Cultural Differences.

I knew when I made the decision to move to Indonesia that I would be moving to another culture – in fact, it was a key factor in the decision and something that I was very excited about. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how many differences there would be – having not been to a non-westernised country before I had no idea what to expect.

There are a lot of positive things – I love way everyone is so family orientated (which I understand is a strange thing to say given that my family are not here!), I love the policy towards eating out and going to buy my fruit from an old man in the street everyday and of course, what’s not to like about having (mostly!) diligent and hard working students?!

However, the other day I had my first realisation of how fortunate I am to come from such a liberal society where let’s face it, anything goes. I love my Friday afternoon class, and the other day we were talking about problems that the world is facing nowadays (I had a lesson planned on global warming and climate change, only we never got that far!) when homophobia came up. We discussed what it meant to be homophobic, and how same sex marriages were legal in some westernised countries and what were the students thoughts about all this?

For the first time since arriving here I was shocked at what the students had to say – that they thought it was wrong for people to have gay relationships, and that if there were enough women in the world, then why should a man marry another man? I was aware that this was a cultural view here, but it still surprised me. There’s a risk of getting very waffle-y here, which is the last thing that I want – I’m obviously aware that even in the UK some older generations have some homophobic beliefs, which I just accept, yet if I heard those things from a young person I’d think they were an idiot because of the evolvement in society’s beliefs today. I think that’s what shocked me most about this discussion – hearing those things from 15 year olds is so unusual in our western cultures.

It makes me wonder a) how many people are living a secretly gay life – that Halloween/drag party I attended a few weeks ago was at a gay club – it is not illegal here, just not a part of the culture in a predominantly Muslim country, and b) how people are supposed to go about changing these beliefs – surely it cannot go on forever?!

I guess it’s just a reminder that I am a long way from home and that there are somethings that are simply against my fundamental beliefs. Indonesian people are so friendly an supportive of each other but not open to the idea of love just being love.

I’ve been umm-ing and ahh-ing about writing this post for a few days – obviously it is not my intention to offend anyone, but this is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a lot so why not share it with you all? Other thing that fall in to this category of things that I do not now, and will never, agree with include eating rice for breakfast, and the Asian attitude towards drink driving – being in a different country does not change the chemical reactions between alcohol and your body!!!

Advertisements

One thought on “Cultural Differences.

  1. Maria Hammett November 19, 2013 / 8:40 pm

    Interesting observations … I saw the following and thought of you (btw I think I have pasted it multiple times! You only have to read it once!)

    You
    don’t have to agree with, only learn to peacefully live with, other people’s freedom of choice. This includes (but is not limited to) their political views, religious beliefs, dietary restrictions, matters of the heart, career paths, or if they suffer from mental afflictions.

    Our opinions and beliefs tend to change depending on time, place, and circumstance. and since we all experience life differently, there are multiple theories on what’s best, what’s moral, what’s right, and what’s wrong.

    It is important to remember that other people’s perspective on reality is as valid as your own. this is why the first principle of Buddhist Boot Camp is that the opposite of what you know is also true.

    No matter how certain we are of our version of the truth, we must humbly accept the possibility that someone who believes the exact opposite could also be right (according to their time, place, and circumstance). this is the key to forgiveness, patience, and understanding.

    That said, tolerance does Not mean accepting what is harmful. oftentimes the lesson we are to learn is when to say “no,” the right time to walk away, and when to remove ourselves from the very cause of anguish. after all, we are the ones who create the environment we live in.

    While staying with different host families around the world over the years, I noticed that people’s definitions of everyday words like “comfortable” and “clean” were often very different than my own. the opposite of what I considered true proved to be just as true for others, which was very humbling.

    If two people can have very different definitions of what “walking distance” means, imagine bigger words like “right,” “wrong,” “God,” and “love.”

    “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly” —Richard Bach

    don’t have to agree with, only learn to peacefully live with, other people’s freedom of choice. This includes (but is not limited to) their political views, religious beliefs, dietary restrictions, matters of the heart, career paths, or if they suffer from mental afflictions.

    Our opinions and beliefs tend to change depending on time, place, and circumstance. and since we all experience life differently, there are multiple theories on what’s best, what’s moral, what’s right, and what’s wrong.

    It is important to remember that other people’s perspective on reality is as valid as your own. this is why the first principle of Buddhist Boot Camp is that the opposite of what you know is also true.

    No matter how certain we are of our version of the truth, we must humbly accept the possibility that someone who believes the exact opposite could also be right (according to their time, place, and circumstance). this is the key to forgiveness, patience, and understanding.

    That said, tolerance does Not mean accepting what is harmful. oftentimes the lesson we are to learn is when to say “no,” the right time to walk away, and when to remove ourselves from the very cause of anguish. after all, we are the ones who create the environment we live in.

    While staying with different host families around the world over the years, I noticed that people’s definitions of everyday words like “comfortable” and “clean” were often very different than my own. the opposite of what I considered true proved to be just as true for others, which was very humbling.

    If two people can have very different definitions of what “walking distance” means, imagine bigger words like “right,” “wrong,” “God,” and “love.”

    “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly” —Richard Bach

    don’t have to agree with, only learn to peacefully live with, other people’s freedom of choice. This includes (but is not limited to) their political views, religious beliefs, dietary restrictions, matters of the heart, career paths, or if they suffer from mental afflictions.

    Our opinions and beliefs tend to change depending on time, place, and circumstance. and since we all experience life differently, there are multiple theories on what’s best, what’s moral, what’s right, and what’s wrong.

    It is important to remember that other people’s perspective on reality is as valid as your own. this is why the first principle of Buddhist Boot Camp is that the opposite of what you know is also true.

    No matter how certain we are of our version of the truth, we must humbly accept the possibility that someone who believes the exact opposite could also be right (according to their time, place, and circumstance). this is the key to forgiveness, patience, and understanding.

    That said, tolerance does Not mean accepting what is harmful. oftentimes the lesson we are to learn is when to say “no,” the right time to walk away, and when to remove ourselves from the very cause of anguish. after all, we are the ones who create the environment we live in.

    While staying with different host families around the world over the years, I noticed that people’s definitions of everyday words like “comfortable” and “clean” were often very different than my own. the opposite of what I considered true proved to be just as true for others, which was very humbling.

    If two people can have very different definitions of what “walking distance” means, imagine bigger words like “right,” “wrong,” “God,” and “love.”

    “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly” —Richard Bach

Any thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s