Here’s an admission. Your resident Blog Master is one of many modern folk who have taken to so-called internet dating to find love. And it looks like paying off!
Now a date, technically, is any experience in which a man and a woman, determined to see if each other would make a good wife or husband. Traditionally, the man, desiring to become leader of his household, bears responsibility for the cost and logistics of dates.
Online, often from a distance of many kilometres, this simply isn’t possible, so how does one know that a relationship of trust is on the make? In our case, I live in Australia and Ute, the wonderful German-American woman I’m cyber-seeing, in Taiwan, of all places!
Ute and I both work in Asian-language contexts and love using words. Both of us bear a type of suffering requiring patience, empathy and desire to proclaim the inherent goodness of our lives because of and despite our difficulties. Underpinning all this is a shared Faith, to which we are both Converts.
Recently, she and I had the happiness of our work and interests colliding unexpectedly to produce something good for the world at large.
Ute works as a secretary at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. It has activities in many, diverse disciplines – mathematics and physical sciences, life sciences, humanities and social sciences – in which it has made important contributions. Ute’s role is diverse and challenging, and it’s lovely being along for the ride, to see her skills and talents put to great use.
Readers can imagine that Ute’s skills in interpreting Chinese are challenged daily, when new topics arise with peculiar jargon or a culture all their own.
So it was that Ute was called on to edit the Chairperson’s opening speech to the annual Workability International Conference, hosted by Taiwan’s Eden Social Welfare Foundation. Ute, knowing of my inherent interest in people with disabilities, and wanting to promote my writing talents (I humbly submit that I have them!) believed I could help with the editing.
The remarks originally referred to people with “mental and physical disabilities”, and Ute wondered if this was right.
Now, just for the record, although I’m all for people speaking easily about those of us with disabilities, some ways of describing disabilities are better than others. It’s simply correct to say, “people with intellectual disabilities” and I said so.
Ute asked whether I would like to help more with the speech, and of course I took that opportunity for all it was worth, but with some caution. The price of making a mistake, going too far – or not far enough – could be high!
Given carte blanche, I made some tentative changes, and sent them off directly to Director Lo. Okay, all I did was change “persons” to “people”, making the speech a bit less stilted and more natural. A small alteration to add more warmth to what Mrs Lo was to say, not only to help her, but also humanise those her speech was about. “Persons” sounds so much like bureaucrat-speak.
Next thing we know, the Chairperson’s remarks are being reported on the Taipei Times website, in a newspaper almost unknown to me at that time. Director Lo’s , Ute’s and my work is well and truly out there for all to read and take note.
Now, although my own contribution was small, it significance in manifesting what Ute and I feel is the purpose of our being together – to be a source of hope to each other and all about us – is not lost on us. It was not what some would call an omen, but a chance to see how our talents, qualities and humanity might combine to be good for others, no matter what may happen to any other kind of relationship.
Indeed, we have much to work out in joy, in fear and trembling perhaps before Ute and I truly know that our destinies lie in being with each other. Despite many hiccups, all is going well for us at present, and we earnestly desire to find out what the future holds.
I spent some of the afternoon on which the conclusion to this piece was written at the opening of a new liquor store at my local shopping centre. A cross-section of the community was there enjoying good cheer on a chilly winter’s day. So, of course were the proprietor of this store, Keith, and his business partner, who is also his partner in love. Chatting to them I found out it their was involvement in a common interest – the liquor industry – that brought them together too. They seem very happy, with a bright future ahead.
This is but one experience. As Aristotle is supposed to have said, “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day”. But somehow, today, everything seems possible!