While teaching a residential course last week in the Pauenhof Buddhist Zentrum, in Germany, I heard a graphic example of differences in culture. I have expanded on it to make a point.
A person went to India and witnessed Indians blowing their nose with head pointing down to the ground – one finger on one nostril and then the other nostril.
The Westerner said to her travelling companion: “That’s disgusting.”
A little while later, a Westerner in India blew his nose into their handkerchief and then put their handkerchief back into their pocket.
An Indian turned to his companion and said: ” She put her handkerchief back into her pocket. That’s disgusting.”
To summarise: We easily jump to conclusions about the behaviour of another with no idea how our behaviour may appear to others.
From The Ballad of East and West by poet Rudyard Kiplin (1865-1936)
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth! |
Do you have an example of cultural differences?