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This is called projection – the notion that others have the same motives, desires, theologies, and opinions as you do. And they base their behavior on this.
We all know the jealous woman who believes every woman is after her husband. Or worse yet, the men in the church actually believing that single woman are after them. Or, worse even than that, the pastor thinking all the single women are after all the men regardless of station.
This is a function of an overblown ego and has traditionally made the church a hostile place especially for single women and one of the reasons that pastors often go to lengths to marry single women off. It happened to a friend of mine in her later 20s. The pastor kept encouraging her to marry a young man who turned out to be homosexual. She left the church. And you wonder why people are church hopping. And maybe all this is because the men themselves rally are seeking to be pursued by women? Who knows.
Projection also infects nations. The Chinese are convinced that America is plotting to attack them with an armed force and take their land. If you will check on China, you will find that there really isn’t much there to acquire. China has minerals, but no water and fouled air. It is not a place anyone would want to acquire. But that is the mentality of a nation that is predatory and lurking about the South China Sea for lands to subsume. That is why China already snatched Mongolia and Tibet, and why the nation continues to suffer from the theft of land.
Tibet meanwhile has no desire to be part of China or to be anything but Tibet. Russia was also greedy for land, having assumed that grateful China would become part of the Soviet Union, a problem Chairman Mao recognized, Russia being unable for some unknown reason to develop their own properly and even today is nosing around the Middle East looking for territory. Always ambitious for someone else’s turf!
Working in China I learned that the Chinese thought all Americans were rich and white. I put on the blackboard a breakdown of races here – 55% Anglo (a word they prefer) 15% black, 12% Asian, 16% Hispanic, and so on. The number has no doubt changed today.
When I said I wanted to get a tan (the sun did not shine there for 2 straight months) they were horrified. Chinese girls put a product on their face to make them white. They look like ghosts to me. I used some indoor tanning product and they were shocked. I said I wanted to look like an American – but they didn’t understand. Americans are NOT white.
We assume people have the same beliefs. A woman told me a few years back that her son was gay. I said I was sorry. (Yes I am sorry. Gays die many years before straight people, are more often involved in domestic violence, and “divorce” more often than straight men.) Yes, I am sorry. She got huffy and said she was not sorry. I had assumed she knew something about this but I guessed wrong.
A Chinese underground press which I read daily was very happy about Anderson Cooper “coming out” as being gay. I wrote a comment on their blog that CNN was hardly much viewed by the American public, an established fact if one checks the TV numbers which come out daily.
CNN is very popular with English viewers abroad however. The man was irritated – what difference does that make he wanted to know. I replied that the CNN endorsement in foreign lands looked like something it was not; it may appear that American audiences are interested and involved, but not so. The perception of foreigners is that CNN is popular here; they could not have guessed of its dwindling audience. You can check TVbythenumbers online for a URL.
We make assumptions about culture. In the USA when you want someone to follow you, you wave with your hand at them. TOO LATE I learned that this was an obscene gesture in the Philippines. Sigh.
In Japan yellow is the color of death. For many years Isuzu would not paint a car yellow, but I was able to buy one myself when they realized Americans like yellow; it is the color of friendliness.
The list of projections can go on and on. The moral of the story is you assume nothing. Find out where people are and go from there. Many a marriage has crashed when the couple found out they shared little in common but their bedroom.