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When I was in Chinese school around fourteen years old or so, me, my brother, and a friend pulled a prank. I remember that the principal lectured me in front of the whole class. It was humiliating and I remember I felt ashamed and very angry. There is nothing like the searing pain of public humiliation. For many in the Asian community, this is possibly the worst pain we could ever feel and we live in fear. Public humiliation is not very common in the United States, but that’s not the case in Asia. I remember visiting a high school in northern Thailand which began with a general assembly with all the students standing in rows. Announcements were made and then a group of students were brought to the front and slapped with sticks in front of everyone there. Apparently, they had stayed out late the night before.. Far worse than the physical punishment was the humiliation and shame of having to be punished in front the whole school. Shame is huge motivator in Asian cultures and it is no less true today for Asian Americans.
In the trial of Jesus and the adulterous woman in John 7:53 – 8:11, we see a type of public shaming and how Jesus responds to vulnerability and those who would shame another. (more…)