I have lived in multiple Asian countries over the past eighteen years, and I still don’t understand the concept of “face”. The idea that things like losing your temper should somehow embarrass you or means you lose the argument doesn’t makes sense. Speaking truthfully, if angry, isn’t the same as going Godwin. Some say that westerners (I know, I need a better word for it) don’t have face, but I disagree. Honesty, trustworthiness and reputation have their own sense of face (or at least, they used to).
Two recent events in the news highlighted this to me again.
In July 2018 during summer vacation (Kaohsiung, Taiwan), an 18 year old university student named Lin went to a park to exercise. He and an 80 year old man (doing Tai Chi) got into an argument over personal space. Lin knocked over the elderly man who suffered a minor head injury and bleeding. Although the elderly man chose not to press charges, the police still arrested Lin under the “Maintenance of Social Order” law (akin to England’s ASBO law).
Because Lin “lost face”, he decided to exact revenge. Lin purchased hydrofluoric acid (HF), telling the store keeper he was using it for an experiment at school. Instead, Lin ambushed his victim, shocked him with a taser-like device (which are illegal in Taiwan) and poured hydrofluoric acid on the man. Anyone with any knowledge of HF knows this was a death sentence. The 80 year old was hit on 35% of his body, and though he was rushed to hospital, he died very quickly. And painfully.
Lin splashed himself during the assault and ended up in hospital for a week where he was arrested. He is currently on trial for the murder. Lin claims he “did not know” that HF could cause the man’s death. Yeah, right. 9_9
One of the most shocking parts of this story is the fact that hydrofluoric acid was not a restricted substance. Anyone could have bought without proof of identification or license. Only now in October 2019 has HF and other subtances been restricted and special permission required to obtain it. Another shocking part of the story is that Lin was studying to be a special care provider, training to take care of other people. Somehow, I suspect he wasn’t qualified.
I don’t believe for one instant that inanimate objects have intent or can be “evil”, but if they were, hydrofluoric acid and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) would probably make the top ten list of non-nuclear materials.
This wasn’t the only such recent incident in Taiwan. In July 2019, two men sitting next to each other on Taipei’s MRT blue line (Mass Rapid Transit, the subway) began a fist fight after arguing over personal space. Both were manspreading, and both expected the other to give up or move. The younger of the two ended up in hospital. I have no word on whether charges were laid.
The irredeemable force met the immoral object.