First, in Buddhist countries it is currently the year 2552. Buddists’ base their calendar on the day Buddha was born and therefore in this part of the world it is not 2009 AD JC style; it is 2552 AB venerable Gotama style. I feel like if we in the West would have known this simple truth in December 1999 we could have prevented a lot of the chaos and looming notions of the end of the world during the millennium. I know some of you might be thinking, "But Gwen the fear was tied to the computer systems and their inability to make the change over" and in response I would say, "Please! It didn’t happen here and I am either writing you from the future or we need to remember there is simply no such thing as an objective truth. Even time is only a notion."
Second, denial can be a collective state of mind, not just a defense. In the simplest of terms denial is the rejection or denunciation of an event or state of mind. Most commonly people can be heard rejecting that they behaved in a certain way when in fact they did do the alleged action. For example someone might say, "That’s a lie I didn’t steal her wallet!" when, in reality he or she did, in fact, take it. In Thailand and Burma denial isn’t just an optional refuttal to a claim – it is a literal state of mind. It’s as if you can close your eyes and believe strong and long enough and what ever you are thinking about actually becomes a truth. In some instances there is not even a word available to describe the denied event. For example, during our recent training we covered the topic of rape. According to our participants there was no word for rape in Shan. To them, the term rape means the same thing as sex. Even though they could eventually admit it did happen and was not the same thing as sex, some of them still continued to believe that "it doesn’t really happen." If we don’t talk about it, "it" should therefore not be a word, there was no need.
Third, I am really really bad at working with an interpreter. I talk way to fast and I have very little patience for not being understood. This really sucks for the interpreter because they not only have to try and understand me talking very fast they have to translate words that don’t even exist in their native language (let me take moment and give a little shout out to anyone on this planet who has ever tried to play the role of interpreter for me – I am deeply sorry for any unfair pressure I have placed on you; you did a great job).
Seriously though, I seem completely unable to slow down and yet I can still allow myself to feel frustrated when my point does not get made. Talk about ego-centricism – look at me calling the kettle black. And, although I keep saying I need to work on this if I am going to continue working internationally, I have somehow managed to not slow down in the least and only get more frustrated when I am not understood. All I have done is become more animated in the presentation of my thoughts with the hopes that by acting everything out, I will be understood. For that reason alone, I kind of suck and really should think about only working in Anglophone environments.