Social Compassion is so low. Surprising for a communist nation.
Many character traits are dragged down by low compassion. Respect for others and self is one. And with that, variations of respect. Personal space, property, health, feelings.
Yet, therein lies the confusion for me. How does this society flourish?
I think in all this tom foolery and absence of compassion and respect, people just get along and get on. The kind of car intrusions to your lane, all the time, in many other cities, would have anxiety levels high enough to explode, and police officers snowed under in traffic infringements notices. The queue-cutting would see queue-rage in any other country. The sheer frequency and volume of spitting would have radio and television and social media commentators tripping over themselves demanding the equivalent of a royal commission.
Yet, the city does flourish. People get along, or they don't and they espouse a rant, and then they get on. Cars cut in and out and in and out and in and out and in, and other cars do the same and everyone knows they'll never see that car or person again and they get on. The automatic decision making is akin to "I'm doing this, I'm not making eye contact, and if it affects you it's not my problem it's yours and honestly I don't care and this thought has taken too much of my time already."
It's a nation of detachment that works, somehow.
For me, many cities have stunned me to various levels with this same trait - London when I first visited, Istanbul, LA, the biggies. Each adventure finds me enriched by the thought of home, anywhere in Australia, where attachment to each other is richer than I've seen it elsewhere. Where respect and compassion is different and it ebbs and flows in different directions over the years. Where you can't get away with pulling the wool, or spitting or rampantly cutting queues because the bloke or Sheila in front of you deserves better. Our rhyming slang uses "China" to mean "China plate" = mate.
In Australia, we'd say, "you're alright China."
Well, in China, no one is your China plate.
So, you're alright China, but you're no Australia, mate.
Maybe I/we see and comment on these negative aspects because it's so different to what we are used to. Despite having traveled to 23 or more countries, lived and worked in 4, studied in 2 others, my default is the great organism of Australia, so it's natural to contrast China with Australia. So if I've bounced out a little vain, I'm sorry China.
Redemption from sans-compassion and sans-respect came this afternoon when I was complimented in perhaps the most profound way, ever.
A shot putter ranked about number 3 in China with a razor thin temperament, so I'm told, told me in Chinese I was an idiom. I'd just applied some system to my art and got rid of her back pain, after scolding her for not doing what I'd previously shown her could keep her back pain away.
I know. I'm an idiom. Or did the translator mean idiot? After all, I did slap her on the wrist, and she was known for the Chinese version of the dummy-spit (Do Chinese use pacifiers?) I didn't get the translation. My assistant tried to get out "idiom" but I heard "idom", like "idol", to which he shook his head and tried again. When I suggested "idiom" he confirmed. I was thinking "idiot" because idiom is not a word I'd use to describe a person. But his Chinese thesaurical efforts included "great" & "awesome" as examples to reiterate that she'd said "idiom". I still didn't get it.
I had to google it to understand it better.
Wikipedia told me:
An idiom (Latin: idioma, "special property", f. Greek: ἰδίωμα – idiōma, "special feature, special phrasing", f. Greek: ἴδιος – idios, "one’s own") is a combination of words that have a figurative meaning owing to its common usage. An idiom's figurative meaning is separate from the literal meaning."
I wondered if she thought of me differently than my literal representation as a physical therapist, in a better way. Meaning.... ahhh, who knows. She was beaming. And she was grateful. And she was free of pain.
China redeemed itself with a profound compliment.
Time to re-calibrate my impressions of China. Or does the exception prove the rule.
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