Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I'll Show You Some Respect

There was an article how Asian-Americans, previously the intermarriage masters, are realizing the benefits of shared backgrounds when selecting a spouse. 

This passage jumped out at me: 
Ms. Le is a gregarious, ambitious corporate lawyer, but in her parents’ home, she said, “There’s a switch that you flip.” In their presence, she is demure. She looks down when she speaks, to demonstrate her respect for her mother and father. She pours their tea, slices their fruit and serves their meals, handing them dishes with both hands.  
The point of this anecdote in the article was how white boyfriends were freaked by this display of filial respect; Le eventually wed an Indian-American who implicitly understood respectful submission to parents. 

But for me, I was jolted, comprehending my suckiness in my own kibud av v'eim. Seriously, read what she does; everything I don't and should.
And talk about respecting elders!
Ed Lin . . . said that his wife, Lily Lin, had given him a deeper understanding of many Chinese traditions.“She brings to the table a lot of small nuances that are embedded culturally,” Mr. Lin said of his wife, who has also encouraged him to serve tea to his elders and refer to older people as aunty and uncle. 
I like to flatter myself that I know how to treat those older than me, but every time I want to refer to my aunt and uncle as "Aunt" and "Uncle," the labels stick in my throat. I even attempted using the Hungarian terms, Néni and Bácsi, which I always called my great-aunt and -uncles so easily, but for more immediate family I lamely wimp out. 

One thing's for sure, I'm not letting no article think that Asians have a monopoly on respect. Sure, their cultures have been around as long as ours, but two can play that game. 

So I challenge my fellow frummies: Let us remind the world who can do the real respecting. 


Anonymous said...

My exact reaction when I read the description you excerpted... boy do I need to shape up... You're absolutely great! I read many blogs but I vote yours number one- behind your clever theories and interesting anecdotes I see a wholesome, confident, growth-oriented and down to earth individual who just wants to make the most out of life. Good for you and keep it up!

tesyaa said...

Why does it need to be a contest? Why not admire Asians, period, while working on your own behavior in a non-competitive fashion?

There's this need to prove frum Jews are the best; it's not always true, and even if it is true, it's not necessary to prove it.

Princess Lea said...

Anon: I have definitely turned pink. Thank you.

Tesyaa: How did I prove our "best"ness? If anything, I am disproving it; we are given a positive commandment, while the Asian culture is operating on common sense and decency alone.

I just heard at a shiur that the only time we can be jealous is of others middos, to use them as an inspiration and incentive. And nothing inspires like a little ol' fashioned competition.

%Shocked% said...

@tesyaa: I completely disagree. "A light unto the nation" means exactly that. To be the best and show the world what is the true and best way to live life. We don't always succeed- oftentimes don't- but we are held to a higher standard (which I coincidentally just blogged about tonight) and have to do our best to live up that.

If someone is the best at something that we also have to do, why doesn't it make sense to try and be the best? If it's something (relatively) worthless than fine, but something that we have to do...? How could we not try?