One of the richest adventures I’ve had in my adult life was the cultural encounters working as a resident chaplain in an urban setting. I worked for two years for a major hospital system in Houston, Texas. This hospital system had a mission statement of serving its diverse community and offering appropriate pastoral care. What I came to understand from this work experience was the incredible ethnic diversity as well as the religious diversity represented by patients in the hospital. I learned this as I made my rounds through the ER, ICU, Ambulatory Care, and other surgical units.
The night atmosphere is alive with colour and sound. Vibrant costumes adorn humble people as they dance to ward of evil spirits. Bright fires cast a warm glow; the balmy warmth of incense caresses the air. Our spirits soar. This is a traditional Buddhist festival in Nepal. Contrast this with another scenario I experienced: Before we alight the bus in Beijing we are told not to ask questions. We are told not to mention anything political. We giggle and laugh, every one of us thinks it’s a joke. But our guide tells us again firmly, he is 100% serious. We could get arrested and thrown in prison and that is no laughing matter.
We’re all fed up with the reported incidents of bullying that have been dominating the headlines lately. And we have every right to be. I just hope that we’ve reserved a portion of our dismay for the workplace bullies who may lurk in our midst wreaking havoc on folks in the next cubicle, lab or conference room, or yelling, screaming and cussing on the other end of the phone, or from another culture. And well we should because bullying is anathema to who we say we are from the duality of respectful and ethical behavior.
Still not convinced?