Fans of Twigga please donate seriously because now is the time to donate!
Full list of articles
« dilemma | Main | wigtown film festival »

default settings

I was talking to an Iranian friend the other day - and he told me he was driving his son to and from school everyday even though the boy wanted to walk. Why? Because the boy is newly arrived from Iran and my friend 'wanted to ensure he didn't develop a hatred of Britain'. Is our neighborhood so bad? No, that wasn't it. He was being indirect, rather cunning in fact. In other words, while the boy was still ignorant of Britain he wanted to make sure his experiences were largely positive. Once the boy was better at English and more familiar with school then he could face the further adventures of walking. I would never naturally think this way. Boy wants to walk, I don't want to drive: GREAT RESULT. However I'd be missing the bigger picture, the longer term, which is what the indirect approach deals with. This approach, the indirect one, is completely characteristic of what we call, for want of a better term, 'the east'. It's a default setting there to approach things indirectly. The western default setting is to go head on- ultra direct- and screw the consequences. Obviously there are exceptions (Britain's diplomats are, or were, famous for the their indirect approaches) but by and large this direct/indirect default setting seems to fall across the west/east divide. My friend runs a restaurant. He's a practical man not an intellectual- yet his approach to life seems far more considered - because of the cultural power of his default 'indirect' problem solving method. Our intelligence is never just 'us'. If one has the fortune to be born into a culture with useful default settings (think of Japanese stoicism, Egyptian humour) then one's ahead of the game through no fault of one's own. However it seems to me I ought to 'change the factory settings' and add 'indirect' as a new default alongside the natural bulldozer.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend