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Valuable Manners


     Over the years I've become inured to the idea that the Chinese have a very different definition of "civility" than we Westerners do. I was still taken aback, though, by something I saw the other day.
     I was in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou (the "Valuable Province"). I'd never visited the place before, but I'd heard stories about how ill-mannered and self-centered the people there are, so I wasn't surprised when I saw 30 or so young adults all trying to crowd through the front door of a bus at the same time. "Typical," I said to myself, "not worth getting my camera out of the bag."
     Then I noticed an old lady in the middle of the crowd. She looked to be in her eighties and was carrying a cane. As I watched, she fell back a step or two as though she'd been pushed. She immediately tried to fight her way back to her former position but a tall man in his thirties elbowed his way in front of her.
     Five times the old lady tried to get on the bus, and four times she was pushed back. She succeeded on the fifth try only because all the young people had already gotten on board.
     This was on the same day that the China Daily ran an article praising the leaders of Guizhou for the great strides they've made in, among other things, raising the education level of the populace. (China Daily, May 20, 2013, p. 2.) I guess the Chinese have a different definition of "education" than we do, too.


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