Privilege: Your Own Silent Super-Hero

Discussion Question:
What is privilege?

Choose a side:
Team A), Team B), Team D), etc: _______________________________ .

Teh Portly Dyke: Privilege--Your Own Silent Super-Hero

Taipei Discussion of Privilege

Privilege. If someone has privilege, it means they have more rights than average people. When I see the word privilege, I think of two kinds of people. Politicians, and the other one businessmen. They are privileged. I also think privilege means maybe they are VIP in the world, they have some license to do what they want.

Privilege is a special entitlement or immunity granted by a gvt or other authority to a restricted group.

So you’re saying privilege is given. Is it given from the top only, or can it be given from the bottom.

I don’t know, but they’re talking about a special advantage. But in many fields, there’s a special advantage. Talk about a man, they have a special privilege or advantage.

I think it’s taking the advantage to let things become smoothly. It’s just like the air, we take it for granted, and we don’t feel of it. Just like people take advantage of water resources every day, more than other animals and plants, but we don’t feel it, we aren’t aware of it.

I think privilege is an advantage and a benefit and a dispensation.

Opening statements
Team A:
Awareness of Privilege is a kind of awareness of other people situations or circumstances. Usually we take most things we can do or we have for granted, and ignore other people’s situations or what they thin. If you have to figure things out for yourself to understand their circumstances, usually people have to lots of works about thinking. You have to think deeply to discover this fact.

Team B:
Privilege if you have define it you have to have comparison first, then you can tell do people have privilege or not. I think somehow Privilege exists because people compare themselves with each other, their status, to define themselves as different. You have to have poor people to know you are a rich person. This a human trait or quality.

I absolutely agree with Mary’s opinion.

Who confers privilege, is a good place to begin.

It’s transmitted by birth. If someone is born in a rich family, they have privilege.

But why is rich privileged?

Because money talks.. because you have to have those skills to keep things going and get what you want. I don’t know how these things begin, but very long ago, people pick out things fro exchange, and money was invented to make exchange simple. if you have more money, you can get more of what you want. And those guys who have more things are more powerful. Because they can also hire people. I think that’s the main problem. Because they can give money to others to ask them to do what they want, kind of hierarchy stuff, that’s where privilege comes from.

Very great point!

Power, people have power if they got money, people become your boss. So sometimes if they ask you to do things, they got the privilege to ask the kinds of things you’re maybe not really interested in doing, so maybe that’s a privilege.

So where does the privilege come from, from the actual pieces of metal.
Privilege is a social construct, right?

So do you mean from consensus? Agreement of …

Who is agreeing that this person is powerful?

Society? Society gives the advantage.

Why do you need their money? What if you could grow your own food?

So it’s kind of an economical problem.

I think that maybe the media deliver the message to all of us, that rich men can own many things and the media emphasize all things belong to the rich man, gives us a good impression. And in our mind we will always think, you can solve any problem if you are rich. So I just think the image usually given by maybe the media or the tv.

But I think it’s true, because you have the money. The rich men they want to do something different, so they will go to the shop during off hours, behind closed doors, because they have more power. And I think it is difficult to avoid the situation. Because in company, in school, in Taipei or Taiwan, it always happen. And I also think if we are poor, that’s okay, we have another way to get privilege, by becoming politicians, we don’t need to follow some rules, maybe we can argue with someone or say some dirty language without fear, because we are a legislator.

The qualities that people has, the personalities, the things that cannot be measured by money.

But can just anyone get rich or be a politician?

Maybe we can sort of give examples of the kinds of privilege of people being privileged and being aware of it or not.

Male privilege, is it true?

Yes, it’s true.

I think it’s been the case since ancient times. Males always have privilege.

Maybe a company, if there are female staff and male staff, and they are all good at their work, but if there’s only one superior position, they always pick the male. They have more opportunity to be the manager.

And many people if their boss is female, they will feel,.,,


They will think they can’t do it. Just like the example.

I think in this example the major reason is that she’s black, not a man.

Top designers are males.

But they’re mostly gay, because they have sensitive, so they understand men and women.

So why aren’t there a lot more lesbian designers?

Well why do women always sell cosmetics?

But I think white privilege is a very popular topic in America. I found his website with many opinions and discussions to talk about white privilege. I think it’s very serious in America.

For example?

It’s very difficult to find a black president in America. It’s seems so difficult for the people to accept a black president. So I heard about Hillary and Obama, but Obama may be the vice president, just because he is an African America.

I think the main problem of Obama is he’s lacking political experience. Those commentators like to talk about his political experience, because sometimes he’s saying stuff which is politically incorrect.

But they’re being deliberately ignorant of the issue that he’s black.

I read an opinion piece comparing Obama and Hilary, and saying that Hilary was better. I’m not quite sure if it’s the privilege things that’s happening here.

So can the us accept a woman or a black in power.

Recently in Hollywood, it’s all black men in power, so based on that, I think Obama will win.

Lately, I’ve noticed that we call bush and Obama by their last names, and Hilary by her first name.

So will you vote for her?

Well, I’d like to just because she’s a woman, but I’m not sure she’s going to act with women’s interests in mind. Because she is put in power by other people by supporters, who are mostly men. So she has to act with their interests first in mind. which brings us back to the first point, where does power come from, is it given from above, or given by below? We actually give other people power and privilege.

These people have power, have something you don’t have, so they can give you things.

Yes, but my point is why should we support them, instead of envy them?

Because you have people confronting those people, probably there are people who try to confront those people with money and something we don’t have and those people who don’t have things are the losers in the confrontations, so we don’t want to support them.

So you’re saying we don’t want to support the losers?

Yes. Because we are kind of selfish from an economical viewpoint. Because we want to gain our own benefit, after evaluating, if we support people with money, or those white people will be good for us. It’s a benefit exchange. It’s not just giving them power, it’s also gaining something. even if it’s a little, it’s more than you had before. Just like businessmen who donate money to those who have more probability to win the election.

So let’s put it in Taiwan terms. Would you support Annette Lu for president, as a woman?

She doesn’t talk much, so I don’t know what her real opinions are.


Because as the vice president, President Chen asks her to keep silent. So when Chen Shuibien flies to another country, maybe she hopes that his plane will crash.

I would not vote for her, not because she is a woman, because of her personality. She always like to everyone knows her thinking way is better than the president. I think she is not a team player.

No, I think she is too, I can’t find the word, tough!

But don’t presidents need to be tough?

I think Hilary and Annette Lu are too tough for men.

Wait, are you saying other people wouldn’t vote for her, or you wouldn’t.

She’s not the proper president for Taiwan. Because the political situation is very complicated and her style may increase the tension.

It depends who’s running against her?

Why, who do you like better? Ma Yingjieu?

Because he his handsome, and strong.

Yeah, kind of, because he has a better public image.

But if it were her and him, id vote for her! Because I’d like a real woman!

Oh, you want a real woman, not a man like a woman!

Yes, but also, she has a solid status for her policy. But Ma Yingjieu has a soft

He’s squishy on the issues.

Yes! So I’d rather vote for her.

Are we evaluating them on being men or women, or are we evaluating them on leadership capabilities?

It think it’s 40/60, or more like 20/80, 40 or 20 is sex, and 60 and 80 are individuals.

Closing statements
30 seconds;
I think today’s class is interesting, both the article and the discussion.

30 sec
I think this class we talk about the privilege. Its an advantage, a right, a dispensation, a benefit. It comes from society recognition.

from this article and the discussion, I think privilege is a kind of circle problem. Some people provide it, some people accept it, and it happen. And there’s the example of some branded bank freely provide their bags to the movie star, and the journalist take the photo and put in the magazine, and all of us buy it, because we want to be the same as the star and purchase the bag. And that branded bag become popular. So branded companies have successful, and continue to provide free bags to movies stars, giving them the privilege. Some people provide it and some people accept.

30 sec
I think privilege is kind of benefit exchanging thing, after this class. Before I thought it was a psychological or social issue. But now I think it’s because of economic issues, and exchange of benefits.

30 seconds.
I think everyone made a good definition of privilege I think it means we can use special way to make things smooth for us. In the past we always needed to just accept it, but today we can use the media to expose or change the situation. And during the class I just think: if you had the chance at privilege, would you take it? The answer is yes.

Hsinchu Discussion of Privelege

Dark skin means you work in the sun, so it means you do physical low-paid labor. If you had white skin it was likely you got to spend all your time indoors, meaning you had money, so white skin historically has meant having ownership.

Why do we like to put people into groups?

Because being an individual is vulnerable. We feel safer in groups.

Because it’s easier to understand people

…to identify who they are where they’re from.

if you can identify them with a group, it’s because you know the group, then you’re not dealing with something unknown.

I agree with Inglen. Maybe we want to know this guy come from or what group he belongs to because we can interact him or her with their social language.

We can predict what they’re going to do or say.

I’m curious, are you an American, have the same idea with us. We think British are more conservative, and German people practical and French are more

Stereotypes have a grain of truth. A group is more easy to follow the stereo type, than an individual.

When you’re in a group, you work to fit into it, so you’re more likely to reflect the values of the group, so you’re more likely to act stereotypically

And individuals, it’s much harder to apply stereotypes to individuals, but its still possible, because we sometimes act in stereotypical ways.

But the problem with stereotypes is…

Why is stereotype a negative word.

It means that you’re all the same, you have no creativity.

If you identify a member of a group with a stereotype, it’s easy to dismiss them as unimportant.

In Chinese culture if you are the first son or grandson in the family, he will get more larger privilege than other levels. Even higher than his aunts.

Closing statements
in this one minute I’m going to talk something about Inglen. It’s amazing, we’ve been here for a couple of time, it’s amazing to see her express herself very time…If I were your age right now, with this attitude of yours, but I still feel so good about her, how she is so bold with her vocabulary and sentence structure. I so want to be able to go back and be like her at that age. To have this kind of courage, from like 10 minutes ago, when you are so brave. I feel happy to see that.

actually I like to have any privilege, and I think we should not proud of privilege if we really have some privilege.

first, thank you sue. I always ask myself to dismiss the first impression of others. I kept the positive opinion to everything. Of course sometimes I will be depressed by things, but I still deal with the situation. Maybe if a take a good look at my situation and my study and my advisor, he thinks I’m great and assigns a lot of work to help her finish her job. My classmates probably wonder about why. I am always the first assigned to do something. I think I work harder than others, and if my advisor assigns the job I won’t sleep till its done, so I can always finish my work. He trusts my ability and he trusts me. I don’t feel it’s a privilege, but I try to do my best for everything. I try to keep focused on the main situation, not on what others thing.

I think as she said, all things have two sides. I think everyone has unique privilege, I don’t think its good or bad. So women might have privilege to be weak, but then they hit the glass ceiling. Males have privilege to have promotion, but then males have pressure to support their family. So we just cherish our privilege and also have to think about the bad side.


Questions to Ponder
1. Are you entitled?
2. Is entitlement ‘how things are’? Can it be changed?
3. Is racism a form of entitlement?
4. Is sexism?
5. How about consumerism?

6. What does this sentence from the first article mean?
“And what of the people who take advantage of the … oppressed, … who compare their iniquities against … Anderson's and see … a reassuring distance?”
7. Do you agree with the author of the first article, when she says,
“There is only saying no to the indignities one human visits upon another—prejudice, hatred, humiliation and pain—or saying yes.”

8. What does ‘respecting your parents’ mean in Chinese culture?
9. What does ‘respecting others’ mean in Chinese culture?
10. Is ‘respect’ in the Confucian ideal separable from hierarchical social structure?

Discussion Question:
What is respect?

Choose a side:
Team A) Respect is ‘giving face’ and avoiding causing people to ‘lose face’ by observing proper social behavior and conforming with social custom.
Team B) Respect is accepting others’ personality, choices and actions without expecting them to conform to your own personality choices and actions.
Team C)   Moderator
Team D) Respect is ___________________.

Shakesville: All-In
No Impact Man: Are We Too Selfish To Change?

Taipei Discussion of Entitlement

Opening statements
Team B
I think respect is a kind of understanding. There are many kinds of people and different character, habit, environments of in their growing process. So the most important part is understanding others. This is the best way to get along with others.

I think everyone has their right to live in the world, and everyone is equal. Even though its hard to accept others without expecting them to conform, we still find the balance of social behavior to us. there is a balance of the evil heart of our thought, ignoring others’ feelings and thinking you are more excellent than others in the world. It’s a balance between loving yourself and loving other people.

Team D:
I think team a and team b combined is my point. Team a is how you get along with others, and team b is, I think they’re both ways of getting along with others.

I think we all agree team a and b are similar, there’s some grey areas. It’s a culture things. When you do business and negotiate with different kinds of people , when with Chinese, you have to use Chinese ways to make things work. But what if you deal with a Jewish person. You probably have to do it a different way. I think that Willie brought up an interesting word, “understanding” because no one would hurt anyone else if they understood them. So how do you understand other people, and how do you understand understanding? Sometimes when we have communicate with people, but understanding is a difficult thing, you thing you’ve communicated, but in fact there’s a misunderstanding.

I think it’s hard to define accept. Is it something you pay to others, or you accept. I read all the way through the article. I looked at this guy Anderson’s behavior, and I wonder, is he worth respect. I can kind of agree that you have to understand others. But you can only understand someone when you stand in his shoes. But if you always use your own way to understand others, are you really understanding them, it’s not really respecting them. I mostly agree team a, team b, but I disagree a little bit at the same time.

Were you saying that understanding is not the road to respect.

I think understanding is a very kind behavior, but it is not respect.

I think before we were talking about respect, there’s lots of things we have to learn. You have to know things first, then you have to understand, then you realize, then it comes to respect. So before respect there’s lots of things you have to learn, and embrace.

Is respect an attitude or a concept?

It’s more like an attitude, a surface, and a learning process. Because before respect, we probably make a lot of mistakes of ourselves. But before you have to have a process.

I think giving face is like respect to people who are older than you, like parents or boss.

Do you need understanding to give that kind of respect?

Some you don’t know them, and some you do, but you have to give them respect.

Are Mary and Charlie talking the same word?

So you seem to be talking team a!

Giving face!

But sometimes it’s more than that. Sometimes people do really good things, and you just have to respect them..

So team a is outer behaviour, and team b is inner thinking.

What an insight.

So team b is all about heart.

That’s why we couldn’t take a definite stand on team a or team b.

So team b is saying inner is better than outer, right?

But I think respect is more inner definition, because if you are just like mary said, if the respect is team a, what team a respect is is more polite to other people. And maybe if polite is giving face,

it’s not true respect.

Right! It’s political. So if we talke about respect, I think it’s more inner.

When you say political, what do you mean?

Why I don’t choose team a, it’s just because I don’t think it’s true, it’s not heartfelt, it’s shallow. But I think respect is deeper than that.

I think she’s totally right. The concept of team a is the same as my feleling. I also think there’s different levels of respect. So that’s why I’m team D

So you should join team B!

Wait, did you hear the last thing she said? Tell her again.

So that’s why I’m team D


So you think respect is also a social custom?

If you follow the social custom and make the things work, it’s one kind of respect.


For Chinese, giving face is something you would take for granted when dealing with Chinese. You couldn’t deny it. Why don’t you open up your heart.

Wait, what do you mean?

Admit it, giving face is something you look down on. Take me for an example. When I was younger, I couldn’t realize this idea. But now I realize you have to accept the world as it is to learn. If you deny reality, you make things harder for yourself. For me, now, I’m still learning.

But I have a point that if team a is also correct, why I see many Chinese tv programs series about ancient china. When they are talking about gvt or blah blah blah, they are respect…

Hierarchy is everywhere!

No, I’m not talking about that. If I go to someones house, and they are higher level than me, and I’m very polite, but in my heart, I don’t respect him at all, do you know what I mean?

So then why do you go to his house? Then you don’t have to suffer this self struggle.

But if “Respect is ‘giving face’ and avoiding causing people to ‘lose face’ by observing proper social behavior and conforming with social custom.” Is this real respect.

I’m saying if you follow up social custom, that’s one kind of respect, it’s following social custom. You’re not pretending to do something you don’t like.

So isn’t team a pretending?

I think being polite is one level of respect.

I agree, it’s a social custome, right, I obey the social custome. But does respect come from your heart, or is it just from behavior.

Can’t it be a balanced way?

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying

No, but what I’m saying is, you can’t have black or white, there’s lots of grey. A balanced way is what makes you comfortable.

Many times I will come to this class I will mix my position of team a and b. but this time, I still think respect is an inner condition.

Yes, of course!

I don’t want to deny team a’s position, but it hink the definition of team a is more about polite, not respect. I’m not denying your position, I totally agree, but I think

I think you’re just stuck by something spontantious, or you do it on the surface. But it’s not a contrast thing, it’s not black kor white.

I don’t think they are contrasted.

Actually, you kind of are.

I kind of have a mixed opiionn. Because I think somehow polite is a kind of respect. It’s one of the social skills. Lyou need to live with others, so respect also means how much you can tolerate others, how much you can sacrifice your own dignity to accept others’ odd behaviour. So I think the concept of team a is a kind of respect, but it’s kind of fake.


Hey, I know what you mean, it’s not that I don’t.

Because we have to struggle to get along in this world, so fake respect is necessary somehow. And at first I thought team b was truly respect others, but now I think its about tolerating people, sacrificing your dignity for the sake of others.

So daughter/mother. Daughter is not giving mother face, mother is not sacrificing dignity for sake of daughter.

See, this is where understanding comes in. if each can understand the other then they can respect the other.

I think the mother expect her daughter to conform to her own moral system. So she want to press her daughter to do what she want her to do.

I think it’s what, that’s what understanding is about. In my opinion, understanding is the thing that you can understand the reason others do it. From others point of view you can know that what he or she is doing is understandable, because they have their own considerations. I think the reason why is that when we see others have different actions or opinions from our expectation, we have a tendency to adjust them to our own side. But in fact if you can try to understand others, two or three or more people might have a chance to converse, and make better decision about the situation.

So exactly how is the mother supposted to understand the daughter, and vice versa.

I just found the definitionof team d on my own. Understanding when someone needs to be given face, understanding when things need to be more smooth, understanding that the daughter needs to be given more space, understanding that the mother needs

But don’t you think that what they each have mutually exclusive needs? I put lots of emphasis on understanding, but I think it’s just the first step. Then there has to be an attempt to communicate. It depends on the circumstances. Basically they have to talk to each other more about it. Like how my parents and I negotiate. First we have to state our needs, then we come up with a solution later. Just like what angela said, just like a political propaganda thing. Your decision has lots of things in the background. If htye just know your solution, the first reaction is to reject, because they don’t know why you think so, or why you decide to do so.
So understanding is the first step toward respect.
I think respect is an attitutde. You have to be willing to talk to each other, and then all things followj.

So you choose team d?

Mmm, I think my stand has drifted a little. But I don’t like team a, because I don’t like giving face. It’s just a kind of politeness. Actually you don’t really have to really respoect other people to be polite. It’s just what we were taught form the time we were born. So I think team a is kind of

Mayr is neutral.

She’s always neutral, but today she’s being a bit more vague than usual.

You’re usually neutral.

Everyone can have their own opinion. We don’t necessarily all have to be the same. We all encounter different ideas. There’s no right or wrong. It’s just a concept.

Yes, mary is always neutral! Because we other people we prefer one side, but mary, she is an angel. Do you remember fanny, she said that too!

No, I just don’t quite good about arguig with others.

But everytime you have to choose a side, you’re always in the between.

So have you ever voted?

Yes, what’s your color

Hey, that’s not cool.

That’s different, that’s easy to decide. But here, it’s not clear.

That’s why I’m asking,w hat is your color?

She’s white, because she’s an angel

But doctors also wear white!

Because they have to be neutral.

I’m usually neutral, but sometimes I’m more extreme. I think I’m more neutral recently.

Really? I think you’re more extreme recently!

Oh, really?

Was us talking about mary just now, was that respectful?

Well, it doesn’t really matter, it’s just a discussion.

I think labeling people is disrespectful, even if you mean it nicely.

But I think this is an important question. Even if everyone is laughing and easy with each other, someone might still not be happy with the conversation. Especially for Chinese or Japanese, they don’t dare to share their true feelings. So I don’t know if joking with people is upsetting them.

Yes, and they may not feel respected by you.

So are they lacking social respect or inner respect from the group.

I think it’s an inner thing.

Okay, why?

It depends on how much you know about each other, when a group of friends talking about some jokes, one of them might feel uncompfortable, its kusually that others don’t know it, it might be their weakness that he hides from others, or a shadow from his or her childhood. From my point of view, sometimes I’ll tell one or two of my closer friends about what I feel about their conversations, because I don’t really feel comfortable about it, and don’t want to hear about it again, not that I’ll be mad, just that I don’t like it. You have to tell them first. If you don’t tell others, they’ll never know, so you can’t blame others not telling you

Why didn’t you just tell him exactly?

Because I didn’t want to break up the goodwill.

Sure, you kind of communicated, but just being…
If you just told him calmly, with out anger, you could have communicated your discomfort.

But I think he actually did get the message, even though you weren’t very obvious.

Actually I might have had the same reaction, I’’m not happy with the joke but I want to keep the balance.

So you actually were respectful to him…

But at the same time I lost respect in my heart.

So, that’s why polite is not equal to respect!

But, so how do you negotiate this kind of conflict, between face respect and heart respect? Vis a vis the daughter/mother, or the conference room joke.

It’s very hard to talk to older people, and to change their mind set. You have to find a idffferent way to do it, like by writing a letter.

What happened to your friend is very common in Taiwan, this kind of generation gap. It just takes time to make it work. You can’t solve it immediately. Like a long term relationship, You have to maintain it, and manage it. Like in my family, it’s about timing and the kind of approach.

Like, the advantages of sending a letter is that it gives them time to cool down. They have a chance to think about it. For those elderly people, the most important thing in their eyes is attitude. They actually don’t listen to words, they care about how you express, and don’t even realize what you are talking about.

This sounds like hierarchy.

You know what’s lucky? It’s that your firend is dealing with her mother. This kind of relationship won’t cause any injury

Well, not physically.

My ex-boyfriend said that parents would never hit their children.

That’s bullshit.

No, what I mean is, parents will always forgive their children.

That’s also bullshit!

But mother and daughter is the trickiest person.

But I want to ask, is, do they really listen to each other? Are they calme when they talke to each other.

Hey, that’s another point. If one person is willing to communicate with the other, but the other is not then what do you do?

It’s a vicious cycle.

But the worst is, if you treat someone bad, then they usually treat themselves bad.

Okay, but how do you get them to communicate with you? Writing a letter, sure, but if they still don’t want to?

Give them a gift! If you do something nice for them, they want to feel nicer towards you!

If I love you but you keep rejecting me, it wont’ hurt me at all!

That’s self confidence!

I would just keep asking you about positive thinking, it’s the same as confidence, it’s just learning how to love yourself, and love others, and you just learn from the mistakes.

Maybe, because it’s mother and daughter, so it’s really difficult to compromoise. It’s not something small, it’s about a person’s free will about her own life, so maybe they only have to wait for years to pass, and maybe some new things will happen.

I think both things, you have to both try and be patient to wait.

I think parents just want things the way things are. I think the parents should changer herself first. She denies to show her goodness to her mother. One way to change the situation, is to show warmth and break the ice.

But the mother has to change too. You can’t compromise on the one you love!

Oh, maybe the mother is thinking about for her own good.

Maybe the parents think they have more life experience, so they think they have better advice.

But that’s bullshit too, because we live in a different world!

But they force us! They are control freaks.

Your friend, she’s not alone!!!

Closing statements 20 seconds
I think we should think much more deeply about respect

I liked today’s topic

I just think that you guys are very lovely, and I enjoy this class!

I think we have talk about respect deeply, because I think respect may be inner, but we also talk about…..[beep!]

I had a better chance to think more deeply about this topic in these two hours, because I first only thought about understanding, but now I’ve got some more to think about.

Hsinchu Discussion of Entitlement

On Voting—
Making wrong decision is better than making no decision at all, because you can learn from the mistake.

If you know them very well, and you know both of them are not very good, you still will vote for …

The better one. I still have some hope. If you don’t vote, one will still be picked, so you might as well try to get the better one ine.

Just now you said you cannot keep quiet when you see something wrong. I don’t mean elections. When you see something wrong.

Well, I don’t speak out often.

I know it’s difficult when the situation is complicated, we see lots of people keeping quite and not talking about the bad things around them and the think, it’s not my business.

It all depends. I don’t do it all the time. If there’s a risk you still have to protect yourself first. But if there’s a way I can do it without risk, I’ll do it. You have to go there and do it. If I’m safe, I can live to another day, to right another wrong.

But when you see teenagers with wrong opinions, do you try to tell them when it’s wrong?

Well, if it’s an emergency, you can call for help, and not just jump in for yourself. Doing something doesn’t mean you have to go in there.

I mean, if something not good happened, not dangerouse…

For example, when waiting to buy a ticket for movies, if someone cuts the line, I will say, politely of course, but I will say, are you in a hurry? If not, I got here first! You have to think first before you do it, but you can also get help.

You have to do it politely and subtly, but you have to do it.

But I mean something bad happen around you, is not a dangerous thing, maybe you find a colleage tries to interrupt other people’s marriage, or try to steal money from the company. Not such kind of instinct danger, just do bad things, would you keep quiet and let go and see it happen, or would you try to convince them?

I had a manager who got some bribes from a company, and she offers some bribes from her staff.

What would you do?

I would say, thanks, and not take it, but keep my mouth shut.

I would not work for this kind of boss.

Of course you say in your mind, I know who you are, I don’t want to work for you.

But if you don’t take the money, they’re more likely to try to hurt you.

So it’s difficult.

If you have little to lose, you can afford to be a big mouth, but if you have a lot to lose, you cant afford.

I’d like to join Team b, but with one condition, there’s a limit to the authority, they can’t do all of what they want all the time. The limit to freedom is authority.

Opening statements
For me, respect is Respect is accepting others’ personality, choices and actions without expecting them to conform to your own personality choices and actions. Perfect. For me, definitely.
Everyone has his own personality and actions, IF they are responsible for the result. Someone doing something bad, and he thinks it’s good, that’s fine, if he’s willing to take responsibility.

Respect is Respect is accepting others’ personality, choices and actions
Because ifi you don’t accept other people’s personality it’s difficult for me to respect you.
If it’s just about giving face, I can’t truly respect this person. It’s got to be about his personality, his corevalues, his decent beharious, etc. if these are all good, then I can sincerely respect him, not just only consider giving space and avoiding losing face. But I think, for example, we respect one great person in the world in history, it must be based on many things that person has done. But it’s not so easy to respect a person only knowing them a short period of time, because it’s too hard to know them in such a short period It takes a while to observand understand sb. but when you find out he’s got the right qualities, then you can.

So many children are taught to listen to others. We are taught to be the typical, to be like the model of what children should be. WE are look like weaker or less of ability to compare with others, like other countries or peope. But now, learn from the western countries, our students are encouraged to express our opinions. It looks like totally the opposite way. Now students and children always like to expres themselves, but don’t listen to others at all. In this situation, lots of arguments or struggles happen, because noone wants to communicate. This is why I say we have to respect other’s difference, but we shouldn’t hurt others because they are different from us. And we shouldn’t take advantage of others because we want to win or be superior to other.

Respect to others is generated from a deep heart, from someone you admire. His personality and heart make you admire them. So what I want to say jaqueline said better.

Team a;
I chose team I because it mentioned conforming with social customs. Team b did not address this. It’s important from a macro view. If a president from phillipine or south Africa comes…for instance, if he kills people, and he’s allowed to do it in his country, he still would not be welom here. It could work in his country, but not in our. “I can accept him without expecting him to conform to our choices” doesn’t cover this situation.

People are different. How do you expect them
to conform to your own personality choices and actions?

You expect people to conform?

No, team a is about conforming to social custom. If I go to an Arabic country and always s want to eat pork, it’s not respectful to their social custom.

Ok, I have a question about team a. you mean you only observe proper social behavior. You don’t care about it’s true value? I mean, you just want to keep people from losing face? And you just observe their social custom? If the country has many bad rules, you think it’s right to respect these bad rule? It’s okay to respect a person who doesn’t have his own core values, and just obeys social custom? Do you think this is right?

Okay, I say I see this team a from a macro view, from social custom. If I go to India, where they think the cow is sacred, it’s not wrong or right, so I think I should respect this social custome. And antoher side, I think most social custom are good, is based on good ideas.

For example, if a tyrant kills a lot of people in his own country, do you still respect,…


He’s still respected by his own people, you know what I mean?

So in that case, I wouldn’t’ respect him, and I wouldn’t invite him to Taiwan.

But I think it’s dangerous to only go by social custome. Because this will influence our humanity. If the social custom is not righteous…it will be very dangerous if the social custom is not moral. I think there are still many countries who don’t do the right thing…

The USA for example

…who are ruling their people in the wrong way. So it’s dangerous to only conform to social custom.

But your viewpoint is still that of team b. you’re not expecting them to to conform to your own personality choices and actions.
In team b you will still accept their actions. In team b you still face the same situation,

You’re judging them, its still not right.

So I don’t think we cannot judge people only by their proper social behavior, we need to look directly to their personality. I don’t think it’s right, I mean , if you just respect them for proper social behavior…what I mean is, there are still many countries without moral behavior, and the king rules them by bad rules. In that kind of country, I don’t think by kproper social behavior people do the righ thing, they just need to survive, so they need to do bad things in order to survivie.

I think that your question is, I will not accept this kind of person, because his behavior is also not respected by social custome. But I think team b would accept him, because you resepce all choices.

So you’re saying I expect others to follow my choices?

I’m saying team b means that I respect choices. There must be some sort of core value in everybody’s mind.

So you’re team a, that’s social custom.

I mean I cannot expect other people can follow my thought. But almost everybody has similar ideas about what is right and wrong, they have similar ideas about morals and humanity. So it’s not so difficult to judge appropriate behavior. It’s not so difficult to judge wrong and right social custome.

Youre saying there’s an across the board social value. No matter if they’re American or Chinese, still they have the same value there, so you can tell what’s good. It’s not difficult to tell good from bad.

Sure, so that’s why I think core vale is the same as social custom.

For me, core value and social custom has to conform to me. If they don’t conform to my judgement, I’ll drop it. If the social value goes against my values, I wn’t conform. They have to pass my own judgement.

I agree with this. For example, wearing slippers in a wedding social party. Some peole wil find it okay, but I won’t do it.

Killing people, I can’t accept.

If Taiwan were like the US, and invaded Iraq, would you support the troops.

But calling it an invasion, that makes it sound bad.

But call a spade a spade.

But what aobut darfur, there’s so much war and difficulty, and we go in to help, then that’s an intervention.

But you’re going in to someone else’s country with troops, that’s an invasion.

Also a macro view and micro view. You said country it’s a macro view. If you see some guy beating an old lady, would you do something.

If it’s in front of me, I’ll try to save the old lady, but that doesn’t mean I have to kill or hurt that guy.

But you’re trying to intervene, even that guy didn’t hurt you.

Yes, it’s a matter of survival.

So what if it’s a coutry king and his people?

I don’t have the power, then I couldn’t do it, or I would try to do it a different way. To always evoke a war to solve the problem, it’s just the quick and dirty way to solve the problem. There has to be a better way than killing each other.

I’m not in favor of war either. It’s too bloody, and I don’t think its right to solve problems by killing other people. So if I amn in a governt position, I don’t agree to invade iraq. Because it’s not our coutnry’s affairs, and they didn’t do bad things to our people, so why do we send soldiers to their country and intervene in sb’s affairs.

I don’t agree with that argument here. It is related to us sooner or later. Even if the war is only between Iraq and US, still it is our business. But I still don’t agree to go to war.

So, if you think that you should help a small person being attacked by a big person, do you think Taiwan should go to fight against the US in iraq?

What I mean is, if Taiwan is being attacked by China, then the US or the UN should help us.


Just like the old lady.

They’re not doing it for moral reasons! They’re doing it for their own self-interest! They know that if they don’t help us they will be in danger soon.


You know, political economic issue all involve.d

I don’t expect them to, I just think they should

There is no should. They’ll come because they need it.

I do agree with you

Let’s come back to respect. I respect people because I want them to respect me. So I’m kind of extreme on this point. I don’t really see it from a macro view, I see it from an individual view. I value the respect between people. To get that respect, you have to give it. And I want people to see it this way, we all respect each other, as long as we are all acting responsibly. If you are brave enough to say Im gonna do this, and I’ll take responsibility for the actions, then I’ll respect you for that.

I think that respect is a verb.

So I’ll respect you you respect me.

So ths is for countries, too. But anyway, let’s go to individual. What kind of respect shold be based on social customes. The guy bullies the old lady, but he respects you, should you respect him? Hould you just let him bully her?

If there’s the situation, I would jump in.

But you also respect the old lady’s needs.

You’re saying you’re worried he would also do it to you. You’re saying the behavior is not good, so it cant be allowed for anyone. So that’s social behavior, and conforming.

I don’t know why respect is so important to me.

Because you’ve struggled a lot in your life to respect yourself and to get respect from others.

I have a uestion. If oter people, if you respect yourself, and don’t care about if other people respect you or not, can you do it?

Do what?

Can y ou respect yourself without caring if other people respect you? Its difficult to ask others to respect you…

If you respect yourself, you naturally respect others, and so they will r espect you. I’ve seen this, when someone is disrespectful to themselves, they’re willing to disrespect others.

I want to see if respect is really the basis of conforming to social custom, it means we will make other people become like the victim. Like I said before, in the past students are taught to be ‘good’. Teachers or parents have a criteria or standard of a typical model. It means that we have all to follow only one criteria or typical model. We cant express our own opinions, or ask what we want, if our demands are against the typical model. Just like labels. Some students are labeled conforming or unconforming. But the standard or criteria is supposed by our custom, but I don’t think it is fair, or it is right, because we have to respect other’s difference. If we have only one criteria, we can’t express the diference of thoughts or ideas.

Of course I agree your popint. But in my definition, social custome is not so narrow, not just a model.

But there are also several kinds of modesl. In school, how to be a good student, in familes, how to be a good childe. In society,we have to be a good person. But what is the criteria for that? We’re expected to listen to others ideas on this only. Remember your gradschool experience: yo’re told not to be friends with certain people, because they’re bad people. And if someday you did bad things, your parents will say, usually you’re good, so it must be your bad friends amek you bad.

I remember that, but I think the bad students is not because they have bad grade. If we lable them baed its mostly because they fight or steal or do some thing that doesn’t conform to social custom.

But in my person experience, some people were labled bad for raising their hand to ask questions, because they think they’re just trying to make the teacher look bad.

But that seems to be the exception.

Sure it happens …

Wait be careful here, you’re accusing her of generalizing from her experience, but you are also generalizing from your experience.

But let me tell you a story, I had a classmates, who had really bad grades, but she was still the leader of the class, because eshe knows how to get peope to work together. So my teacher put her at the head of the class.

But you can also see in movies, in our society our students are taught to be listeners more than speakers. So I can say its when I was a child its not just mine, but others. Just because someone is an active person, he likes to express his opinion only, he was labled as a problem student.

So who labled them, the teacher?

So maybe he didn’t write ‘a bad student’.

It’s possible, I was ostracized in this way.

So it’s possible that someone is afraid to talk in class, because hes afraid someone will call him stupid. So now, the message is, you have to ask questions, and if you don’t, then maybe
So the message has changed, so I want to know how can what we know what is proper social custom, and what is right or wrong, if the standard changes?

You have to look inside yourself, what do you believe.

My question is, the realson why I don’t choose the team a.

I think we just need to look upon the principle, not upon the detailed changes. If you look at the principle, it’s easier to judge. But I still insist in team b, I think if we cannot only respect people by their proper social behavior, and we respect their mind, their personality, it will last a long.

But I’ll say, that incident I told you, when the teacher told me I was too loud, that’s when I started questioning social values.

Okay, I agree this point. Students have to wear uniforms to school, if the student doesn’t want to, how does this change your view.

Of course, it’s a uniform I’ll respect the uniform, so.

But the uniform is social conformity.

But of course I’ll give her a choice to go to a different school.

But that’s not a real choice!

Okay, I have a son who is so rebellious, and a daughter who doesn’t want to conform. I tell her, if you want to differently, then you have to accept the consequences of your actions. If you want to do this, you’ll get puinished. If you can accept that, its your choice.

So you’re teaching them to pick their battles.

I’m trying o teach them to shape their own value system. They have to take some risks, as a mother I have to advise them, but I let them make the choices.

Closing statements
Team a
30 sec
I think if you choose b, at some level you still have to follow social custom. Basically if we follow social customs, in some degree we are respectin others.

Team b
30 sec.
well, I think proper social behavior or social constant aries. It’s not easy to confirm. But the core values or morality is what people should respect.

1 min
I don’t think, in my opinion, respect cannot be based on social custome, because customs are changeable, but human values are not easily changeable. So I think respecit is accepting others’ personality because our core value is priceless, and humanity ispriceless, and it’s easy to tell good from bad.

Is till think respect it respecting other’s values, so I would choose to wear the uniform out of respect for the school. but it doesn’t mean that school should ignore my personality or choices. Like sue said, I can make some changes in my uniform to express my peronslity.

Socks! At my school we had the craziest socks.

I want to people to respect me and I want to respct people. Even their values are different than mine, I respect them. If the difference is very big, and I think it’ll cause problems in the future, then I will stand up to fight for my values, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect them.

About These Discussions

(Edited to add that this 'about' describes the period between 2006 & 2008 when the classes were held at Core-Corner, which still exists and is a fine English-teaching establishment.)

These discussions are held twice weekly at Core-Corner, an English language center in Taiwan, under the aegis of ‘Cultural Exploration.’* We began in January of 2007. Some participants, like Mary and Clark (aka Superman) have been here from the beginning, others have come and gone, others have come and stayed.  
I type the discussions down verbatim in class, and edit them later for spelling and sometimes continuity. Otherwise, the discussions are as-is. Typically the beginning of the discussion is questions about the article and definition of terms, so I only start typing once the real discussion gets underway. Sometimes the discussion begins with people stating their position on the topic, sometimes it goes straight into things. Sometimes the discussions are not directly about the topic question.
Since some editing of the discussion transcripts is involved, they are never posted on the day of discussion. You may have noticed that the true date of posting does not match the listed date of posting. As I have time, I also add earlier topics and discussions to the website. In the beginning I tried to make the discussion topic fall above the discussions on the webpage, so the discussions were artificially dated to be the same day. Now I just list the discussion topic as the same date as the first time it was discussed, and list the subsequent discussions as being on the date they were actually discussed. Clear? Not? Oh, well.

*Asked to describe this class in 10 words or less, Maggie said: “Everything around us is culture.” Which is to say, all of our social interactions, how we eat, what we wear, how we do business, even what we say to other people, all of this is ‘culture’. So to study culture is to study who we are as human beings. Which is the point of this class: To learn, through discussion, who we are as human beings.

About Taipei

The Taipei group is composed of mostly women ranging in age from late 20s to middle 30s. Some of them are graduate students, some of them are just starting out their careers, some are experienced financial researchers, some are indispensable administrators at medium sized companies. Backgrounds include bio-science, engineering, finance, insurance, textiles, business administration and hospitality.

About Hsinchu

The Hsinchu group is composed mostly of men ranging from their middle 30s to their late 40s. Some of them work in the semiconductor industry, as sales managers or upper management, they work in R&D, or in setting industry standards at a quasi-governmental institution, and some of them work in finance. Backgrounds include several kinds of engineering, business administration, sales and finance.