Culture clash

Riot in Estonia

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

— Mahatma Gandhi

I am half Japanese, half Caucasian. I grew up in the USA as a military brat, moving around quite frequently, and as of yet have not lived anywhere longer than 3 years. I have lived in 15 different cities, from Honolulu to outside Washington DC. While I am cognizant of different races and cultures, not pretending to be "color blind," it baffles me how people can hold arbitrary hatred for one another based on skin tone or dialect.

My grandfather on my mother's side served in the US Navy during World War II. My father, ethnically Japanese, was a US Air Force pilot for 30 years. My grandfather used to joke that he had a "Japanese pilot" as a son-in-law, much to the chagrin of some of his wartime compatriots. He never was one to paint with a broad sweeping brush, treating people as individuals instead.

I guess this attitude has just pervaded my entire life. People are different, but different does not mean bad. If variety is the spice of life, ethnic diversity is the full range of symphonic tones that echo through our planet. If you silence one instrument, the collective beauty of the entire orchestra is affected.

As you (may not) know, my wife is ethnically Russian, but was born and raised in Estonia - formerly occupied by USSR. This small country of 1.3 million, probably best known internationally for Skype, is going through a tough time. All of this turmoil arose over a monument built last century. Some say it was to signify the victory vs. the Nazis, others a symbol of Soviet occupation. Both are correct, depending on your perspective.

My wife and I are concerned about the escalating violence centered around this catalyst for cultural tension. Her family is there, and we are hoping they will remain safe. I ask for your prayers, for peace - in Estonia and globally.