In the Asian experience, there is often a saying, “don’t mafan anyone”: mafan is loosely interpreted as bother, so it is like, don’t bother anyone, but includes the implication that I could be a nuisance bothering someone, or I could incur a debt if I asked something of someone, or I could be easily brushed off, which would be really embarrassing to me. So as a result, Asians usually just feel that, even in America, we should not mafan others.
That is a pity, because there is a counter philosophy often at work in the USA, something like, “that’s an interesting question, that’s a challenge, I could do something about that.” In effect, the mafan is taken as an opportunity to fix a problem of some kind, a “can do attitude” that Americans are justly accused of. In fact, Americans are often suspected of wanting to “fix everything!” even if “it is none of your business.”
这真是遗憾，因为在美国有一个相反的观念。就像是，“这个问题很有趣，那真是一个挑战，关于那件事，我可以做点什么。” 实际上，“麻烦”被认为是解决某种问题的机会， 一种“能做”的态度是美国人被外界所吐槽的。实际上，有人认为美国人想“修复一切！”即使“关你何事。”
Fortunately, if an Asian comes to the USA it is usually quite true that the average American is often very eager to help. Especially in the “heartland” of the Midwest. He feels somehow that he is like given a great opportunity to help, and might even feel it a godly duty, patriotic duty, or at least a duty to his institution, as a pride of purpose kind of thing. Plus, Americans usually have been taught from childhood to help others, so the instinctive response is indeed very good.
庆幸的是，如果亚洲人来到美国的话的确一般美国人都很乐意帮助。尤其是中西部“核心地带”。 他感觉好像给他一个很好地机会去帮助人,甚至觉得这是一个神圣的职责,爱国的义务,或者至少是对他所在机构的责任,有点像带着崇高的目的。另外,美国人通常从小就接受要帮助他人的教育, 所以他们的本能反应的确是很好的.
There is a historic expression from the Good Book, that says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Which is meant with a deeper spiritual value, but also expresses the concept that if we need something, we have to ask, and if asked, we should help respond. The concept is very ingrained in the American psyche and explains why it is perfectly acceptable and welcome to ask, seek, and knock. It is usually not considered mafan.
In fact, quite the opposite happens: if an Asian doesn’t ask, seek or knock, the common unfortunate assumption is that he isn’t interested, doesn’t care, or even worse, maybe there is some laziness involved. The expectation is that if you come from another country, there must be a thousand questions, so if you don’t ask, there is something strange about you.
The upshot is then, that the Asian is placed in an unusual spot that could be quite different from his past experience. Whereas some might have been told since childhood, to “stop asking so many questions,” now he needs to take the initiative to learn, to ask, to explore. With this attitude, he will learn a lot, and the one he asks can respond accordingly, and make the experience very interesting and productive. You might be really surprised that the phrase “how can I help you?” is not just a casual expression, but really often a sincere request for you to ask for help, and not a mafan at all. In fact, I have heard on many occasions that if the one asked cannot answer the question, he will often say, “let me find the answer to that question. Remind me tomorrow and I will give you the answer.
那么要点就是,亚洲人如果到了一个不寻常的地方,可能与过去的经历有很大不同。尽管可能从小就被告知,“不要问太多问题”,现在他需要开始行动去学,去问,去探索。 有这种态度, 他会学到很多,他问的人也可以做出相应的回应, 让这次经历非常有趣又富有成效。你也许真的很奇怪这个习语 “我能怎么帮助你呢?”不仅仅是一个随便的表达,更是一个真诚的要求希望你去寻求帮助,一点也不麻烦。实际上我在很多情况下经常听到，如果一个被问的人不能回答提出的问题的话,他通常会说”让我找找那个问题的答案,明天记得提醒我给你回复。”
You have heard the ancient Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But there are deeper more positive action ones, “love others as you love yourself” and “love your neighbor,” which are the deep biblical concepts quite prevalent in the USA, and especially in “conservative” places, like Cincinnati! And most people subconsciously try to follow these principles, even if it could be challenging to do. And the “fix it” philosophy is a concept arising from these basic thoughts.
你已经听过古时候的黄金法则,“己所不欲勿施于人。”但还有更深层更积极的“爱人如己”和“爱你的邻居”, 这些是在美国流传很广的圣经概念, 尤其是在“保守的”地方,像辛辛那提!大多数人下意识的要遵守这些原则, 即使可能很有挑战。 “解决问题”的思想就是由这些基本想法而来。
One of the most dramatic advances at our famous Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is the zero accident philosophy, where the hospital literally targets ZERO as the goal for accidents happening at the hospital. We commonly might say “accidents happen” and assume they are often not preventable. In Asian jargon, it could be like, that is really very mafan. The hospital decided to turn this concept on its head. When I first heard this zero accident plan presented at medical grand rounds, where the faculty and staff attend every week to hear about recent developments in pediatrics, I remember standing up and saying something like, “Couldn’t we shoot for a more realistic goal?” It seemed like really a near impossible goal.
在我们著名的辛辛那提儿童医院,一个最伟大的进步之一就是零事故的理念。医院基本上把发生在医院的事故控制在“零”。 我们通常可能会说“事故会发生”并假设它们通常也不能避免。 在亚洲人的术语中,可能会是,那真是很麻烦. 医院决定彻头彻尾的改变这种观念。 当我第一次在医疗研讨会(员工每周的会议来了解儿科学的最新发展)上听到这个零事故计划的时候,我记得站起来好像这样说,“我们就不能制定一个更切实际的目标吗?”它(零事故)看起来就像是一个几乎不可能完成的目标。
But indeed the target was reached and often, so it is now the “new normal.” It is an amazing goal and literally impossible to imagine, but with a “let’s fix it” attitude, and lots of dedicated energy and focus, it has been possible to motivate lots and lots of people to “fix it.” And because it was demonstrably possible, many other hospitals joined in, even to share all their data, so everyone could learn together from each other’s mistakes, so there is no need to repeat these mistakes. No mafan at all, let’s just fix it.
但实际上这个目标这些年经常可以达到,所以它现在是“新且正常的目标。” 它是一个很棒的目标几乎难以想象,但因为有“我们解决问题”的态度,以及大量的精力付出及集中, 动员更多更多的人来“解决问题”已经成为可能。并且因为已经展示可能,很多其他的医院也加入,甚至透明化的分享他们所有的数据,所以每个人都可能从彼此的错误中学习, 因为没有必要去重复这些错误. 一点也不麻烦, 让我们解决问题吧。
“Not mafan at all,” is a great operative concept in life, and I personally think much better than “don’t mafan others.”