian, there is a saying, “Tak kenal maka tak sayang,” which translates as “you can’t love someone you don’t know.”
That is why I believe that in every conflict there is an opportunity. An opportunity to get to know each other better. To learn from each other and be transformed together.
Step out of your comfort zone. Let’s take this opportunity to become brothers and sisters, ones who love and care regardless of our differences.
Remember, Jesus died for us because he loves us. His blood was spilled so we can heal and unite as brothers and sisters. His blood is enough for us all. Let’s do our part so that no more blood of our brothers and sisters is spilled.