Friday, November 02, 2007

The Humility of Guanxi

There is a very important dynamic in Chinese culture we see daily here. It’s called guanxi (“relationship”)…which basically means high speed relational networking. We’re reminded of the mob but without the crime, shooting, etc… In other words, relationship is everything. Who you know makes every difference in daily life…not merely getting a job interview, but dictating every cause and effect of your life. Anyway, while guanxi can created various injustices and frustrations, we see that there is yet an inherent humility to the system. At least, they see with humble, realistic eyes their need for others. They do not presume an independence from others such that casual persons can be brushed off so easily. From their perspective, it is worth asking, “Who knows who is connected to who? Or what “use” they may have?” While distorted manipulation is far from love, some lessons are worth learning. In our home culture, we think we are self sufficient individuals who don’t need other people. It’s far from humble and grossly naïve on our parts. In our day of ipods and other isolated hobbies, we fear our generation has lost the skill of relating, the art of conversation, and a genuine appreciation for people. Just think about it, people pay 4 bucks at Starbucks everyday to stick headphones in their ears, stare at a laptop, and not talk to anyone….yet [so we think] we are “in community”. It’s a sad reality.

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