Some of the rules or culture from where I come from do not apply in where I live now. I come from a rural area, a village in the middle of Johor. Even after almost ten years living in the city of JB, I am occasionally shocked by some mindsets of city people.
Maybe I’m being skeptical. Maybe these people was not actually brought up in this city. Maybe it’s not about where one comes from, but it’s my generation. Or, maybe I’m just being more observant as I get older. I don’t know for sure. I’m writing, anyway.
Where I come from, we always smile when meeting people we know in town, especially our neighbors. Where I live now, there are numerous awkward moments when I try to smile at my neighbor but the person avoids eye contact.
Where I come from, when we have guests in the house, we give them the best food we have in the house and we attend them, even though the guests are actually friends we meet regularly. Where I live now, my friends feel weird when I serve them drinks and food when they come by just for some gossips. “It’s not like I am a special guest,” they’d say.
Where I come from, we always listen to people older than us, even when we do not agree with what they’re saying. It is a gesture of respect. We make conversation with the elders when we meet. Where I live now, even the elders felt strange when I try to start conversation.
I’m writing this because I heard a story from a friend who cried when she brought her parents to her house, here in the city, and her housemates ignored them, just doing their thing. She cried because her mother said, “I feel like I’m disturbing your housemates when I’m here”, not sure how to defend her housemates.
Where I come from, all those things mentioned above are common sense. Because we are brought up with those values – respect, care, sensitive. Even now that I do not live under one roof with my parents, I can sometimes still feel their eyes glaring from behind my back when guests are around in the house, reminding me about manners.
The challenge now is in the bringing up of the next generation – instilling these important values in them. This is not simply about manners. This is about loving, caring and being sensitive – some moral tools important in being human.