04 Sep Fries or Rice
Responding to differences as a Christian
To engage students in CFs on pertinent social issues more deeply, Fries or Rice, a panel discussion about race and majority privilege, was held on 7 July 2018 at the Church of the True Light. Organised by the FES National Student Council (NSC), the event featured two panellists, Rev. Dr Goh Nai Lat and Mr Gilbert Lok, who not only shared their perspectives and experience on the topic but also provided useful pointers on our interactions with people who may be different from us.
The panel discussion was useful in allowing the participants to develop a greater awareness and understanding of majority privilege. The discussion highlighted the reality of different ethnic groups’ experiences in Singapore. Some examples brought up included the different options for food or television channels. Indeed, the hidden benefits that accompany one’s membership in a majority group, hence the majority privilege, could be a manifestation of inequality to some people. But as pointed out by the panellists, it is also important to note that equality is not the same as justice. Perhaps one could draw some insights from this statement: “Justice is not simple equality, but equal treatment of the equal and unequal treatment of the unequal.”
Differences in race are inherent in a multi-ethnic society such as Singapore. But how should Christians respond to this reality? The panellists reminded the participants that God created everyone equal, in His image. This should be the underlying principle that guides our interactions with people of other races. It is important for us to come to a position of humility where we give ourselves a genuine self-assessment. This helps us unravel our personal blind spots and reflect more deeply on how we have failed to understand other races or treated them unjustly.
The panel discussion also went beyond issues of race to a broader view of identity. Race is just one part of a person’s identity. The Christian response to racial differences is also useful in dealing with other differences in general. Other social differences include that of age, gender, language, religion, class, and education. These differences are part of reality, and we are reminded to see such diversity as a gift from God. We should strive towards unity, not uniformity, solidarity, nor sameness. Most importantly, this should be driven by mutual love where we make an intentional effort to put aside our personal wants or desires to achieve community with the people around us.
 This statement was used by Peter Kreeft in his book,The Unaborted Socrates,(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press 1983), page 147, though the concept goes back to Aristotle, particularly in his work, Politics.
Written by Chang Wei Xing, NUS for Impetus August 2018 ( FES E-newsletter)