OARs

Rantlets #1

Quickly, “Rantlets” are going to be an ongoing thing on this blog.  They are basically a collection of short rants/observations about living our life and seeing what we see.  We hope you enjoy them and let us know if there are any that we need to turn into full-blown, long version posts!

  • Some people say that all Asians look the same.  All we can say about that is that it is born of pure ignorance, stupidity and lack of any real knowledge.  It is easy to fall into the hole of saying that which is repeated quite often around you without retort or recourse.  But, the truth is, saying such things is little more than proving your lack of respect and knowledge of other people, places and cultures.  We are not flinging stones in a glass house, however, and are willing to admit that we, too, have taken part in these stupid actions in the past (longer post on this soon) and, therefore, must now try and educate ourselves more and more going into the future.  No person is perfect, but we should all strive to be.  In the end, this saying/belief, and others like it, are just plain incorrect and uneducated.  There is nothing else to say.
  • One note pertaining to that which was said above: there have been multiple instances while living in Taiwan where we have been told that all white people look the same.  We never expected to hear this before we moved here, and, thus, it was very surprising to hear at first.  But, then we heard it again, and again, and again,  I (Zach) have been told I look like Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Chris Evans, multiple of my friends of which I bear resemblance, and others beyond that.  I do not look anything like those people.  So, we’re not quite sure what to make of this development.  Maybe it is just goes to show that people all around the world look at others through similar eyes and with similar stereotypical lenses.  Or, maybe, we really do look like movie stars.
  • Sunbrellas should be named the enemy of the state in Taiwan, Asia in general, and any other place around the world where they exist.  You see, the sunbrella by itself is not dangerous.  It is the sunbrella  put into the hands of people that is dangerous.  In Taiwan, people do not have the same idea of personal space and the recognition of other people’s personal space that we have in the West.  Instead, there is an intense individualism and ignorance of other’s space.  There is nothing wrong with simply walking with your head down and your sunbrella, or other things like: cell phones, books, tablets, etc., blinding and maiming other people.  This is not to say that this cultural characteristic is universally wrong.  We believe in cultural relativism and, thus, believe that you cannot judge another’s culture and their cultural actions based upon your own cultural lens.  It is one, though, that we have a very hard time with.  We won’t judge and say that it is universally wrong, but what we must do is warn the world of the dangers of the so-called sunbrella.  Keep your head up people, and don’t forget to dodge and weave!
  • Crossing a crosswalk in Taipei can be a very dangerous action, regardless of the walk sign.  The same cultural characteristic we discussed just above applies here, too.  The walk sign is merely a suggestion, both to those walking and those driving vehicles.  With that in mind, the whole “look both ways before you cross the street” is much more important here.  You have to be assertive and walk with purpose and, at least partly, hope that the driver doesn’t feel the same way, which they may.  If you second guess or pause while walking a driver will gun it in front of you, no matter how close you are.  Walk fast, walk with meaning and be careful!
  • Children are funny, sincere, nice, evil, conniving, back-stabbing, outgoing, introverted, etc. people, all at the same time.  They are tiny walking paradoxes that surprise you every day.  When you are a teacher, anywhere in the world we assume, you quickly come to this realization.  Let’s use a quick example.  In one of our classes there is a little girl.  She is four years old, very cute, and has quite good English.  She is also what we like to call an “aggressive sharer.”  What does this mean?  Well, most basically, she will beat the shit out of you to take something from you, and then turn around immediately to give you that which she just stole from your grips.  In one instance, the children were all coloring.  There was a box of crayons in front of them, and the student next to our culprit reached out for a pink crayon.  Our culprit, obviously, wanted the same one and immediately sprung into action.  She clubbed the other little girls arm, clearly in an attempt to break it and cripple her, flung it to the side, and robbed her of the crayon.  Violent and evil stuff.  Then, though, without even using the said crayon, she turns to the girl as she nursed her arm and in the most sincere fashion asked if she wanted to use the pink crayon.  The girl, probably dumb-founded and numbed with pain, didn’t know what to do, but took the crayon so as she wasn’t abused for refusing the gesture.  There you have it then.  Our “aggressive sharer” displayed intense violence and selfishness and also intense sincerity and charity.

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If you have anything to add to any of these, any comments on their validity or lack thereof, or any suggestions on anything please let us know below!

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5 thoughts on “Rantlets #1

  1. Compared to the West, it seems that people here show a very high amount of politeness and consideration for people whom they are directly interacting with, and an almost complete lack of same for those whom they are not directly interacting with, but who are sharing the same space and who are affected by their actions. The woman standing on the left (walking) side of the escalator staring at her cell phone with a line of impatient people behind her will doubtless be incredibly courteous and polite if someone asks her for directions.

    I imagine if one tried to apply the same high standards of politeness to strangers on the MRT or street while living in a city with 25,000 people per square mile, one might very well go insane. However, the contrast still startles me quite often.

    • Completely agreed. Taiwan has some of the most polite and courteous people I have ever met. They will go completely out of the way to help and assist you if they can. This is actually one of the reasons we love Taiwan so much. But, yes, there is that other side as well. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Regarding “all people look alike” – I think it is quite inter-racial feature – it takes a lot of time and effort to be able to clearly differentiate facial etc. features of another race. Don’t think this is uniquely western or uniquely Asian …

    • That is good point. I think we would agree, and we weren’t trying to make it just a western or Asian thing. These are just the two we are the most familiar with and, therefore, felt the most comfortable commenting on.

      Also, there is some truth in the idea that it can be difficult to differentiate between races, ethnicities, etc. when you aren’t from there or have a deeper understanding, and we aren’t necessarily saying something about that. But, what we do disagree with is when that is abused and used to be “funny” or “witty” when, in reality, it is being used as a way to demean and look down upon other people, races, etc.

  3. Pingback: Just One of Those Days… | Internationally In Debt

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