A beautiful and peaceful country
We spent yesterday on Bali, one of the islands that make up Indonesia. Our guide, Bawa, took us to see a typical Balinese house, a temple (where we had to wear sarongs in order to enter), and workshops where people carved wood sculptures and printed a fabric called batik. Also during lunch we were treated to a performance of gamalan music and traditional dance.
Bawa took pride in explaining to us the distinctive culture of his people, and we left Bali admiring the strong community values that govern life on this island. Balinese own their houses, but the property on which their houses are built belongs to the local community, and every Friday all the women walk through the neighborhood to make sure that the whole village is kept clean and tidy. The men gather on Sundays to keep the temple in good repair. All the generations of a family live in the same compound, and all the adults in the community and not just the parents see to raising the children. Within individual families there is little privacy. The bedroom pictured below (without any doors!) belongs to a teenage girl, and the cupboard holds all the family’s clothes together. People don’t have last names but are given the name of the community in which they live. Even when people die, they are cremated together and the combined ashes are placed in coconuts and floated out to sea. There is almost no crime or poverty in Bali.
By contrast, we in the US place a very strong emphasis on individualism and live much more private lives than the Balinese. We prize personal rights and liberties (consider, for example, the current debate in our country over gun control). Parents might resent it if neighbors criticized or disciplined their children.
What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of the Balinese and American ways of life?