My squared brain has real difficulties adjusting. Even after more than two weeks in Asia, I am still in the western mood of going from A to B in a straight line, although I know that one can also go from A to C or from C to F and then to E and back to C to arrive at B. I am also still in the mood of expecting a direct answer to a question and forget that respect is more important than a direct answer. This means that I can do things completely wrong, make the wrong decisions, and walk in the wrong directions, without anyone telling me, only because of being respectful. Luckily Nut and Moo have lived enough time abroad and are able to juggle both the Asian and German/Swedish way of looking at things.
Always when I feel in the middle of such a cultural clash, i.e. realizing that there are many different ways that lead to where one wants to get to in the end, or seeing that respectfulness and modesty can be interpreted in different ways, I realize that our way of thinking, and our way of being sure that we are on the right path, is nothing but one in a million of possible ways. And still we impose our way of thinking of what is right and what is wrong on millions and millions of other people.
Of course there are some basics, such as no corruption, democracy, respecting human rights, no gender discrimination, education and healthcare for everyone, good environmental protection and sustainability measures, but these should be important issues for everyone. In the western part of the world we often think that we have achieved all this, or that we are on our way, but sometimes I get the feeling that we are living in a rather parochial world.
We do have democracies (but aren’t many European countries still monarchies?), and we do have good education and partly good healthcare systems, but do we have zero corruption, do we really respect human rights (how do we treat immigrants for example?), do we really have no gender discrimination (male and female salaries are still different; women are still left out from top positions and are a minority among politicians), and do we really protect our environment and work for sustainability as we should? Or, is business not more important than environmental protection?