Results 1 to 5 of 5
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation

    • Join Date: Oct 2007
    • Posts: 732
    #1

    live on the edge of difference

    Hello everyone,

    The most distinctive mark of a cultured mind is the ability to take anotherís point of view; to put oneís self in anotherís place, and see life and its problems from a point of view different from oneís own. To be willing to test a new idea; to be able to live on the edge of difference in all matters intellectually; to examine without heat the burning question of the day; to have imaginative sympathy, openness and flexibility of mind, steadiness and poise of feeling, cool calmness of judgment, is to have culture.
    Arthur H.R. Fairchild

    What does "live on the edge of difference" mean?

    Thank you.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Aug 2011
    • Posts: 967
    #2

    Re: live on the edge of difference

    Think of it like being near a line (an edge is not necessarily a dangerous place). Your personal preference may be for one side, but if you are 'near' enough, you can 'see the other side'. This is why we use the terms "Right" and "Left" to talk about Conservatives and Liberals- people who have different points of view.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Sep 2016
    • Posts: 357
    #3

    Re: live on the edge of difference

    When I first read your title, I was expecting this to be another meaningless invention of some advertising executive.

    However, the context has guided me to the intended meaning. It is quite poetic, really; heavily figurative.

    The entire piece is repeating a consistent theme, but rephrasing it over and over to more fully "paint the picture" in your mind. The last sentence in particular says many different things, yet in truth is pointing you to the same concept; the same philosophy of open mindedness - intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, experientially, empathically. In other words, the author wishes you to understand he means "open minded" in its fullest, broadest sense.

    To answer your specific question then, permit me to indulge myself and share a relevant piece of my experience.

    I'm an American, raised in Australia (34 years), and now a 5-year resident in China. I came as an ESL teacher, but for the past year I've been working in the Administration of my university. One of my key roles is as liaison between the Chinese staff and the foreign teachers. This is much more than interpreter (I can't really speak Chinese anyway). It is mostly about the basic fact that Chinese and Western modes of thinking, perceptions, points of view, etc., are fundamentally different to each other in several very profound ways.

    This is what is going on when a foreign teacher bemoans, "In my country, we do it this other way. Why do you guys do it that way? It is crazy and chaotic!" My job is to help bridge the gap for the foreign teacher to gain at least a little understanding of the fundamental problem; our hosts are not trying to be difficult, or rude, or uncaring. They just approach certain things in profoundly different ways due to cultural, societal, environmental, and even historical differences between our countries.

    And I do the reverse too; I assist my Chinese colleagues in gaining a modicum of understanding about the crazy things foreign teachers get up to and say at times. Explain why they get so upset about things Chinese take in stride.

    To be successful in this role, I must hold to the very philosophy Arthur H.R. Fairchild is talking about in your posting. Chinese ethics, priorities, attitudes and so on seem baffling to a foreigner, but they do have solid reasons for their nature. They are not right nor wrong, good nor bad, better or worse than our own. They are simply different. And to be balanced in my efforts to integrate these disparate things both internally, and for people around me, I have to be honestly accepting of this philosophy.

    I live my life as a Westerner, yet I am comfortably accepting of the Eastern way of life that surrounds me; interfacing with it daily through the people I work with, the procedures I must follow, standards and values I must respect and seek to understand.

    I am living on the edge of difference.

    At least, this is my interpretation. That is important to remember. Mr. Fairchild is being rather poetic, as I said, so you can expect some differences in interpretation depending on the experiences of the person doing the interpretation.

    Think of "edge" as the point of interface between two different things. The "difference", in Fairchild's context, is broadly cultural, but could also apply at a much finer level, like the difference between you and someone you work with, someone from the same area as you, but with some differences of attitudes or belief.
    Last edited by ChinaDan; 09-Sep-2016 at 04:39. Reason: Clarification, additional thoughts

  1. Matthew Wai's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Nov 2013
    • Posts: 7,827
    #4

    Re: live on the edge of difference

    'The edge of difference' means 'the dividing line between different points of view'.
    Is that correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChinaDan View Post
    Chinese ethics, priorities, attitudes and so on seem baffling to a foreigner, but they do have solid reasons for their nature.
    You might find us Chinese people conservative.
    I am not a teacher.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Sep 2016
    • Posts: 357
    #5

    Re: live on the edge of difference

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    'The edge of difference' means 'the dividing line between different points of view'.
    Is that correct?


    You might find us Chinese people conservative.
    I find Chinese people to be as varied in their attitudes and outlooks as every other people I've had the opportunity to spend time with.

    Though people tend to put all differences down to culture, we forget that a person's behavior can be universal (we love our children), cultural (most Asian people take off their shoes before entering, or just inside their home), and of course personal (preferences for sport, TV, food, cars).

    People I know here range from conservative to extravagant (although to be fair, the extroverts are generally the younger students).

    I might agree they are rather circumspect, but once I get to know them well, I find under that calm, harmonious exterior are the same passions, frustrations, and desires as everyone else on the planet.

Similar Threads

  1. [General] rip apart/edgy/on edge/set one's teeth on edge/get hold of/
    By vil in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 22-Feb-2010, 05:02
  2. [Grammar] difference between 'where are you living' and 'where do you live'
    By Heidi in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01-Dec-2009, 10:09
  3. up-to-date/cutting edge/edge cutting
    By angliholic in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-Dec-2007, 03:25
  4. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 18-Oct-2007, 00:40
  5. cutting-edge vs leading-edge
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-Jun-2003, 21:05

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •