The missionary spoke to the District Overseer and the District Overseer told the Circuit Assembly. "If you want to know the problem with the American brothers, I'll tell you, said the missionary. It's not materialism. It's not immorality."
"The problem with the American brothers is that they can't get along with each other." Was it just me or did I imagine a slight gasp in the audience? Everybody knew he had nailed it.
We are Jehovah's Witnesses, but we are also American Jehovah's Witnesses. And is there a people more headstrong, more self-willed, less willing to cooperate, dare we say belligerent? than Americans? It is the baggage we carry into the congregation and it takes a long while to lose it.
Other peoples have other characteristics. For example, China next month enters the year of the pig. But Muslims don't like pigs. (ceremonially unclean, a view they share with Orthodox Jews [!]) So China Central Television has banned images or references to pigs to commercials, even those tied to the new Pig Year! "China is a multi-ethnic country," the network explained to advertisers. "In order to show respect to Islam, and upon guidance from higher levels of the government, CCTV will keep any 'pig' images off the TV screen." [WSJ 1/25/07, article by Gordon Fairclough, Geoffrey A Fowler] A significant conciliatory gesture toward a minority culture!
Can you imagine a parallel move in this country? All hell would break loose! "We are proud Americans and we are not giving one inch to Muslims or anyone else! If they don't like it, let em go back to where they came from!"
Of course, another reason for opposition is that we all know reasonable meet-you-half-way accommodations could never be made here. Pig rights extremists would use the opportunity to insist on climate controlled pens, free pig health care ensured by government inspectors, and if you said anything bad about pigs, you'd pay a $500 fine.
For example, if you told this joke: Howie Blunkus was walking his pet pig, when a passerby said "Hey, where'd you get the pig?" And the pig said, "I picked him up at the market," you might get some luke-warm laughs. I hope they're worth $500 to you.
Um....now, where were we? Oh yes....Americans are contentious and we track it into the congregations. A new person would never notice, of course, because to a considerable degree we have succeeded in putting on the Christlike personality. But hang around long enough and you'll see cracks on the surface.
They told Brother Rutherford that Brother Klein had said some nasty things about him. "Ah, well, Carl talks a lot, and he says things he doesn't mean." Now that's an example of getting along, of not attributing bad motives.
Interesting thing is that Carl never said those things. He made this clear when his recollections were published in the Watchtower (10/1/ 84 issue) some years back. Yet Brother Rutherford responds as if he fully believes it. Whether intentionally or not, it teaches a lesson. Obviously, if Carl never said it, there's nothing to overlook, no obstacle to getting along. The challenge emerges in the case that he really did shoot off his mouth. So Rutherford answers as if he had.
Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. Col 3:13
Notice that the reason to put up and forgive is not that maybe you have misunderstood something. No, you have a cause for complaint! He really did say rotten things! Therein lies the test.
Ah, well, Carl talks a lot and he says things he doesn't mean.
Another reason to go easy on one another can be found here:
Also, do not give your heart to all the words that people may speak, that you may not hear your servant calling down evil upon you. For your own heart well knows even many times that you, even you, have called down evil upon others. Eccles 7:21,22
Yes, you've done it. Don't even think of denial. And just as we hope that our brothers will go easy on us when we unwisely shoot off our mouths, so we ought to do the same for them.
So there's hope. We'll work hard on incorporating those scriptures into our lives and then we'll send that busybody missionary back to wherever he came from, and he'll say "I never saw anything like it. Those American brothers really know how to get along!"