While on my daily run, I saw a large child’s play gym set firmly on a neighbor’s front lawn. I thought… oh my, what have they done, placing that large structure on their front lawn? How silly.
As I approached the house, I kept trying to find the gym, but, it had disappeared. I wondered, could my eyes be playing tricks on me? As I ran closer to the house, I suddenly noticed that the play gym was not on the front lawn, but nicely placed in the back yard.
The angle I was running towards made it look like the play gym was on the front lawn. The road had a slight curve, and from my point of view, it looked like the gym was on the front yard, when in fact, it was in the back yard.
My mind immediately judged.
This is what happens when you travel overseas. You enter a new culture with your own set of beliefs about what you consider normal. When you realize the way they “do things there,” are not the same as how you do things, you begin to judge the other culture. You criticize and blame them for not doing things in what you consider normal.
But, what is normal? Sometimes people have very good reasons for doing things the way they do.
Experiencing culture requires that you suspend judgment. So what if my neighbor had placed his gym in the front yard. Does that mean he is dumb? Has poor taste? Is trying to annoy me? I doubt it.