East & West meet. Inblick 2020:53 Österland & västerland mötas.

 I have always been concerned that it is so self-evident to many people that it is their culture that is the greatest and that they cannot see it from the customs and usages of others.  Ultimately, there is one culture that applies and that is the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God consists of righteousness, peace and joy and not in temporal things like food and drink, how to go to the toilet, etc. Who is uncivilized and who is civilized?  We Westerners who wipe ourselves with paper in the toilet or Indians who eat with their hands?  When East and West meet, let us receive each other kindly and tolerate each other’s differences.  Who says our culture is the best?  In the world, the cradle of civilization is said to lie in Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt and India.  Neither points geographically to Western Europe, but to present-day Iran, Syria, Turkey, Egypt and India.

 My first mother-in-law was from India and thought that Europeans are unhygienic who use paper to dry themselves in the toilet.  Rinsing your butt with water is more hygienic, especially with a hand shower.  Poured water in a bucket is more dubious, I think, which she did not have to worry about as a middle-class Christian.  Eating with bare hands, in the Indian way, is considered by most Europeans to be barbaric, but she believes that we are unhygienic, who do not have a hand so clean that we can use it to eat with.  In better restaurants, a bowl of water is provided to wash your hand both before and after the meal.  In addition to going to the toilet which consists of a hole in the ground as in many places in the east, how uncivilized is that?  Well, science has come to the conclusion that crouching is the best way for the body to do number two.  It becomes easy constipation with our nice high toilets!  Maybe many stomach issues would be just a memory if we lowered the toilet seat?

 My first mother-in-law was racist against whites, as my father was against blacks.  She believed that all women in Europe are like whores.  Strange that she still used an umbrella against the sun, when she came to the Swedish summer?  Why want to be as white as possible if it is something bad in itself?  Maybe not to stand out?  Which she definitely did, as we use an umbrella here against rain and not against sunshine.  We let the sun’s rays shine upon us and our white faces.  Why, on the other hand, do we want to be as brown as possible?  Especially considering those who are racist against blacks?  However, my dad is mostly in the shadows, but it probably depends more on the age than on the skin color.  A friend from Congo can easily carry heavy food bags on her head, perhaps an ability we often do not possess or use in the west, but I do not think it can be said that it would be uncivilized.  I am impressed by the phenomenon, even though it is not a fond memory for her.  When she was last forced to carry 40 kg on the head of real slave drivers, when she was on the run from an area in war with barbarism regarding both rapes and crimes.

During my husband Peters and my mission trips abroad, we have experienced a lot of oddities. In South Africa, people often drink tea or coffee before meals and not after. In Argentina and Brazil, they share “mate” a kind of soothing strong tea in a thermos, which goes around. My first thought was “unhygienic”. In these places, the rich have maids, which is completely natural and civilized for them. But we saw them as slaves and wanted to “raise” them to our level, whereupon they either became uncomfortable or stopped working. In Vietnam, we went in search of a restaurant without a rat on the menu, but after a time-consuming search, we ended up ravenously hungry in an alley where they could not speak English. Whether we ate chicken or rat, the story does not tell. Barbaric, unenlightened, lowly, primitive, uncultivated is the meaning of uncivilized. Do we have any right to accuse other cultures of being that, just because they have different customs than we do? If we are to reach for something, it is not to become more civilized, that is, to be clean, cultured, orderly, enlightened, decent, but to become more Christlike. We should not “sit on high horses” and beat our chests just because we come from the West, but humble ourselves under the hand of God and each other.

”Bear with each other…”
Col 3:13 a

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