There is an idiom from Lao-tzu: “Those who understand others are clever, but those who know themselves are truly wise”. However, I also believe that by interacting with others and understanding differences, we can see a reflection of our own character. This self-reflection is an important part of ARI’s training because if you want to be a leader, you need to know about yourself; where you are, what you can do, and how you can combine and utilize your gifts for your community.
Although ARI is rooted in Christianity, it was built to respect the diversity of all cultures, ideas, and religions. This respect comes from the love of Jesus, who showed compassion to all people regardless of status. You can get a glimpse of ARI’s diversity even in our daily life.
In the staff room, there is a fish-shaped wooden temple drum used in Buddhist prayers. Being a Japanese participant last year was an opportunity for me as a non-religious person to learn about the power of building a relationship with God. However, while I have observed non-Christians participating in Christian rituals, I haven’t seen Christians perform practices from other religions (except when they put their palms together while saying “Itadakimasu” before eating). I feel some participants adopt Christian practices because they don’t want to feel isolated. This is a shame, because it is ARI’s responsibility to teach its participants that they are part of a multi-faith community that values their beliefs. I felt, “Wouldn’t it reflect the love of Jesus to create an environment that empowers the minority?” However, this question made me consider my own life. In Japan, I am in the majority as a non-religious person, and while I have always wished for minorities to be equal members of society, I’ve done little to create such an environment. As a minority in ARI, I have gained some understanding of how it feels to live with a majority that does little to reach out to you.
I am sure that, this year again, I will continuously question others, which will lead to new reflections about myself.
2017 Japanese Graduate & 2018 Graduate Intern
See her article in Euodoo 2