Thoughts for My People

Not hear a word

I understand that ambiguity is a virtue in my culture. It is believed that you are virtuous when you can infer ten things by being told just one. It is thought that if you can read correctly and completely the vast spaces between the lines, it shows how considerate and compassionate you are of the persons who have uttered the scarce lines. It is said that that is why my people prefer to leave much left unsaid… it is not rare that we do not hear a word but are expected to have grasped everything and act accordingly.

 

I understand it, but I find it difficult to comprehend. I personally feel that there is just too much risk of misinterpretation and danger of endless revisions and redo’s with this system!

 

Maybe if the issues at hand are not put into words, we will not know their exact urgency or seriousness… and take more time to get on them or think too lightly to hold meaningful discussions.

Maybe if they are not articulated, we will not know have clear ideas on what must be at the centre of discussions… and see our talks head in all directions but the right way.

Maybe if they remain vague and diffused, we will not know who to ask for expert opinions, because anyone can have expertise on parts but not the whole of the issues… and end up reaching conclusions that do not solve them in any decisive manner.

 

And maybe this is precisely why, when discussions go astray and nothing gets resolved (or worse yet, things are left to exacerbate until they become unfixable), no one takes responsibility for the outcomes. We value ambiguity so much, even accountability is ambiguous!

 

It has been many years since I came back and re-immersed myself in this system of ambiguity. I have met a lot of resistance, and I have gotten into a lot of trouble because of my lack of this virtue. I cannot tell you just how many times I was told “that may be the way Western people talk, but not here” and was left out of discussions!

 

But there is something I have come to comprehend about this system, as I stubbornly insist on talking “Western,” as my people call it – it appears that, in many cases, they choose ambiguity to avoid taking the blame when things fail. I often get the feeling that they begin the discussion with the premise “what if things go wrong?” And when things do go wrong, they think “oh well, it was not meant to work out” and accept failure. In a way, they are expecting to fail, so of course they are less likely to hold meaningful discussions and reach viable conclusions!

 

Then, maybe more of us need to choose instead to disambiguate ourselves and gain chances to take the credit when things succeed. If we can clarify our goals and have clear vision on which direction to head, we can expect ourselves to succeed, and thus be more likely to hold meaningful discussions and reach viable conclusions.

 

A couple of months ago, there was a voice raised very clearly. But I am highly concerned about the ambiguity in which His words have been handled since then. The amount of time it took to launch an “expert committee” to discuss the issue, the shift of focus away from what should be at the centre of discussions, and the intentional exclusion of renowned scholars of the issue from discussions (apparently, to avoid getting too technical and never reaching any conclusion, so it is said) all seem to me as though we did not hear a word of what He really wishes of us.

 

So I say this clearly: my people must realize the significance of His clear words uttered in our ambiguous system. We must not let them go unheard, leave the discussions to lose their way, and allow ourselves to fail. I will not hear a word of objection on this!

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