A different Take on Trust


A different Take on Trust

You may have noticed that many people here promise something but easily break their promise. This could be a friend visiting, turning up to work, completing an order, turning up on time, or simply turning up. In some cultures, like Japan for example, not keeping your word can have automatic dire consequences: you could lose a friend, a reputation, a job, and even a potential career.

Sure, in other cultures we may not keep our promises on occasion, but, unlike Bali, it’s not an unwritten rule. Here it’s as if not keeping a promise – being unreliable or worse still not trustworthy – is something that is a lot more relaxed, in fact considered the norm.
While people from other cultures may get angry and potentially cut off ties with or fire someone on the spot for being unreliable, somewhat philosophically Balinese tend to come up with an explanation to justify someone’s absence. A no-show at work could be due to ‘the rain’, ‘a flat tyre’, ‘sickness’, ‘a ceremony’ or ‘period pains’. Not turning up to a less formal arrangement could be due to ‘a banjar meeting’, ‘a ceremony’ or ‘exam season’. The reasons are potentially endless of course, with the banjar and ceremonies being more unique to Bali, and in the big cultural context these are the ones which are harder to argue with.

Even though people in other cultures are sometimes unreliable, there is a key difference: communication. While mobile devices and social media are great for selfies and updating status, surprise-surprise they also can be used for communication. While this revelation sinks in, we can all have fun making up a plethora of excuses for no-shows.

After living here for so long, I find myself catching the unreliability bug too – making excuses in my own head for a broken promise. For me, it’s the regret that’s hard to shake off. Perhaps feelings of regret are more in-ground in Western cultures.

It’s become clear to me that trust holds a different meaning – and in a different context – for Balinese. I’ll try to explain how this relates to the family and the community in the next issue of Kulture Kid.

Copyright  Kulture Kid 2015
You can read all past articles of Kulture Kid at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz