Etiquette and its Antecedents

It’s a fair expectation that people should be appropriately quiet and respectful of other people in a place like the library. After all, many of us were taught at an early age the library is a place of silence and study. Images of the thin-lipped, horn-rimmed spectacled librarian come to mind shushing and glaring at any double-decibal aspiring elementary kid. It’s a permanent imprint of how to behave in a library really and not a bad imprint at all. It is proper etiquette.

Alexandra Wallace, a former UCLA undergrad student, made a YouTube video that began by innocently critiquing Asian obsessive parenting and then spun wildly out of control to discuss the improper library etiquette of Asians. I don’t think she had any idea what kind of repercussions this little video would have. No idea.

I found it fascinating to watch because of its impromptu, clearly unpremeditated nature. Here’s a clip if you haven’t seen it already:

It’s caused quite a stir.

She has been blitzed, absolutely flooded with video responses and nasty comments, to the point that she has decided to withdraw from UCLA. The chancellor of UCLA even issued a video response stating how appalled he was.

James Choung, the national director of Asian American Ministries with InterVarsity eloquently articulated the issue for various parties and appealed to our higher sensibilities in this video:

My two cents: My fear is that much damage has been done, and it will be difficult,if not impossible, to repair. And this is why reconciliation is such painful work. It takes years and decades to build up relationships and seconds to bring them crashing down. The irony here is that Alexandra’s points about library etiquette are valid, but her own video etiquette foiled her. And then Asians, as we have been raised, mercilessly trained to do, heaped shame upon her with scores of video responses, parodies, and even threats. How will a Christian response such as James’ be heard amidst all this noise? How will reconciliation be made amidst all the rubble?

The beauty of the initial video by Wallace was that it was so brazenly honest, so real, and actually innocent.

But as much as the interwebs enable us to be so honest in the comfort and solitude of our own dorm rooms, there is an audience of potentially millions who will take you to task on your honesty.

My fear is that honesty will hide its face, even an honest hatred can be changed by love, but when an honest resentment refuses to surface, what happens then?

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About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come. View all posts by David Park

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