Monday, February 27, 2012

Wholly Agnostic

A friend of mine recently wrote a post on his blog that touched on the terminology of belief, and he briefly touched upon the terms of atheism and agnosticism (you can read his post HERE), and it got me thinking about how I generally label my thinking, which has over the last few years become entirely dominated by a growing commitment to a very deep sense of agnosticism. (I touched on this briefly in my year in review post HERE). This isn't a rebuttal to my friend's post as I generally agree with him, but more a closer look at what a deep commitment to agnosticism really looks like, and why the term is I think generally misunderstood.

When you say your agnostic most people only think this applies to some ideas about religion, and worse they often take it to indicate that you are kind of on the sideline and haven't looked close enough to have made up your mind one way or the other. In short most people look at agnostics as something akin to undecided voters the day before the some big election....the assumption is that they don't have a great grasp on the arguments that are being presented or are slightly lazy people that just haven't been paying any attention to something that is potentially quite important. This I think though is an unfortunate misconception, and while it may be applicable to a few people out there, I would make the case that anyone that has taken the time to at least come to a point that they are not just accepting what ever cultural stories were put before them has done more thinking on the topic than maybe the average person.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cultural Divide: Why Whitey Doesn't Understand South Asia

I have about 15 posts I want to write swimming around in my head, but just haven't had the time to write them. The restaurant is still not open, but each day we are moving a bit closer. Something I touched on very briefly in a previous post was how the cultural divide between Westerners and people here in Nepal is both not as wide as they first think, but at the same time very vast in areas that we at first do not really comprehend. Mostly this is due to some very fundamental assumptions made by westerners that just don't get Asia.

Back in one of my first posts I listed a couple of things I thought would take a long time to get use to (link HERE), and one of them was skin whitening creams and their kind of creepy commercials. These are found in most of Asia, be it India, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, China, etc. For us the idea that beauty is dependent on skin color is a bit too close to racism for comfort, and thus we in the west have a hard time often relating to it. But it goes a lot deeper than that. This isn't just a status thing here, many Asians look at dark skinned people the same way we in the west view obese people, just fundamentally unattractive not something that is a slight preference. Most Asians are convinced that westerners have just absolutely terrible taste in woman, mostly because we don't get too distracted by skin tone, for us it's often much more about body shape and facial features. I had a successful friend of mine who was starting to see a guy who was from southern India and somewhat dark, and all her local friends were almost aghast- "he's kind of dark isn't he?". As if surely she could find a more attractive guy with fairer skin, didn't matter that the guy was rather athletic and tall- things most western woman are more interested in. I think they find this equally unsettling as we are so white ourselves.
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