One of the interesting things about cultures is that they affect the things you notice in everyday life and in stories. For example, last week I watched the movie Soul Surfer with a group of people here in Taipei. The movie tells the story of Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack.
As an American, I looked at the movie as Bethany’s story. I was inspired by her courage and determination to pursue her passion, surfing, in spite of the huge obstacle she faced. I was even more inspired when she realized that success as a surfer was only a small part of what life is about. She came to see loving people as more important than winning competitions and became a much more generous, caring person.
My local friends, though, had a different perspective. Certainly they approved of Bethany’s persistence. But they were equally impressed, if not more so, with her family. They pointed out how supportive Bethany’s parents and brothers were and how they encouraged her in her hard times. And once they said this, I realized that it was true.
Movies, books and spoken stories are a product of culture, but they are also a way of expressing truth. Often, there is more truth buried in the story than any one person will notice. This is why people have book clubs and why people like to watch movies in groups. But when the people gathered come from many cultures, the experience becomes even richer.