The thoughts of a writer.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Handy Cultural Translator

It can be interesting, challenging and frustrating dealing with people from another culture. After working in a situation where I was often the minority, and after marrying into a particular Asian culture, I have learned some things. The first is that logic has little to do with it. That's right folks, Spock would be quite out of his element! The second is, that extremely important cultural values and traditions today, might mean little tomorrow—depending on which side of the advantage to be gained, an individual finds him/herself on. Also, women may traditionally have limited power, which means that women can be ruthless in seeking it. Additionally, men will not acknowledge a woman's rights—except when she marries into another family. Another good thing to remember, is that if you are white, you will be wrong no matter what. If you disagree, you are a racist. I'm not saying this is true or accurate, just that this is often the view or tactic used to gain an advantage. Most white people will allow themselves to be pushed into compliance for fear that they will be seen as not politically correct. This label, in today's society, is worse than being labeled an axe murderer. But be forewarned, the result of following every whim of another group is that you will ultimately lose yourself and your identity.
Now then, we move to the translator portion. When he says, "You always have to be controlling and have everything your way!" The translation into a more realistic voice is, "You are making me upset because you are preventing me from being controlling and having my own way!" Likewise if you are told that you must comply or there will be social sanctions—such as the individual may not come to help you when you need it, would actually be more accurately portrayed as , "I'm playing the 'guilt card' and the 'fear card' and I sure hope I get my way—I better make an angry face too!" If she says, "Don't you disrespect my culture!" it really means, "You can't disrespect my culture—only I can disrespect yours!" Once you learn to retain your individuality and your own culture (yes, even white people have a culture), you will be met with periodic and sometimes hostile reactions. But eventually, you will probably be tolerated and hopefully, "tested" less frequently once you are found to be "stubborn and negative;" (i.e. uneasily intimidated and taken advantage of). Vive la différence!

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