by Billy Lee - 李名信 - June 2019
Since retirement from Architectural Practice twenty years ago, I have been doing informal research on Friendship and on Cross-Cultural Person to Person Relationships. It’s quite clear that people mostly relate to each other based on trust and judgements. I have observed that many of my good friends are very cautious yet quick at making harsh judgements. They do not trust readily and they judge others rather rigidly. These friends come from different cultures – both Eastern and Western. My friends generally try to be nice and friendly, but their cautiousness and their stern deliberations on good vs. bad or right vs. wrong ultimately make real trusting or mutual acceptance difficult if not impossible. I seriously wonder why and how all that became so.
I think it is true that in both Eastern and Western Cultures all parents first try to do their very best to protect and raise their young ones. I remember my parents always alerted me on various dangerous signs – whether it was sharp metal edges, broken glass, open high-rise windows, not well-behaving playmates, or suspicious-looking people. They tried to protect me from getting hurt myself or being harmed by others by always saying “ Don’t do this. That’s dangerous. Avoid that person. That person is no good .“ “Be Careful.” While all that seem to be earnest and caring, I suspect their very simplistic teaching without holistic explanations might have caused many children to grow up and assume the worst case in all situations, and size up other people in black or white or in absolute good or evil so very quickly without hesitance.
It may be that the parents realize that the children do not have the time and maturity to quickly analyzed all the complexities in multiple shades, and the potential danger is so alarming that their children best be taught to prepare for the worst situation immediately. In making such quick judgements we also often make permanent negative assumptions on other people’s characters. We developed the tendency to define others definitively and permanently. Condemnations right or wrong always create hatred and bad feelings unfortunately, and our societies generally do not know how to encourage, redemption, or reconciliation.
I think that all parents need to protect their own children but must be careful not to teach them to make quick all black vs all white , all good vs. all evil judgements. Indeed, people in this world are not all good or all bad. Every person has good qualities and misguided qualities. We should acknowledge and promote Goodness in all people. We should identify Bad Traits and Misdeeds, but should not condemn people totally. As to parents’ teaching their children on how to relate to other children, they should point out why certain behaviors are not good but avoid total character assassination. When you judge certain children Bad and condemn them as permanently Bad, they naturally react defiantly with anger and will behave negatively. If you trust that they have intrinsic goodness in them and can learn how to embrace positive behaviors, I believe that they will embrace you as well for your kindness towards them. Most importantly, you want your own children to become kind and forgiving as well as strong and intelligent.
Recognize people’s Positives as well as Negatives, but emphasize more on People’s Goodness, please ! Cultivate people’s intrinsic Goodness should be our primary goal indeed!