Power of Art

ART CHANGES THE WORLD

I am not a Liberal Party supporter; never voted for them. But I dislike the way some people call Justin Trudeau a “former drama teacher” to mock him. Drama, as in many forms of art, is important for the quality of life. It forces us to advance our skills in thinking. Also it teaches us to communicate better. It also helps us to look into our life in depth. When you call someone a drama teacher as an insult, you are only exposing your lack of wisdom.

Powerful politicians of all colours are often excellent artists: Winston Churchill was an artist as a painter, an orator, and a writer that made him a powerful politician and the leader of free world. He saved civilization from fascism. If you make fun of Ronald Reagan calling him a “former movie actor,” you have overlooked his awesome skill in communication. He helped to bring about a profound change to the world which we now call “neo-liberalism.” Politics is the theatre that changes the world.

Charlie Chaplin was a philosopher and a social critic, not at all just a funny man on the silver screen. His social criticism was so cutting and effective that the mighty American establishment was mightily threatened and had to kicked him out of the country, and kept him out for decades. In the end Chaplin won. He received “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the “Academy.”

I often attend drama and music performances at the university. I notice every time the students active in performing arts excel also in academic disciplines. Ability to memorize one whole book to perform in a drama alone proves their mental capacity.

Millions of years ago, our ancestors made art on the wall of the cave. Art is what makes us human, because it makes us imagine and think. Art nurtures creativity and productivity. Belittle it at your peril.

GOOD IN MODERATION

Addiction

I saw a woman of certain age at a restaurant, who was obviously addicted to her phone. She looked at and clicked on the devise every few minutes. Her table was next to ours. I felt guilty lurking, but could not help it because her behaviour was so extraordinary. Her sister, I assumed she was judging from the resemblance, kept putting her hand on sister’s phone to restrain her. In the end, the woman put her phone on her laps and continued checking it while eating dinner. If that was not addiction, what else could it be called? I shuddered to think of her driving a car. However, one sees similar scenes everywhere nowadays.

I saw a recent statistics showing that the traffic fatality caused by distracted driving is six times that of driving while intoxicated. It is 16% of all road fatalities. Most are cases of speaking or texting on the phone while driving. The report says it is now the leading cause of death on the road. It is a very serious problem, more serious than that of death by opioid overdose. Why is it then the problem is not talked about more prominently?

I understand that addiction to internet causes damages to the same organ made by other types of addiction like alcohol, drugs, and gambling. I also understand that internet addiction is caused by not merely psychological but also biological change. It is a serious public health issue. Digital technology has now become integral part of our life. Society would not function without it. Then the question is; what can you do to avoid the damaging effect of internet addiction?

Speaking as a recovered dialled-up “Chat Room” addict (remember those days?), the solution is the same as that for any other addictions: Disciplined consumption. It can be harder than “cold turkey.” Besides, total abstention often does not work. It has been tried before with drugs. We can get addicted to all sorts of things, not only to alcohol and drugs. But you can keep consuming under a strict regime with right amount, frequency, and timing, without being totally destroyed. We can avoid destructive result of addiction to devises by setting time, duration, and frequency. It takes will-power. Once it becomes a habit, it is easier. This is what we do with alcohol, food, and recreation; disciplined consumption. All can be good for you in moderation.

CREATIVITY AND FREEDOM

The WW II ended in 1945: Many silly little life-style restrictions also ended in Japan. I was an incorrigible grade seven boy. Free at last! I decided to let my hair grow. Under the war-time regime, all school boys had to keep their hair very short. Only one shaggy head among several hundred short cropped hairs: mine must have stood out.

It took a while for people in the administration to decide how to handle the new situation. I was called to the principal’s office. They asked me why I had to look different. They didn’t know what to do with me, but they knew they couldn’t force me to cut my hair. I said, I got tired of cutting hair so often. Besides I said, my hair would not harm anybody except making me look weird.

Many people seem to have a problem wearing masks. Is the face mask the same question as length of hair? Is it attack on fundamental rights to freedom? I disagree. We wear a mask to prevent transmission of virus to other people; we don’t know if we have virus or not. But some people don’t see it that way. A face mask is uncomfortable. Maybe some people simply don’t like to be told, like the boy in the grade seven.

We do have the rights to liberty but we do not have freedom to endanger people’s lives. It’s like ignoring the traffic lights or texting while driving. Gun ownership poses the same problem.

Of course freedom is our fundamental right. It’s the hallmark of liberal democracy. It’s also what makes us creative and dynamic. Autocracy stifles creativity and is an attack on human dignity. It is a particular American dilemma. The U.S.A. is proudly a land of liberty. Freedom is sacred. The Second Amendment gives the right to bear arms against arbitrary measures.

That’s why Americans are creative and their society violent. Americans have won the largest number of Nobel Prize in many fields. Meanwhile it’s where the largest number of people killed by the guns held by fellow Americans: the second largest number of deaths after traffic accidents.

I treasure my freedom. I hold dear the same spirit of a long hair wiredo. But I want to live longer too.

Glass Ceiling created a new class of professionals

PROFESSIONALS FROM MINORITY GROUPS

About three decades ago, we began to see more women in theological schools overtaking men. We see the same trend unfolding in Law and Medical Schools. The result is apparent at the press conferences on Covid-19. Many women appear as Chief Medical Officers representing Provinces. The same is true of other professions like law and veterinary medicine. Likewise you see larger number of persons from ethnic minority groups in those professions.

Though it is a positive development, it also exposes a negative side. We have seen misogynist and racist attacks on women by angry white men, such as the one against Dr. Theresa Tam, the Federal Chief Public Health Officer by Conservative politicians. Some people have not quite caught up with the 21st Century. They will soon find themselves left in the museums like stuffed dinosaurs.

Another important point is that it reveals the invisible wall built around the big corporate board rooms. Large number of women and persons from minority ethnic groups in the professions is the result of the barrier. For many decades, many Jewish parents have encouraged their children to go into law and medicine. Americans and Canadians of Asian descent have followed suit close behind.

According to a sociologist who specializes in “Sociology of Work,” there is an unspoken protective barrier around the class that controls big corporations. For women, it has been known as the “glass ceiling.” It prevents women and minority groups to join the clique of highly paid executive men and/or membership in the “board room.”

In Japan, it is called “Gakubatsu,” which is “old boys’ network” from elite universities, like Keio, Todai, and Waseda, that controls the board rooms and the government bureaucracy. Few people admits its existence, but it’s there. “Collegiality” is the excuse they use to exclude capable women and minority.

The result is law and medicine have become the choice for those women and people of minority groups who are excluded from high executive positions and the board rooms of big corporations. In law and medicine, skills count more than the connections with “Dad’s old buddies,” When I came to Canada in 1957, I worked among Japanese Canadians. I saw it was common for parents to encourage their children to go into law and medicine. And they did.

Crucified Santa Claus

DON’T CRUCIFY SANTA CLAUS

Ginger Beef was concocted in Alberta, not original Chinese. Chop Suey is American food in Chinese style. We are lucky that we live in the 21st Century when we enjoy many things from other cultures like those foods. I am happy also we are free to adapt them to suit our taste. There are many examples:

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden in Lethbridge is called “Canadian Garden in Japanese style.” All trees are Canadian that look like Japanese. Many native Japanese plants do not survive Canadian winter.

Poutine was food for working class Quebeckers. Original ingredients are just fries, cheese curd, and gravy. It is only recently it began to appear with many add-ons like chicken bits. Ramen has the same story. It was cheap street food for students, only Chinese noodles in pork broth. California Roll is not Japanese. It’s American sushi. Pineapple bits on Pizza? Italians would look at it with horror.

I was once surprised by quality of rice cooked for sushi which was prepared by a couple of well known otherwise first class kitchens in town. Fussy Japanese sushi gourmands would be dismayed. Well, let them. Many people didn’t mind and loved it. It’s O.K. so long as people like it and are willing to pay for it. It’s Japanese style Canadian sushi.

We have to watch out for appropriation or misappropriation of cultural and traditional practices and sacred symbols. Last Spring, I attended a wedding in Yokohama celebrated at a commercial wedding chapel. The building was a cheap imitation of a Baroque period European church. Attendants, females included, dressed like Franciscan monks. Japanese young people think Christian wedding is cool though most of them are not Christians. I was dismayed by the blatant appropriation of Christian ritual. Often, the person officiating the ceremony is an European or anyone with white skin. Japan like many European countries legal marriage is civil done at city halls or registry, and religious part is only social; officiant is not required of licence.

The worst was the Crucified Santa Claus hung in department stores in Tokyo. It was a response to the criticism of absent religion during unabashed Christmas Sales. Appropriation of Indigenous culture is just as grotesque: it’s cultural thievery and desecration of the sacred.

We celebrate many cultures today that had until recently been strange to us. Culture and language define our identity. We deny culture we deny people’s existence. We nearly succeeded in destroying the people who accepted us to the land we now live on. Treat culture and tradition with respect. They define what we are.

Cats are annoying. We love them.

Bad manners in public discourse is a sign of decaying civilization.

Some people never agree with anything you say. They have to say “no” first. Relationships break up when one side always insists “I’m right.” You should realize if you know someone who never disagrees with you, he is a boot-licking liar.

Can we agree to disagree without calling names, and continue talking? Disagreement is not a sign of a dysfunctional society. It’s natural. We are all different from each other. It’s normal. It’s OK if we do not accept what is offered or said without checking it. The civilized society knows how to deal with disagreement constructively.

You put a cat on a nicely fluffed up cushion. It has to get up, sniffs at it, walks around it as though there is something wrong with it, and finally lies down on that very same spot on the cushion. If you love the cat, you have to learn to be patient. More so with people.

Some people are like that. If you say ‘this,’ they say ‘that.’ When you see red, they say “It’s sort of red.” Many professors are like that. They have to say “no” first as a mark of a learned person. In Japan such a person is called “heso magari.” Literal translation is, “a person with a crooked navel.” I don’t know where ‘belly button’ comes from, but it means “an annoying contrarian.” Kings of yesteryears used to chop the head off of anyone who contradicted them. We know some dictators who behave like that today.

We are all different and independent minded. We think, disagree and question first. When your child begins to ask, “Why?” you should be happy. The kid is growing up. We are all different. It’s a mark of Homo Sapiens. The trick is to accept the difference as normal and to find the way to live together on a small boat without throwing anyone overboard. Good manners help you do that.

Decriminalization is the way to solve opioid crisis

Regarding opioid crisis, I want to begin speaking about three addicts I knew personally. None of them was a criminal. Thinking about them I have realized that the solution may have to be de-criminalization, like in Portugal. Prohibition of alcohol during the 1920’s failed totally. “War on Drugs” has failed too. When the law requires impossibility it emboldens criminals.

Prof. Zenta Watanabe got doctorate in Germany and was a well known Old Testament scholar in Japan when I was at the Tokyo Union Theological Seminary during the 1950’s. He was a heroin addict. It started with prescription after a major surgery. He was persuaded to go for rehabilitation through total abstention. It was so difficult he attempted suicide several times. He said he would never recommend abstention as a solution.

My grand father, Dr. Yukichi Takeda was a veterinarian served in the Japanese Imperial Cavalry during the Ruso-Japan War of early 1900’s. He saw the worst. I found only recently that he was an addict all his life. I guess it’s called PTSD today. He managed to look normal and conducted an active working life until he died at the age of 82. I remember the smell of disinfectant every time I walked into his den. Being a veterinarian, he had an easy access.

I met many damaged souls when I came to Canada. Japanese Canadians were released from internment and gradually returning to the coast. Visiting the Mental Hospital in Fraser Valley was my regular routine. J.O. was addicted to substance but wanted desperately to be rehabilitated. Many times he went into the rehabilitation program; failed every time. He died trying, a few years later.

In the Victorian England, opium was a common recreational drug like alcohol and was sold in any drugstore. Connan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Browning, George Elliot and many other prominent people were well known regular users. It was a profitable commodity for the East India Company. England waged a war against China when it tried to stop opium import. England was a world’s biggest drug dealer then.

We take some kinds of substance for recreation. Alcohol for example. Many painkillers contain opioid. Many cultures have used substance of some kind, like qat, coca, cola nuts. Abused them, they are addictive and toxic. But with control they can be medicinal. Current crisis is the result of illegal product of questionable quality produced by criminal elements.

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Why do we have to avoid what we like: FAT, SALT AND SUGAR

WE ARE STILL EVOLVING

Life is unfair. I have to stay away from what we crave. I have to watch the intake of fat, salt, and sugar to stay healthy. I think our body has not evolved to live in time of plenty. Our body is still conditioned to live like hunter gatherers. When you have to run after the animals for meat and walk all day to pick berries and seeds, find edible grass and roots under the hot Sun, you have to consume fat, salt, and sugar whenever you find them. But those things are available easily today; and they are killing us. Like a drug used as effective painkiller is now seen as a curse.

When I was a child in Japan there was a popular caramel candy called “Glico.” It came in the box of ten. I loved it. On the box it said, “One is worth 200 meters” with a picture of a runner. The message is: one candy gives you energy to run 200 meters. But we don’t run 200 meters every time we eat a candy.

Carbohydrate intake turns into sugar. We burn it to generate energy. Surplus sugar turns into fat and is stays in our body. Most of us do not move enough to burn it all up so the amount of stored fat becomes bigger and bigger. Our heart has to work harder to bring oxygen to the increasingly bigger body mass. Consequently obesity has become ubiquitous, and heart decease is now the major cause of death.

Fat is important for survival at the time of want. It supplies source of energy from within. It’s why when food is scarce big people survive better than skinny people. They eat what’s stored in their body. Likewise, salt retains water in our body under the hot Sun: it cools the body and prevents heat-stroke. When I first went to Africa for volunteer work in 1964, the organizer gave everyone anti-malaria pills and salt tablets.

The body of Homo Sapiens has not yet evolved to dislike superfluous nutrient. We lust for big fat juicy hamburger and fries, with sweet soda drinks: all fat, salt, and sugar. We are indulging ourselves to death. So we have to go to gym, to suffer the dictate of diet, and banish natural desire. I know it’s unfair. But that’s life.

SWITZERLAND – I worked for the World University Service in Geneva, Switzerland

WUS INTERNATIONAL, 1975 – 1979

by Tad Mitsui

I was employed by the International Office of the WUS in Geneva, Switzerland from 1975 until 1979. My job title was Associate Secretary for East and Southern Africa. I administered the largest funds in Southern Africa, namely Zimbabwe (as was called Rhodesia then) and South Africa. I was assigned also to keep contact with the national committees in Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Rhodesia, and Lesotho. There was no WUS Committee in South Africa but the WUS International worked directly with the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) for white students and the South African Students Organization (SASO) for blacks. I was also a lead contact with the committees in Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea because of my language ability.

I visited all the above national committees at least twice during my tenure, except for South Africa. When I was hired by the WUS International, I had been a “prohibited immigrant” in South Africa since 1971 following a brief incarceration and expulsion. So, I was not able to visit South Africa from Geneva, though it was where WUS International raised and spent the largest sum; Rhodesia being the number two. I met with South African project holders often in Lesotho. Other times, they came to Geneva.

* I once asked Richard Taylor, General Secretary, to visit all the WUS supported programs in South Africa.  I was very excited that Richard managed to spend time even with Steve Biko who was under house arrest as a  banned person.  Little did we know that Richard was followed by the security police everywhere he went.  We planned the whole excursion on consultation with Craig Williamson, who was working for the IUEF (International University Education Fund) as Deputy Director.  After I left Geneva, in 1980 Williamson was exposed to be a spy for the South African Police, a captain in the Special Branch. 

I was made aware of WUS for the first time by a plaque at the entrance of the university library in Lesotho in 1970. The plaque indicated the building was the donation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the WUS. I tried to find the WUS Committee in Lesotho. There was none. The committee had existed apparently but was disbanded. The relation with WUS was severed after the decision of the WUS General Assembly to establish contacts with anti-Apartheid movements and organizations. The Vice Chancellor at the time was British who did not think that keeping the connection with the organization explicitly against South Africa prudent because of the presence of a large number of South African students. It must have been the sign that a change was happening in WUS. In the 1960s many altruistic and activist organizations were shifting the emphasis towards social justice and away from merely charity and welfare.

In 1974, as Dean of Students of the university I encouraged students to revive the national WUS committee. I thought it would be a way for them to be involved in community and national development. The Committee did revive and was recognized at the 1974 WUS General Assembly. When the WUS Lesotho Committee was recognized, the new University Vice Chancellor was very pleased seeing a WUS national committee as an important channel of international assistance.

Among 12 national committees I was assigned to – nine were in Africa and three in Asia, – I observed that there were three categories of programs being implemented:
(1) Service to the students typically by providing important facilities e.g. libraries, residential accommodations and tuberculises sanatoria;
(2) Assistance to international students particularly refugees and disadvantaged students by unjust policy and system.
(3) participation in community development and popular consciousness raising programs.

Categories 1 and 2 were the original type of WUS programs in Europe after the World War I, which provided opportunity to continue university education for the prisoners of wars and the students with tuberculosis. Scholarships to refugee students displaced by war, civil unrest, and those disadvantaged by unjust society were a part of the category 2.

I classify most of the consciousness raising programs to No.3. They were, for example, the South African Committee for Higher Education (SACHED) and a few community development programs in black townships. There were several programs carried out by Black Consciousness Movement headed by Steve Biko. There was only one rural development program, which was based in an university; it was in Rwanda. I found it interesting that Tanzania and Zambia committees had not found their new niche after the governments introduced university students national service for development. Their Presidents’ (Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda) socialistic philosophy pre-empted WUS’s impetus. They have not found a new direction after ‘bricks and mortar’ foreign aid program in the WUS’ donor community became redundant.

  1. Of the committees I had related to, Sudan, Korea, and Japan focussed more on category one. Student residence s were in Khartoum in Sudan and Seoul in Korea and in Tokyo Japan. I believe Japan had a TB sanatorium as well. It was no longer there when I visited from Geneva.
  2. Scholarships: Burundi, Lesotho, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) administered scholarship program. In South Africa it was implemented by NUSAS which was a scholarship programs for black medical students and political prisoners. Burundi and Uganda administered the scholarships for Tutsi refugee students who escaped violence in Rwanda. They were the victims of the Hutu dominated government’s ethnic cleansing policy. In Lesotho, the WCC took over the WUS scholarship program for South Africans after the national committee was disbanded. WCC transferred the funds directly to the University administration, and it selected the recipients. Because scholarship administration required strict accounting protocol, all scholarship programs had volunteer financial administrators under national committee oversight. Most of my time was spent to keep contact with the administrators in stead of volunteer student committees. Administrators were mostly faculty members.

Program in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe was by far the largest in terms of the size of funds as well as the number of recipients. It was the program to support all black students at the University of Salisbury. Though the university admitted all races on A level school leavers, most black students could not afford the cost which was determined by the average income of white population: Hence the scholarship assistance. Source of funds was the WUS committees in Canada, Denmark, and the U.K. and one government direct, Sweden. WUS committees received their contributions from the government aid agencies also. Even in the implementation of scholarship programs, what should be noted was the shift from emphasis on welfare to social justice. All WUS scholarships were social justice actions fighting political and social injustice..

  1. Participation in development: a shift from welfare programs to an emphasis on social justice must have grown from the mere support of refugee students to include the support of students who were disadvantaged due to discrimination and other unjust practices. This shift towards social action programs included consciousness raising popular education to create more just society, it became massive and effective such as News Paper Education Supplement, and was exemplified by programs such as one created by the South African Committee on Higher Education (SACHED) and the Domestic Workers’ Project to make maids, nannies, and gardeners more aware of their conditions and their rights. The fact that those popular education programs quickly became the target of attack by the South African government proves that it was effective. News paper education supplement and the educators were banned very quickly. All the funds for South African programs were Swedish government grants. SACHED was the biggest program in terms of the size of funds in the WUS International.

One curious twist I found was in Rwanda: There was an active agricultural reserach program implemented by WUS students at the National University of Rwanda directly funded by Canadian government, in Butare in Southern Rwanda. I found it creative and well run. When I visited the university, the student body was exclusively from people of Hutu ethnic group. It might have been the result of civil unrest and exodus of the Tutsi population. It is an interesting question why the violent persecution, even the massacre and resultant exodus of the Tutsis produced an university where students were all Hutu and keenly interested in rural development. Was it accidental? I never had time to solve the puzzle. A decade and a half later, the genocides of the Tutsi by the Hutu government happened.

Another interesting feature of some WUS national committees was the relationship with the Student Christian Movement (SCM). I found this in Japan, Korea, and Zambia. Of course, until 1970, WUS International office was sharing the same building and services such as the receptionist and the custodian on rue Calvin in the historical old Geneva on the hill, with the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), which is the international headquarters of the SCM. Japan and Korea still operated student residences with strong tie with SCM. In Zambia, the WUS committee did not have any WUS program. It looked like a SCM national chapter. I know this because before I joined WUS in 1975, I was Regional Director of the South African UCM (SCM) for Lesotho and Orange Free State.

Finally, let me say a few words about the International office of the WUS in Geneva. The running of the office in Geneva on rue Cointrin was not in my job descriptions. For that reason, I never raised a serious alarm about the existential problem of the WUS International. However, I thought there were two dangerous aspects. Firstly, there was an over-dependence on government funding exclusively for Southern Africa programs; and secondly the source of largest amount of funds for Southern Africa was mostly from one country namely Sweden, where WUS had no national counterpart. Yet, the cost of running the office in Geneva was mainly financed by Swedish government funds as the fee for administration, which created a sort of organizational instability.

EPILOGUE
I conclude with the challenge from the experience of working in the World University Service in regards to the role of Civil Society, such as NGO, in the global human family. There has to be a balance of power between three sectors of global human family: Market, Civil Society, and Government. Margaret Thatcher said, “There is no such thing as SOCIETY. There is only MARKET.” Charles de Gaulle said, “Government has no CAUSE only INTEREST.” The demise of WUS International is the result of NGO losing its independence as it turned into GONGO (Government sponsored NGO.)

PENTECOST: Arrogant word divides. Spirit of Love unites

Genesis 11: 1 – 9, Acts 2: 1 – 12

SERMON FOR PENTECOST 2020
“Arrogance divides, Spirit unites”
Genesis 11: 1-9
Acts 2: 1-13

There is a story about people who were very arrogant in the Book of Genesis, chapter two. They thought they were so clever that they could reach the sky and God. They started to build a very tall tower determined to reach the sky where they thought god lived. The tower never reached the sky because of language difference among the workers. If you think, “I know everything” and dismiss what others say, you are acting like those ancient builders. Different languages were the God’s way to punish arrogant people. Marriage and friendship will not last very long either, if you think you are never wrong and only others are.

You hear the same arrogant words in today’s politics. The man with big ego says: “Whatever I say is always right. Others are “fake news.” He is now the most divisive figure we have ever had. God’s punishment for such arrogance is a divided nation. Canada is not doing any better. When you think you are perfect and never make mistake, you can not hear the truth. That is how a country falls apart. Friendship and marriage fail too. Dalai Lama said, “When you speak you are repeating yourself. When you listen to others you are learning something you didn’t know.”

I don’t think it is language as such that breaks up relationship. It’s the idea behind word that does it. A word is an expression of what you have in mind. When you know another language, you know it is impossible to translate one language into another to say exactly the same thing, because different peoples think differently. You think differently depending on culture and tradition. So your words can never find the one in a foreign language with exactly the same meaning.

For example: 1. At one General Council of the UCC, delegates debated the question of the authority of the Bible. They spent two days debating if the Bible is “an” authority or “the” authority of our faith. I thought it was such a waste of time. Because I didn’t understand what the whole fuss was all about. You see, there is no article as such, definite or indefinite, in Japanese and Sesotho.

  1. There is no such word as “NO” in Japanese and Sesotho. They are polite people. They never say “no” to another person. If you don’t agree, you say something like, “Yes, but.”
  2. On the shore of Lake Galilee, three times the risen Christ asked Peter if he loved him. The word “love” Jesus used (agape) is not in English language. But Peter answered every time using the word people often used for love. He was distressed that Jesus asked the same question three times. The problem here was that there is no one word for love in the Bible: there are at least three: agape, eros, and phileo. They mean three different kinds of love. Peter answered that he “loved” him as we love our parents, children, friends, sisters and brothers. The word is phileo. But Jesus asked if Peter loved him with the kind of love that has no English translation, agape, King James version translated it “charity” not love. The word Jesus used was the kind you give up everything for love. It’s the kind of love even when you don’t like the person.

On the day of Pentecost, the Book of Acts reports people started to speak different languages and different people heard the same messages in their native tongues. It is because they were possessed with the same spirit of the Risen Christ, who lived the life of love. They were possessed with that spirit of Christ. This is spirit that makes many people understand each other despite the difference of language.

People were eager to speak of the Good News of perfect love that the life and teaching of Jesus Christ demonstrated. People saw that such life never dies. They were so possessed by the conviction that Love of Jesus did not end on the cross. So, they were overcome with joy that they could not keep their mouths shut. When you are willing to learn the languages of other people, it means you are showing your willingness to understand and communicate with those people on their terms, not yours.

On the day of Pentecost, people spoke in different languages and understood each other. They understood each other because they felt the spirit of the one who lived God’s love. When there is spirit there will be unity despite language difference.