Moses told us to befriend aliens.

Monday, 8/8/11

The first reading is from Deuteronomy, a collection of sayings by Moses that are presented as the summation of his teaching at the end of his forty years with the people. I’d like to draw your attention to one sentence. After telling people that they were obliged to follow the example of their Lord, he reminds them that the Lord befriended aliens.

            “You too must befriend the alien, for you were once aliens in the land of Egypt.”

He asks the people to recall the hardships they suffered when they were aliens in Egypt. Because I was the only American in my town in Korea for ten years I can remember some unpleasantness that sent my way. Walking through town I would be surrounded by little boys, leaping to get their faces even with mine, they would over and over shout, “Hello, Okay!” At times they would imitate our frequent uses of the letter ”S” by slobbering “Shlicka shlicka, shickla” into my face.

The worst of it was that it felt like it was denying my humanity. I wanted to say, “I am not animal. I am human through and through just as you are.” I resented being their walking zoo

When I moved into that Korean town in September of 1954 I was very conscious of how different those people were. When I had been there five years I no longer could see there were any difference between them and the people at home. There was the same percentage of clever people, humorous people, people lacking in humor as at home. They had equivalents of all our old sayings and jokes.

When I settled in here at home I found trouble adjusting to all the people of color. I had to force myself to associate more with them, and now I am so glad I did. On the whole I find them friendlier than white people. It is much easier to strike up conversations with people of color. Maybe, their living closer to each other than stand-off white people does make them readier to mix.

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