Thursday, November 05, 2009

Time or Event orientated?

One thing for sure is that culture is different all around the world. Culture within culture is different and you can´t escape culture - you are in it. This is seen by how you dress, what you watch, what you do in your spare time, how your family functions, how you view people, how you communicate and how you see things as right and wrong. No culture is perfect, but we can learn from each culture.
I have been learning a lot about peruvian culture and my own culture. Its very easy to tar with one brush, but I can only comment on what I see, which I know is limited.

I come from a culture that has very high stress levels. Everything is about time and nearly everyone wears a watch. Time wasting is seen as bad. If you have left someone waiting for 10 min you have to apologise for wasting their time. Because time is precious and the more effeciant you are with time the more you get done. When I was doing Relay I had a 2 hour planner that allowed me to plan and schedule everything down to eating and sleeping - this was so I got more done in the day. Although honestly it was very hard to keep. But in the west this is normal, time is a priority and we cant waste it.

But I have now entered a new culture and the use of time is different. The culture here is seen as more event orientated. The concern isnt about how much time I spend with a person or if I am late, the concern is the people I am with and the event taking place and whether I am making the most of it. Its made it clear to me that when I was in England it was very easy to think of the next thing. For example, when I am in the middle of a coffee with someone I think about what time it is, how long left and whats the next thing I am gonig to do (not always, but sometimes)... But that kind of attitude doesnt fit here - its out of place because if I show this attitude it means I am saying that I dont care about the person I am with or the event I am in and I am more concerned about the task ahead. Although, even in England - what does that show about my attitude?

It is difficult not to compare and we must adapt to what ever culture we are in. I also know that one isn´t better then the other, but I wonder as a christian whether sometimes our attitude to time isn´t good? Sometimes we need to slow down and start to spend time with people and not worry about the task ahead or trying to get done as much as possible in a day. Sometimes my days here are filled with being with people and not having a diary but just seeing what happens. I know this doesnt suit everyone and it can be frustrating, perhaps some would see that a waste of time. But it changes the way you think and how you view each moment. It means you dont fill your diary up with thing after thing and not leave any room for a person to call or drop by. Its also one way to build relationships and share the Gospel that suits this culture and I am learning so much from it. But how much of this will stay with me when I return and how much of it will be recieved well or seen as a waste of time?

1 comment:

Phil Duncalfe said...

Sounds like Peru is my kind of country. Its very easy to get caught up in the time oriented attitude but most third world countries and even places like Italy and France can teach a lot about enjoying what you are doing now and not worrying about the next day or hour. They do 'chilling out' naturally and I think they are happier for it.