tisdag 21 augusti 2012

East and West

When reviewing Brev till Prinsen av Mogadonien a book critic at the Swedish public television made some remarks about the Western culture and the Eastern culture(s). According to her, We the westerners don't consider the cultural exchange we could get from reading Eastern authors and artists. We the westerners stubbornly stick to our own culture of art and literature. This book critic also claims that Arabic people are more interested in western literature and culture than westerners are about theirs. I wonder if she has ever actually met an Arabic person in her whole life.

I've lived with people from all over the world for many years - Buddhists, Christians, Hindu, Jews, Muslims, Sikh, some indigenous shamanistic religions and so forth. When communicating with people from all these different places it's a reasonable and courteous thing to really listen to them each separately, to give them their space and time of expression and to respect them for who they are and not what you think they are. Assumptions like "that one is an Israeli Jew, I guess he's a crazy Zionist" is not really helping anyone in international socialising. Another thing you might consider is not to talk about yourself constantly. It doesn't get you anywhere, it can be rude and it's really egoistic and self-centred.

One thing I have noticed is that all the monotheistic people love to talk about their own culture. If you mention anything that aren't related to their own culture they listen to you for about 3 minutes, then try to switch back to the subject at hand, their supreme and overwhelmingly flawless culture. I had to listen to a neighbour go on and on about his Zimbabwe and Mugabe, which was grossly misunderstood by foreigners and beloved by his own people, of course. He also pointed out, with brows raised, that the Zimbabwe people are good Christians. Okay, good to know...
Another time I asked a neighbour how things were in Tunis (before the Tunisian Revolution, tension was rising in the country) and over an hour he raged about what a great country Tunis was and what a proud Muslim past it had, and what a prick Ben Ali was. I only asked him out of concern for his family - I didn't want a fucking propaganda speech.
Another time I was asked if I remembered my Old Testament, which I didn't (and don't). That rendered me a long speech on how fulfilling, essential and strong the message of God is, if you read it in Hebrew. Imagine if I give jackshit about the fucking Bible-thumpers nowadays. He also talked long and hard about what a special place Israel is and how history seems to (?) circulate around it.

At the same time, every time I've asked these neighbours, strangers, exchange-students if they know anything about Swedish culture, about Swedish musicians, about any kind of Western authors no one knew shit. Conclusion: They were all self-centred, egoistic and isolated idiots from monotheistic backgrounds. And I couldn't care less what happens to them.

They don't care about my culture, I don't care about theirs. Fine by me.

So, miss latte-sipping book critic, don't pretend that people from example the Middle East, South-east Asia or East Africa really know anything about Sweden, about Swedish authors and artists, because they don't. And they don't want to know anything. Their way of speaking to you makes it really obvious.
These Abraham-followers from Middle East, North Africa asf. only care about their own culture, their own religion and their own society. I don't have any problems with status quo - at least they're honest about their indifference towards us.

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