Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Umbrellas

When I was in 4th grade in the Philippines, my teacher had us look at a picture of a normal street scene in America.

Our job was to figure out what was wrong with the picture. My classmates and I did a great job, but there was still one thing more that was "wrong" with the picture and we couldn't figure out what it was.

Our teacher didn't know either.

Finally, she looked at the key, and found out that the last thing that was "wrong" was that a girl was walking in the sun with an umbrella.

None of us had noticed.

That's because, here in the Philippines, umbrellas are used when there is rain, but they are used a LOT when it's sunny. People don't want to get sun on them, because they want to stay as white as possible.
Our American textbook said it was "wrong", but really it was just different.

As we do our best to understand and become part of the culture here, there are a lot of "umbrellas in the sun" that seem wrong to us initially. But as we spend more time, we often learn that what we think of as "right" and "normal" is just our Western culture, not something Biblical.

There are things in Filipino culture (just like American culture) that are wrong. But a lot of times, it's just different.

Our job is to separate the "umbrellas" from the unnegotiables.

It's really important to take a step back on a regular basis and ask if it is God's Word, or my Western Worldview that makes me say "this is wrong". 

It might just be different, and I have to be humble and spend some more time learning the culture to understand why.

1 comment:

Sirviendo a Cristo said...

Good example of wrong vs different. We're dealing with a few of those issues as well.

I laughed when I read that they all want to be as white as possible. Bolivians are the same way.