Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sense of Safety here in Taiwan

SENSE OF SAFETY—a big fat Billfold of an Example

By Kevin Stoda

As many readers know, I live in Taiwan on the relatively secluded island of Beigan—part of the Matsu Island Chain off the coast of China (9 km. away). Living here, I feel really safe, and when my wife and baby were here last autumn, they felt very safe too. By a sense of safety, I am talking about the fact that one feels that there is little or no chance of crime in the neighborhoods.[1]

I had a similar sense of safety when I lived in rural Japan (Itoigawa, Niigata) in the early 1990s. Similarly, when living in pre-9-11 UAE (in the city of Sharjah), I had felt a similar sense that chance of crime and violence was quite low. Growing up in small towns in Kansas in the 1970s, I felt relatively safe, too.

Feeling a sense of safety means that one does things like not fearing to take a walk around town at 2am if one is not able to get sleep. Also, one leaves doors unlocked. One is also permitted to be very careless leaving supplies and equipment of all types outside in the open. In the early 1980s, I recall staying in a house in North Newton, Kansas which actually had no key—the key had gotten lost years earlier and neither the renters nor owner had ever replaced it.

A great example occurred here in Ban Li Town two weeks ago when a wallet was left on a table top in the front office at the school. The owner, it seemed, had gone away for a long weekend. It lay at the entrance of our school office for 5 days before the owner came back and claimed it. Meanwhile, dozens of students and more than two dozen adults had passed by—most without giving the large black wallet a second look.

It was obvious that it was not an empty wallet.

NOTES

[1] Sense of Safety in terms of medical help is a different story—where by in the case of a major medical emergency, one would either have to take a boat to the neighboring larger island of Nangan or fly in a government helicopter 45 minutes to the main island of Taiwan. However, when news stories on Taiwan TV usually consist of small street accidents –instead of violent in massive doses–you can imagine that Beigan is not entirely an exception for the country.

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