In his soft melodic Jamaican accent he whispered… “J, everything that is supposed to happen, will happen. Never worry ya mind.” – circa Summer 2011
My emotions have been my greatest strength & also my greatest weakness here in China.
When physically facing a disaster, instead of most people’s default “fight or flight” mode, I find myself extremely calm & focused. This works really well in professional settings.
Personally, especially when it comes to my friendships and/or romantic relationships, I’m an emotional volcano. I don’t have a particularly strong reaction, rather a continuous meltdown that won’t stop flowing until all is well. Moving to China gave me a chance to rectify this behavior with strangers that wouldn’t anticipate my normal reaction. I still failed. Despite my friend’s advice, I still worry. I worry about even the slightest of threats. I worry until my hair feels as if it’s falling out. I hate to be wrong, I hate to be misinterpreted, and I hate to make a mistake in the public eye.
My technique (failed): Over-communication. In a situation of misunderstandings, high tempers, and tense relationships, I’ve attempted to over-explain & overcompensate & be overly honest, because I thought it would fix things. It doesn’t.
Recently, I tried to be a “good samaritan” and warn someone that I might have given them bad information a few months ago & that they might want to do their own verification. I thought I was doing the right thing… being nice… being a good human. Admittedly, I could done a better job in deliverance, but now it’s turned into a huge fiasco of libel. Perhaps because everyone involved doesn’t speak “my English” as their first language, or just simply misunderstood.
I’ve been slandered, and threatened with blackmail all within less than 48 hours. My friends would say “Your contract ends in 30 days. Just leave China” (Mostly because they want me to come home anyway), but I’m going to stay for a little while. Most people that know me, know that if I ever cause someone harm, it’s unintentional. In a foreign country where I don’t have my reputation to bolster me, it’s a little more difficult to deal with situations as these. I no longer have my choir singing my praises, because it was left behind in America.
As a result of this, I think I can understand modern Chinese culture even more.
In China, if someone is in trouble (publicly), there’s a 95% chance that all witnesses that are Chinese nationals will run away, avoid you and certainly not offer any help. “It’s not my business”. This is a quote I hear from nearly every local here when we discuss matters of moral dilemmas.
This attitude stems from two things: (1) China is a dog-eat-dog country, and as a result of extreme materialism & the “Little Emperor Syndrome**, many locals (unless they’re quite Westernized) only care about themselves & their immediate family; (2) the failure of the nation’s courts & law enforcement to protect “good samaritans” [做事被讹 zuo shi bei e” – The fear of extortion as the dilemma of the Good Samaritan in contemporary China] [China’s Good Samaritans count the cost of their altruism]
I won’t go into depth about these two because you can read about them on every website. Long story short: (1) if you’re not making money, you’re not important; (2) it seems to behoove law officials that a stranger would help another stranger. In the past there have been incidents of “good samaritans” being punished in court for helping another stranger (See linked websites in previous paragraph). The reasoning was that the samaritan is lying, and is actually the cause of the victim’s accident or misfortune. Hence… only come to China if you’re healthy. God forbid you pass out on a railway track & everyone just stares and looks at you. Because that’s exactly what they’ll do. Or you might get lucky.
In a nutshell, although I’m still quite emotionally sensitive in my personal life, I’ve learned from this incident to really take my friend’s words to heart. If I think something is wrong, it’s not necessary to discuss it until there’s no other option. I’ll just have to pray and make better decisions before giving any type of advice or warnings, even if it’s a warning about a mistake I made. Whatever is supposed to happen, will happen. I just have to continue to seek God for wisdom I need to grow into the servant, friend, wife & mother that I aim to be someday.
Little Emperor syndrome: http://healthland.time.com/2013/01/10/little-emperors/ [One-child policy led to children that don’t even know how to color because their parent color pictures for them. Ask my friends that teach in schools in China. ]
In the meantime… I’ll be eating homemade fried chicken.