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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

More about East Vs West

When I was a kid, in 2nd or 3rd grade, I used to love picking up my brother’s books and reading them. We did not have many reading material at home, and I loved to read, so all I could do was to read my brother’s books after I was done with mine. Whenever we started a new school year, I would take home all my books and pour through them all. I picked up a book called “Far Eastern History.” I didn’t know where “Far Eastern” was. I opened my brother’s atlas, and saw that “Far Eastern” meant the part of Asia roughly east of India. I was a little confused, because initially I thought Far Eastern meant America! Since if I opened my atlas, and looked at where I was (Malaysia) slightly to the east of Malaysia were the islands of the Philippines and if you go further east, you will reach the Pacific islands and the Far East you will get California! However, soon, as I started to read the text and other information that was taught to us, I began to develop a perspective that was quite foreign to me, but then I never realized it. It was a decidedly western perspective. What did I expect when my teachers were trained either in the UK or in the US, and we were following a syllabus that was preparing us for the Cambridge Senior High School Examinations? My dad used to work for an American firm, a company he joined after leaving the British Army in Malaya. So, growing up I was surrounded by “Western-ism”. No wonder "Easterners" seem to all adopt the "Western" perspective so easily. What is sad is that when Christianity is brought to their shores, people equate "Christian" with "Western". And, even the Christians seem to think so!