For a long time, legislators' disclosures of scandals rather than their political efforts have been making headlines. If a foreigner who knew nothing about Taiwan came here, he or she may think that the Taiwanese have a special knack for prying into other people's business.
A missionary devoted to Taiwan taught his students that before talking about something, they should apply these three principles: Consider whether what you are going to say is based on the truth, if you will say it with a caring attitude and if what you are going to say is conducive to the situation. If what you are going to say does not comply with these principles, then it is better left unsaid.
A Biblical quote may serve to alert all Taiwanese: "You hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:5)." That is, when people are criticizing or berating others, they tend to forget to consider if they are guilty of similar behavior.
What can we do to change the current situation?
One example may be instructive. The residents of a community had made strenuous efforts to maintain the community's environment. One day, posters appeared on the community walls, covering the wall-paintings collectively produced by the residents. The posters were for a candidate running for elected office. Incensed, one of the community's residents wanted to tear them down but felt that if he did so, new posters would immediately be put up to replace them. He therefore decided to place a huge poster with the text "This guy doesn't respect our work, so let's not vote for him," right next to the campaign posters. It is said that the walls were restored to their original state in no time.
If we express our aversion to this "culture of disclosure" by refusing to watch, read or discuss this type of information, by not electing this type of person, or by refusing to participate in events organized by these people, then we might once again enjoy "clean walls" in our communities.
Andrew Chang is secretary-general of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.
Translated by Daniel Cheng