Life in Taiwan 11

I’ve often looked for a solution to a problem which has perplexed me for much of my time here in Taiwan. I have noticed an overall lack of interest in community standards that would govern how we interact and treat one another Standards which in creating a more harmonious environment might raise the quality of life. In Canada a number of these standards, some of which are law, some of which are social, govern things such as aesthetics, cleanliness, basic services, and noise. Being a guest here I can grow somewhat accustomed to the general ugliness of the urban environment, the dirt that comes with so many Asian cities, and even the suprising lack of basic services like good water (pressure). But the one thing that I have a hard time with is noise.
I tend to enjoy living in cities. I like the sounds of life one hears in the city. But in Taiwan these sounds are taken to new heights not be the city itself but by your neighbours.
Since moving to Hsinchu I’ve put up with the constant noise of illegal fireworks going off outside my bedroom window by some guy training pigeons, bad karaoke at 2am Monday morning, trucks going down the street laying on their horns for no known reason, 8 am Sunday picture hanging fests. (drilling into concrete), loud prayer meetings, crashing of doors at all hours, and the list could go on and on. The latest activity is the remodeling of a building 6 houses down from me. This has to be without a doubt the longest house remodelling project in history. Because they are taking down the concrete walls day after day has been filled with the constant defining drone of small jackhammer against concrete wall. During working hours this wouldn’t be much of a problem, except that these people like to start work at 7am on Saturday and Sunday. And no one says anything! Either people here love living in an environment that is a constant source of irritation and stress or their is something else at work. In my experience this is beyond rude and in most other countries would result in the police showing up at your door.
Usually the answer I get on this problem from locals is simply, “This is Taiwan, it’s different” or “It’s like that everywhere”. There is a discussion on a local community web site which seems to have a plausable answer.
“I think that about 90% of the problems in Taibei stem from one thing: apathy. People don’t care about police corruption, or at least feel powerless to change it. The same goes for political corruption. The same goes for the dehumanizing exam system. And for illegal buildings. And Mercedes parked in front of fire hydrants. And all the myriad forms of sidewalk violations. And many, many, many other problems. ”
“In the debate over universal love vs. family-centered love, Confucianism won out. Mozi said that people should love all people equally; Mencius argued that it’s natural for people to love their parents more than strangers. The amount you should care about someone is inversely proportional to the distance of their relationship to you. You should love your parents more than life itself, but total strangers don’t even come onto the radar screen.”
“… that because of the “Five Relationships”, people driving literally cannot see other drivers or pedestrians when they’re driving, because those people do not fall into that person’s “Five Relationships” (i.e. they’re not his ruler, wife/husband, child, teacher, or friend), so to that person they don’t exist. In that driver’s eyes, he is really the only mofo driving down that street. Same goes for the guy who cuts in front of you in line at the store. Everyone else simply doesn’t exist in their world, they’re invisible. When I’ve said this before, it’s obviously tongue-in-cheek, but surprisingly, most of my Taiwanese friends have said that, basically, that’s the way it is. Unless people outside of those aforementioned relationships directly comes into contact with you, they’re not even there.”
Follow the discussion here: Confucianism – the source of local apathy