For the GEEK in you

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Importance of Being Earnest

Read this guy. Print out his preamble.

Then take a pen. Or a marker. It's ok, I'll wait.

Then take every instance where the author refers to 'Thai' and replace it with, 'local'.

And bingo, you've understood the nature of culture in South East Asian and the Middle East.

This whole lack of confrontation malarkey has been stretched like week old chewing gum in the UAE. Nobody, anywhere, anytime, is willing to call bullshit on something, for fear of upsetting someone 'higher up'. Eventually, that means that we start to self censor outside the office even in the street.

I'll walk down the road and if someone from a certain community is nearby, I'll instantly start talking in the most forced nonchalant manner, because I think that I'll somehow get in trouble for speaking my mind and anyway, I want to avoid the confrontation.

But this isn't my attitude. It's been given to me, by my parents and their parents before me, to not call whooey on anything or speak my mind assertively for fearing of upsetting folks. Try as they might, though, it still isn't my attitude.

I'm western educated, open minded, my whole life spent outside my so-called 'home country'. People who know me well will say I have more in common with Bertie Wooster than any kind of Asian person, so if I'm outspoken and a bit crass sometimes, well that's just who I turned out to be. No amount of shushing and dressing downs is going to change that now.

So what exactly am I supposed to do when I see people trying to paper over the cracks of discontent? What can I do when I see injustice everyday and people treated like dirt? Am I supposed to bow my head and move on, not even point it out?

Isn't that what we are all doing?

Next: Of Marriage Proposals and Men; and How Taking out the trash can be hazardous for your health.


Blogger BD said...

Didn't read your link yet but will. Your post is interesting enough. The irony in what you point out is that a good proportion of the population here--excluding Asians, but including Westerners and probably some Arabs, like the Egyptians--do come from cultures where people speak their mind. It is ironic that these people don't speak up more.

I'm a Westerner but I would admit my sensibilities are more Japanese like--but it irks me when Westerners I work with become all defferential to authority and start talking about things like wasta and pleasing this or that person to get something.

People should speak their minds more here. Things are changing--I think we can speak up without fearing getting kicked out of the country.

9:31 PM  
Blogger BD said...

Ok, read the article now--very interesting. Wow, I think it's worse in Thailand than it is here. But from the foreigner/local perspective I think that problem comes up less because many expats here don't have the opportunity to interact much with locals.

For myself, as a teacher--of locals--I can relate to that post. Knock on wood, in six years of teaching here, I've never felt the need to be that careful. But again, my nature to start with is rather Japanese-like.

The double-standard with regard to Thai on Thai confrontation as oppossed to Farang on Thai confrontation is unbelievable. So that whole--you can't make people lose face (as an axiom of Asian cultrue)--is a lot of BS. It's all a question of who has the upper hand.

9:46 PM  

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