Feelings are running high in South Korea. It seems that the American Ambassador to that nation has offended many people there. What’s he done? He hasn’t shaved his mustache.
A Conflicting Mustache
Now before you start laughing, let me explain the situation. US Navy, retired, Admiral Harry Harris is of both American and Japanese descent. His father is American and his mother was Japanese. Throughout his years in the Navy he remained clean-shaven. But upon his retirement he grew a mustache as a way of celebrating his personal freedom from the military’s restrictions.
Why is that a problem? To Koreans Ambassador Harris looks just like one of the eight Japanese military governors who ruled over the Korean Peninsula during WWII – all of whom sported the same type of bristly mustache.
Relations between South Korea and Japan have been strained for some time. Some of this is due to resentment over the military occupation. You see, during that time the Japanese army committed atrocities. They deforested the land and used tens of thousands of Korean women as sex slaves (comfort women). But to add insult to injury, recent Japanese textbooks don’t even acknowledge these injustices, much less apologize for them.
Therefore, when a man who resembles a Japanese military governor shows up in South Korea to represent the United States, Koreans couldn’t get past his appearance. Matters took a serious turn for the worse when Ambassador Harris criticized the South Korean President to the press. The President was seeking to open up tourism with North Korea without consulting him.
Ambassador Harris doesn’t seem fazed by angst he’s generated. He’s merely commented, “My mustache, for some reason, has become a point of some fascination here.”
Wisdom & Awareness
Maybe I’m totally wrong on this matter, but it seems that a foreign diplomat should be diplomatic. He should be keenly aware and sensitive to the feelings of the host nation where he is a guest. His refusal to remove his Japanese governor-like mustache, not to mention his protocol violation in criticizing Korea’s President to the media, is creating a public relations disaster.
Ambassador Harris could certainly learn something about diplomacy from the apostle Paul. He said, “Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. … When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. …Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23, NLT).
A Call To Self-Reflect
Many Christian believers need to heed this message as well. There are thousands of unbelievers whose hearts will never open up to Jesus. Why, because they’ve suffered at the hands of tactless and offensive Christians. I’ve heard from waiters and waitresses who dread Sunday afternoons. From their own experience they’ve found Christians to be some of the most troublesome customers and stingiest tippers.
While my daughter was going through a divorce and my wife and I were trying to lead her back to the Lord, she was enduring a lot of abuse at the hands of her employer. Yet this employer claimed to be a born again Christian and frequently testified about her faith. My daughter is serving the Lord now, no thanks to her employer.
Let’s examine our lives and ask the Lord to search our hearts. If there’s anything in our lives that’s undermining our witness for Jesus, let’s get rid of it. Christians will never be perfect in this life. But this is no excuse for being tactless, offensive, and abusive. In the words of the apostle Paul, “we are Christ’s ambassadors, as though Christ were appealing through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). So let’s be true witnesses, not stumbling blocks.
Search me, O Lord, and know my heart. Examine me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me and lead me on the path of everlasting life. Amen.
(Information from: https://news.sky.com/story/us-diplomats-moustache-leaves-south-koreans-bristling-with-anger-11910834)