I have often thought about this:  What if I had been born to different parents in a different country?  It could have happened, but it didn't.  I always wonder what God had in mind for me when He put me here in the good 'ole US of A.  I also wonder about this when I hear people running down Muslims or when I hear someone call an African American a n*gger.  What would have happened to the name caller if they had been born inside of the other person's body....or what would have happened to the victim had they been born inside of the bully's body?!  What would have happened? 

     When we are attacked either physically or emotionally, we think....I hate that person, or why do they have to be such a bully?!  Generally, circumstances lead people to behave the way that they do in most cases...past history....hurts...lots of baggage.  What would happen in our modern world if a bullying teenage girl woke up one day in the body of the person whom she bullies?  What would the victim do if she woke up in the bully's body?  Would they change?  Would the victim become the bully or the peacemaker.....or the victim still?  That would make a great body switching movie for teens to ponder about in my opinion.

     And, when we as a nation judge other nations for their values that we happen to disagree with:  what would have happened if we had been born in that nation in question?  Would we have turned out with the same values that we deplore?  If they were born here, would they deplore us the way that we deplore them?

     I love my brother, but would I hate him if we were born in a nation that looks down on women....would he look at me differently?  Would I still love him the way that I do now?

     I don't have the answers to any of this rhetoric.  But, lately, when I find myself being or becoming judgmental towards another person or another nation, I find myself asking myself how I would feel if I were in the other person's shoes.  Would I see myself as a threat....am I really the bully and not the victim in some cases by the way that I look at someone, my body language...my demeanor? 

    Ethnocentrism is a natural part of our upbringing.  You can read more about it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnocentrism   There is a great explanation to this term if you are not familiar with it.  It was a term that I learned in my first sociology class while at Penn State many years ago and it has always stuck with me.  I love to talk to people from different cultures to try to learn why they think the way that they think.  Some are very open in discussing their ideals and opinions in this regard. Others, are insulted to even be asked such a thing.  Some are threatened by such questions. 

     I once had the honor of teaching adult students from various countries, English as a Second Language (ESL).  I loved that job.  I especially loved running into these students outside of class to discuss our likes and our dislikes, our fears and our dreams, and our religions and belief systems.  I found that in most cases, we all misunderstand one another via propaganda through media....no surprise there.  I don't want to endanger any individuals, so I am not going to even name nationalities as I discuss this one example.  I had a male student who hated Christians...but he loved me....not as a lover...but as a mother figure since his was so far away from home.  He always came to me for advice.  My biggest chunk of advice for him was to stop smoking....it was a part of his culture and cigarettes were very cheap where he came from.  One day, he found out that I was a Christian and he stopped in his tracks and looked at me painfully.  He avoided me for a while.  Then one day, he decided that he had to come to terms with his new found information.  He tried to convert me to his belief system.  His friend tried to get me to blaspheme my God.  Of course I didn't do that and they were terrified for my mortal soul.  In their eyes, I was damned.  There was nothing more that they could do for me.  He told me that the hardest part for him was that he had looked at me as a mother figure.....and that it was like he was losing his own mother to the pits of hell.  I asked him if he trusted me.  He said that he felt conflicted about that because before this epiphany, he did trust me, but he wasn't so sure any more.  I then explained to him what my beliefs were and how I too worried about his soul.  I asked him how he could hate me as a Christian after he knew me as a person.  He didn't have an answer.  To make a long story short, we remained friends.  What happened here is that he in his culture was taught at a very early age to hate Christians....that they are demonic people out to hurt his people.  That is what he was taught to believe....until he met me.  He told me that he couldn't get over how nice I was to him and to his friends.  He was surprised at how much I worried about them and their antics....like his mother did.  He would tell her about me and she felt relieved that he had met me.  He even invited me to go to his country to visit his family.  I have never done that and my husband would never allow that because of my husband's connections to people in that country.....he knows how women are treated.  So, there is our own prejudice glaring like the bright eyes of a tiger....our own ethnocentric values. 

So, why do I write this?  Well, as an American, I have been taught since childhood and therefore assume that I live in the best country in the world.  But, you know what?  Someone else who is from another country, reading this might become offended.  They think that they live in the best country in the world!  But how can that be?!  We can't both be right....or can we?  Only God knows the answer to that complicated question.  When we humans go away on a trip, we are always so happy to come back home to our familiar surroundings.  So does that mean that when someone visits the best country in the world, the USA...that when they go home from visiting here...that they are happier to be back home...than to remain here in the USA?!  How can that be?  How is that possible?  We all think that our country, our home, our family, our whatever is personal to us is the best

I am a middle-aged white woman who happens to have a beautiful black grandson.  I love him so much.  But, I can remember one morning, when he was staying with Grandpa and me, he at the ripe age of 3, looked at me and said, "Black is better than white."  I thought that I had to have heard him wrong.  I asked him to repeat himself.  Again, he said "Black is better than white."  I thought that I knew what he meant, but couldn't believe what I was hearing and didn't want to prejudge what I thought that he was saying...so I asked him what he meant by that statement.  He said that Aunt _ _ _ _ told him that.  I asked him what he thought that she meant.  He said that she said that black people are better than white people.  I asked him how he felt about that since he was half black and half white.  He said that that wasn't true and I had to assure him that it was true..and pointed out that his father was our son.  We are all white....that he has white genes from our side of the family and black genes from his mother's side of the family.  So, if black were better than white, where does that leave him?  At the age of three, he sat there thinking...I could see the cogs going.  After pondering, he said that he didn't want to believe that because it would mean that Grandpa and I were bad people and that he loved us.  I gave him such a big hug that I think that I probably squeezed the ba-jeebies out of him! He just smiled and said that he didn't want to hate white people.  I told him that he didn't have to.  I told him that his Aunt ___ had an opinion and that lots of other people whom he had yet to meet would have opinions.  I told him that he didn't have to believe everything that he read or heard.  I told him that he had to spend the rest of his life deciding who he wanted to believe or who he didn't want to believe.  He has grown up to make us all proud so far.  I have never forgotten that conversation and I let his other Grandma know about it.  She too was appalled when she heard the story.  I could have judged her for allowing him to be exposed to that kind of information.  But, it was easier to just educate him about forming opinions. 

So in closing, I have to say.....I may or may not like you upon meeting....but hope that we can first know one another before forming opinions.  I also hope that we will take into consideration what caused us to become the individuals who we have become.  I hope that we will cease to judge one another because of race, color or creed.  I also hope....and this may be opening a can of worms.....that we will stop forming our "clubs just for our kind".  That doesn't encourage others to see us in a positive light...but instead causes most of us to see these "clubs" as a way to isolate themselves from the rest of the world....not allowing themselves to be experienced by the rest of the world.  If you want to be treated equal...then join the rest of the world....stop isolating yourselves.  We also need to learn to hate what we interpret as bad behavior or sin of these individuals while learning to love the individual.  That is the hardest part....one that admittedly, I have yet to conquer.  That is ethnocentrism in a nutshell...pun intended.

In all of this though, there is still hope.  There is one individual who can conquer all of the above.  He is the only one who can bring peace to the world.  This is one area where I will not bend at all.  My Lord and Savior is coming back soon.  There has been war, earthquakes, tumult, you name it, going on in the world continuously for the last several years.  These are a sign of the times.  If you read the Book of Revelation or the Book of Daniel, you will recognize what we are going through.  You can argue with me until you are blue in the face.  It doesn't matter because I know that my Savior is coming soon.  We don't know the day or the time.  We don't know if it will be before the 7 year peace treaty or after...but none of that matters.  Christians are arguing among Christians about mundane facts.  The most important thing is that you know this wonderful Savior.  You see, before He was on the earth, many, many years ago, people died for their sins.  Priests would sacrifice animals to atone for the sins of the people.  It was impossible not to sin and so everyone was going to hell in a handbag.  But, God the Father didn't want to see His people perish because of the sins of Adam and Eve.  So, He came up with a plan.  He decided to wipe the earth clean and start all over again with a man Noah, and his family.  Noah's was the only family on the earth that He could find that wasn't tampered with....a clean, pure family.  Sure, they had sin, everyone did....but their bloodline wasn't infiltrated by the giants of that time.  So, God cleansed the earth of the giant gene and Noah and his family survived to produce a heritage leading to the birth of Jesus. 
    Jesus was God on earth.  He was without any sin....just like an unblemished lamb that the priests used for sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people.  satan was furious because he realized that God had called his bluff.  satan wanted to be a god in his own right....but the real God the Father said a long time ago...there is only one God.....God the Father of Isaac, Jacob, and Abraham.....and us.  Well, Jesus lead a perfect life on earth without any sin whatsoever.  The Jewish people saw him as a prophet.  The Muslim people see him as a prophet as well.  But, the Christian people realized that he was the one that was to come predicted in the Old Testament Who would come to save the world.  And that He did.  God the Father allowed Him to be hung on a cross......God used Jesus as a lamb in sacrifice for our sins for the rest of time on earth until He returns again.  Now, you may ask....how can that happen?  He died on the cross...he is therefore dead.  Well, that is where the miracle lies. 

It was predicted that the One Who was to come would rebuild the temple in just 3 days.  Jesus was crucified on the cross during Passover.  If you will recall, when Moses tried to free his people and the Pharaoh refused to release the Hebrew people, God warned that the last curse would be to kill the first born sons.  The Hebrew people sacrificed a lamb and used the blood to mark their doors so that the spirit of death would pass them by.....the term passover  came from that event and is honored by Jewish people and some Christians to this very day.  It was recognized during the time of Jesus too....and He celebrated the last supper during that time.  Now, Jesus was not the only person who was sacrificed on a cross.  I remember as a kid, I used to think that He was the only one whoever died barbarically on a cross.  No, everyone who was sentenced to death died that way in those days.  So, when Jesus was found guilty...though he wasn't guilty....they still hung him on that cross like every other common sinner...and He died.  He was buried in a borrowed grave and the guards of the army were put on duty to guard the grave because Jesus had said that He would rise again.  The army didn't want anyone to steal his body.....and then the people would think that that prediction was real.  So, the guards were witnesses when they found the stone was rolled away on the third day, as predicted.....the miracle of all.  The tomb where Jesus had lied was empty except for his burial cloths.  There were angels there asking what Mary was looking for.  She wanted to see the body of Jesus...and the angel told her that He wasn't there.  He was Risen...the miracle of all!  Well, you might ask...why did Jesus have to be dead for that long?  Why didn't He just go back to heaven.  The reason that Jesus was dead for that period of time is because he visited hell.  He locked the dungeons of hell, and I believe that He freed a lot of innocent people from there.  He then presented Himself so that people would see that He was still alive.  Dead people abounded the earth....they were now free.  Then, they all went to heaven.  So, now, if you believe this.....it is not just a tale...and if you confess your sins....no matter how bad they are.  It could be as simple as cussing...to something more serious as murder or lust.  Sin is sin.  If you confess your sins to the Lord and tell Him that you are sorry, that you believe the story that I just told you here...and that you are willing to give up your old way of life so that you can start out fresh...and are now willing to try living your life the way that Jesus would want you to.....to believe in Jesus and that He died for you so that your sins were forgiven when He was substituted for an innocent lamb sacrifice....and that you want Jesus to be the Lord of your life....and it doesn't matter what you did in the past....this is the present...and it is time to move ahead....anew.  If you can do this and believe in this with all of your heart......and tell Jesus that you want Him in your life leading you all of the way....then you are Born Again.  Jesus will then be your leader, your King of all other Kings and Lord of all  other Lords...if you have done this....congratulations and may God bless you in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  And may the Holy Spirit come alive within you cleansing you of all addictions, wants and desires that are not of the liking of Jesus....call on Jesus to release you of all of these addictions...and He will if you have faith that He will.  It is now time to clean out your closet of all temptations and to focus on Jesus.  He will do the rest if you only do your part!   May Jesus be with you now and always!  Please don't wait...or hesitate in doing the above.  Jesus will be returning soon.  It is a matter of eternal life or eternal death.  When I speak of death, I am not talking about dying and lying dead in the dirt.  I am talking about eternal damnation of fire and brimstone.  It is described well in the Bible.  It would be eternal pain and burning.....forever.  I don't tell you this to try to frighten you into accepting Jesus to rule over your life....I tell you this because it is a fact.  Fear should not be your motivator....only your sincere desire to turn to God.

I wrote a song a while back and here are the lyrics.  Do you recognize yourself in them?

I'm Down on My Knees   Written and Copyrighted by Victoria F. Kee

I'm down on my knees
I'm looking for an answer
I'm trying to forget why I feel so alone sometimes

I'm down on my knees
I'm filled with remorse and trouble
I feel that I could burst like a bubble
Please answer me
Set me free
Here down on my knees.

I turned to my mother, my father, my sister, my brother...
but their answers don't sit well with me...
I turned to my pastor, my doctor, my conscience,
It's a disaster...
What should I do?
Where should I turn?
Please answer me and set me free........

I'm down on my knees
I'm looking for an answer
I'm trying to forget why
I feel so alone....some...times

I'm down on my knees
I'm filled with remorse and trouble
I feel that I could burst like a bubble
Please answer me
Set me free
Here down on my knees.

I looked for You
What should I do?!
You didn't answer!
Where were You?!

I shook my fist!
I stomped my feet!
Where were you?!
I felt NOTHING!...nothing at all......

So, now I'm down on my knees
(Jesus) I give my life to You!
Do with me whatever You want to do!
I gave up my freedom...
yet I'm no longer a prisoner....
here down on my knees.....

I'm patient...
Down on My Knees.