Thursday, June 04, 2009

"We Can't Do That"

Human tendency is to label anything different or strange as "bad" until we understand it. You (hopefully) learn this about yourself after a while of living overseas. One contrast between Chinese culture and American culture is the tendency in in Chinese businesses to always say "We can't do that" if you asked them for something 'outside the box'. Usually, we either just say "Yes you can" OR "Just wait until they are uncomfortable enough to actually figure it out." Either way, we usually get agitated, since in America, you always find a way. An American would never default to immediately saying, "Sorry. Can't"

On our bad days, we chalk it up to their being lazy or worse. This morning, we might have an insight that is a bit more positive. The truth is, people are rarely all good or all bad (this includes people from the opposite political party).

HUMILITY. The Chinese have it. We don't. They know their limitations. They know they can;t be "whatever you want when you grow up". They respect authority. They respect teachers and history. Therefore, that awareness breeds a humility that doesn't presume to solve or do anything they want. That thinking of course keeps them from practicing some not so difficult acts of self-initiation. When would that attitude ever be bred into them?

On a related note, we Americans tend to just care about the bottom line: Did you get it done? Well, that very attitude is based on presumption and pride, namely, that we can do whatever we want, given enough effort and information. It's destuctive in parenting and in all of life. This is sad slavery...for we can't enough change our heart and will. This is why we continue in sins like anxiety, bitterness, jealousy, joylessness.... Why do we continue not to recognize our limitations?
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