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things I cherish in life..
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Saturday, April 27, 2013
On What & How We Were Brought Up To..
I thought I had known enough. It all starts with something as widely-known as a shared knowledge about infants/toddlers/children up to age of two’sunquestionable intelligence and capabilityof picking up and learning their native or mother language.
However, I guess I may have been oblivious to the fact that along with it they also learn about their own ‘culture’. Of course, I have realized that language is a part of culture per se. But, the chapter sorts of re-confirming and re-affirming something that has been part of my personality as an individual. As a Javanese who grew up in bilingual environment, Javanese language and Indonesian, like most Javanese, I have been accustomed to ‘position’ myself as to when/where/how to speak and even how to smile in front of others. In this case, Javanese language has similarities to that of Korean in term of honorific, formal, and informal forms. On the other hand, Indonesian language does not possess, much less acknowledge hierarchical forms. But, since I live in Korea, my being Indonesian has somewhat overshadowed my being Javanese. At times, I forgot that I am a Javanese, because in Korea I tend to regard myself as an Indonesian who should act/talk/behave /and thus…think like most Indonesian would do, not what a Javanese would do. It is simply different. That is why I said earlier that I “may have been oblivious”.
I also thought that most cultures in this world would surely teach universal values of what considered to be—at least—good and acceptable to most people, but as I read the chapter further, the examples as elaborated in the chapter perturbed me. One example: how could ‘lying’ be one of the must-learn values in a certain society? But it does exist.
So, I have learned/re-confirmed myself again that humans in diverse cultures around the world have ‘created’ unique pathways through which their children, even as earlier as infants, get exposed to their native language, culture, as well as values and gender roles—which turned out to be inseparable that come along with them. In other words, different cultures indeed emphasize different ways in ‘conveying’, ‘injecting’, and ‘ingraining’ values to their own people; even starting from infants during child-rearing practise. Through the so-called ‘enculturation’ process, we have learned about how Chinese children learn from their early age about the high value of ‘shaming’; how the Chillibuani children in the highlands of Peru learn about the need to ‘respect’ to humans, deities, and all forms of life; and how the Tzeltal-speaking Mayan children in Mexico learn from early age about the importance of ‘lying’.
The values of shaming, respect to others, and self-reliance are not-that-hard to comprehend, but lying? But then, I could comprehend the context within which this value is based on in that particular culture. It is because in my culture I learned ‘how to smile’ in many occasions, even during the funeral. Most Javanese would do that. Even if a wife has to welcome the guests and relatives coming to her deceased husband, she should to some extent show ‘smile’ on her face. It may look so unthinkable to non Javanese. Even to other ethnics in Indonesia, Javanese culture of showing ‘smile’ could be misinterpreted as bizarre. Me, myself, I was brought up to always ‘smile’ in all occasions even when the time is hard and life is hard. That is one of the things of what being ‘Javanese’ is all about: having acquired the culture of mesem ‘smiling’. But, at the same time, I am an Indonesian who has to face and come into contact with friends and people from other ethnics and nationalities. I guess that was the child-rearing and the personality that I have become. But now that I am in Korea I just cannot smile as much as I used to like when I was still back home. Other wise, people would misjudge me. By realizing this, if I would do a fieldwork in Korea, it would be interestingly challenging for me.
I think I have to agree that one’s body expression that the people in a particular culture have learned—which ‘defines’ that culture—does not necessarily have a universal meaning.
To give a ‘real story’ that Javanese’s smiling culture almost ruined bilateral ties between Indonesia and Australia, I would like to refer to the following site. This is mainly in Indonesian language, but some English part within the article is enough to give a portrayal of a ‘smile’ perceived differently in bilateral ties. http://tika-sinaga.blogspot.kr/2012/02/budaya-senyum-dan-senyam-senyum-kita.htmlAnother article that I would like share is an article from the Hofstede Center. One quote “They will keep smiling and be polite, no matter how angry they are inside.” http://geert-hofstede.com/indonesia.html