Recently, an event happened within the Chinese culture that did not make much sense to me at the time. It’s easy to feel disrespected no matter where you are at in the world, but the difference comes in the reaction. Though I try to be more proactive, there are still those times that come out of nowhere.
I was waiting at a local bus stop behind a wall providing shade for me. I knew there was a space under the wall, but I didn’t know how important that space would be. As I was facing away from the road and enjoying the wonderful plethora of construction sites and machines, I felt a light sprinkle on my leg. Yes, indeed it was, a child peeing on the ground next to my shoe, and a splash was coming up and hitting my calf.
Usually, I tend to laugh things off when differences show their faces, but this time seemed like common sense to me. A woman was letting her young child go the restroom in the middle of the bus stop full of people, benches, and buses. Now, I have been used to little ones using nature as their squatty since day one. What I wasn’t used to was, on top of the situation, an older Chinese lady looking at me and laughing. That didn’t help. I peered around the wall and saw the boy with his mother. I’ll be honest. I really wanted to say something, but I didn’t. I just knew that if I said something, it would come off with a bad tone and an ugly face. Some might think that this wouldn’t be a big deal. Well, let’s consider a few issues…
1) If I reamed out the mother with her child, this could give several Chinese a bad notion about Americans.
2) The school I work at was right down the road. The people would probably know to associate me with the school.
3) I’m a Christian. Therefore, I can be angry but not sin. I should speak the truth in love and be a light in this dark world. I should be slow to speak and quick to listen. (Other verses came to mind, thankfully.)
Number three had me bite my tongue and try to process what just happened. What made this tough was that my wife and I were on our way to meet some friends who we would travel with to go shopping at a distant market. Almost the whole time we were out and about, I had trouble with cultural differences. I didn’t rely on God this time so I struggled with almost everything that came my way.
I continuously thought about everything that day as the wrong way of dealing with each situation. Why would that be there? Who would do such a thing as that? How could this happen? All these questions would arise in my head without the thought to actually be humble, talk with our Father, and love on those around me.
This isn’t a rant for those who enjoy listening to others go on and on about their problems, it’s a distinction that needs to be made more often. We as foreigners in this country of China need to be more open to why certain things happen, even if they don’t make the slightest of sense. We as foreigners on this world need to understand more of why current events are happening and why particular people act as they do. Let us be thankful for the Word of God that clears confusion and gives us direction for the narrow path ahead.