I never like to put on a tie, so most of the pictures that you will see of me will have no tie. I once heard a funny expression from an Asian who said, “the tie is the white man’s burden,” and maybe it affected me!? I can easily imagine, for a very white man living in the Asian tropics, wearing a tie could also be quite a burden.
I remember that when I was in medical training in Hong Kong, which was then under British rule, every doctor had to wear a tie, in spite of sweltering heat and no air conditioning in the hospitals. I would wear a tie, a white shirt, and white short pants. And I had white long stockings to match. This might seem strange to you, especially as I wore a white doctor’ s coat over that, with my stick feet showing. And I would carry a fan to try to cool myself. Your imagination is probably running wild now, and it should. I think this experience “scarred me for life” in regard to ties.
Today I no longer live under British gentlemanly rules, but I am often still expected to put on a tie, in Asia or in the USA. As needed, I reluctantly put on my tie, especially if I am giving a message before a Chinese congregation in church, or attending an official dinner of some kind, or when I have to meet some high Chinese government official. Why do Asians pick up these funny white men’s burdens?
And, in Asia, formal jackets are de rigueur for official functions. This is undoubtedly a (British?) white man’s burden, and totally uncomfortable in hot weather. But I discovered a polite way of solving this problem. I would usually drape a jacket over my forearm, which gives the appearance that I’m dressed appropriately, but had just momentarily taken off my jacket. It looks official enough, and fits the proper image of a tie wearing gentleman, I guess. Try it, it’s a pretty effective ploy.
It turns out that even if you put a white shirt and a tie on a so-called “very primitive” tribal young man, either in the deepest African jungle or the remotest Indonesian island, presto, he looks “civilized.” This is the power of a tie or western clothing. This leads however to a biased concept that people who wear natural coverings, without shirt and tie, are “primitive,” or “not very smart.”
Thus when “modern” explorers arrived on the scene in darkest jungles or far-flung islands, and met people who wore few clothes, there was this impression and conclusion that they were “ignorant savages.” This is quite unreasonable, and history tells us that those so-called savages, even some who actually were “cannibals” by tradition, within a short time, soon look like just anybody else. Especially when they put on a white shirt and a tie.
There really are no, or very few true “savages” among these so-called “primitive” people. The modern day savages are Nazis in World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army of World War II, Pol Pot of Cambodia, and the very “modern” ISIS terrorists. When you see and read what they have done, we are reminded that they were, and are, by all accounts, “civilized,” educated, and modern dressed. And millions have died at the hands of these “true savages,” not the stereotypical ones.
For those who believe in a Creator, one of the most important concepts is that man is created in God’s image, and therefore everyone is precious, from the white shirt and black tie Western educated, to the lightly dressed far away native of some lonely island. And they are all capable of learning in the same way, given health education, schooling, and good teachers. And funny enough, once they put on a tie they look just like us.
There was once a tribe that was “discovered” in the Philippines, that discoverers called a “prehistoric” tribe, living with practically no clothes, in a “Stone Age” culture. National Geographic loved it, made huge romantic reports on the tribe, and showed off their usual beautiful pictures, including the obligatory partially clothed natives. This became a great tourist attraction for many years, earning lots of money for the local place and the official guides who managed this “exotic” location.
Until many years later, it was discovered that it was a total hoax and that they were not indeed “prehistoric.” Anyway prehistoric means before history, so therefore that means that we know practically nothing reliable about anyone who is prehistoric anyway. We are so brain washed to think that people with few or no clothes on must be “primitive,” “backward” and “unevolved,” we are easily deceived, and many people at the time readily bought into this “great discovery.”
Even among far-flung islands and so-called primitive tribes, missionaries are often totally surprised when they find that the vocabulary can be just as complex, or even more complex than the languages we know. For example, in one tribe of the Indonesian islands, there are 19 verbs for one action, depending on when the speaker is speaking about a male, or a female, or an animal, or a plant. There is nothing “primitive” about that at all.
Every race and tribe is very different in social customs, but inherently, and everyone, is just as smart. It is just that some people have not been educated in the modern system, and “look funny.” Some people even then start imagining that the “natives” have “ape-like features,” in order to confirm their own erroneous biases, when these “natives” are just different.
We are so amazed when we read about the pyramids, or the great constructions of the Incas, or the stones of Stonehenge, and think that there is some mistake there, how could they do that? Therefore, it must be some extraterrestrial being that has come upon this earth to do all these “smart things.” This is simply our modern arrogant interpretation of past history. People in ancient times were just as smart, or maybe even smarter than we are today, since they could do all these things without our modern contrivances and gadgets.
There are many practical implications of this kind of arrogance. When Africans were terribly treated as slaves, it was because it was taught that they were “primitive”, and basically subhuman, and therefore it was acceptable to treat them as subhuman. In fact, the Nazis and Imperial Japanese used this kind of philosophy to torture their victims, whom they were trained rigorously to regard as subhuman, or unevolved beings, or dogs or something like that.
I don’t believe there are really “dumb” primitive native tribes. Put on a white shirt and see what difference that makes. We should definitely not despise or under-estimate tribal people, publicly or secretly. They have the same potential for meaningful life as other human beings, and God loves them too. With or without a tie.
我相信没有任何一个原始部落是愚蠢的。我们不应该公开或私下鄙视或小看部落人。他们和所有人一样都有拥有神的爱，能活出有意义的生命 – 不管他们戴不戴领带。