I went walking through a park and came across this scene - a fly and butterfly resting on the new flowering pods of a different looking plant. The walk was pleasant as I enjoyed the sun's warmth on an autumn day only hours from Shanghai, China. China is teaching many things, not only about China, but about myself. I've been reading a novel by David Rotenberg called Shanghai, a book I borrowed from my home library in Canada as an e-book. It was interesting to me how just a short while after taking this photo I came across these words in the book:
". . . their beliefs were their beliefs. They brooked no questioning. Neither their failures nor their successes with the people of the Middle Kingdom had altered an article of their faith - or enticed them into any form of rational thought." (David Rotenberg, Shanghai, page 907)These words "fit" right into what I have been talking about in terms of religion and the damage that externalizing "God" has on the psyche. I see the same damage being done by expats who deny the evidence in front of them in order to hold to preconceived ideas of what China is and what the people of this country are. Ethnocentrism is gripped firmly as though to let go of these beliefs would cause them to lose heaven. These people become blind to the land and its people.
As one would expect, it's a two-way street with both sides holding fast to their beliefs about self, the chosen people, and others, the heathens, gentiles, laowai, étranger, ragheads, chinks, nips, kikes, spicks, niggers . . . the list is too long, too painful to even write.
But what happens when one tosses out these derogatory and distancing terms? What happens when one tosses out the beliefs that keep a fine-line separation between "I" and "other," between "self" and the spiritual aspect of self that is cast out and exalted as "God?"
I don't know the answer, but I am living it.