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世界没有陌生人,只有不问远近的缘分

对陌生人的责任

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名家名译 | 王维东 译 对陌生人的责任

A World Without Strangers

Xue Yong

在美国住了快十年,万圣节一直没有认真过过。众所周知,万圣节又叫鬼节。过节时大家扮成各种怪样子,装神弄鬼,吓唬人玩。其中最重要的一个节目,就是孩子们的Trick or Treat:天黑后孩子上门来要糖,你不给,人家就可以捉弄你一番。我对此一向不适应。想想看,大晚上的,陌生人来敲门,不断地下去开,又烦人又没有安全感。前几年住在纽黑文,那里治安不好,过万圣节就更无乐趣。

 Never had I fully enjoyed Halloween before, despite having lived nearly ten years in the U.S.. As everybody knows, Halloween is also called the Ghost Festival, during which time people will put on weird costumes or paint their faces to look like monsters, frightening each other for un. Trick-or-treat, a favorite game for children, is one of the festival’s most important events. Imagine kids coming up to your house after nightfall, pestering you for candies and threatening to play a prank on you if you refuse to give any! I, for one, could hardly get used to such things. With strangers knocking on the door in the evening and you dashing back and forth to answer it, you might lose grip on your own security as well as life’s normal peace and quiet. In New Haven, where my family and I lived a couple of years ago, Halloween was even more lackluster because the city and a high crime rate.

今年搬到波士顿,女儿也长到5岁,渐渐懂事了。万圣节前一周,她就惦记着买服装,晚上去Trick or Treat要糖。去年的万圣节,这一节目是由妻子带着她和一群幼儿园的小朋友及其家长集体行动。如今新到一个地方,路都不认得,也找不到伴,为安全起见,只好由我带孩子出门。

This year we have moved here to Boston. My daughter, aged five, is now starting to understand things. A full week before All Hallows’ Eve, she was already obsessed with what costume to wear for the coming festival. Last Halloween, it was my wife who had escorted the girl, along with some of her kindergarten pals and their parents as a group. This time, however, since we were newcomers in this city, not yet knowing our way around and unable to find any company, I took her out myself for safety’s sake. 

夜色漆黑一团,到处是阴森森的,我们完全被一个陌生的、似乎是充满危险的世界所包围。我拉着女儿的小手,走在漆黑的路上,深一脚浅一脚,四处不见人,心里不断犯嘀咕:这么晚敲陌生人的门要东西,是否太打扰了呢?是不是自讨苦吃?

Outside, it was pitch-black with an ominous gloom filling the air. We were surrounded by what felt like an eerily precarious world. I took my daughter by her little hand as we trekked down the bumpy, dark road together. There was not a living soul in sight. “Is it OK to be at a stranger’s door asking for stuff at this late hour?” I wondered to myself. “Aren’t we being too troublesome?’ 

女儿倒是比我有信心。她穿着粉色衣裙,背上有一对翅膀,一副小天使的样子,自告奋勇地按第一家的门铃。那扇门一打开,屋里灿烂的灯火顿时撕开夜幕,仿佛是天堂对她打开了门。夫妇两位主人见了她就心花怒放:“哎呀,我的小天使、小宝贝,你真漂亮、真可爱!”他们一边招呼我们进屋,一边要把一小篮子巧克力倒在女儿手中的篮子里。我急忙拦住,说她实在要不了这么多。主人兴致未尽,不停地问孩子几岁了、上学没有、喜欢什么、住在哪里。这一下我心里不仅放松许多,而且开始分享女儿的喜悦。

Not my confident daughter. Dressed up in pink and donning fairy wings, she looked like a perfect little angel. She volunteered to press the buzzer to the first house we reached. The door opened immediately, and we saw inside the splendid lights tearing apart the massive curtains of darkness, as if Paradise itself had opened its door for her. The host and hostess were delighted obviously delighted to see her. “Oh, darling, you’re so beautiful, so cute!’ they let us in, and tried to empty a small basketful of chocolate candies into her hamper. I hastened to stop them, saying that these were more than enough for her. This could not dampen their zest the least bit; they engaged the little one with questions like “How old are you?” “Have you started school yet?” “What do you love most in life?” “Where do you live, honey?” Their genuine hospitality made me relaxed, allowing me to share my daughter’s boy. 

再往前走,女儿变得越来越不腼腆,见一栋房子就自己冲上去按门铃。那家只有女主人在。她见了孩子,同样是宝贝、天使地夸个没完。还说“我自己的女儿已经上大学了。她像你这么大时,就像你这么漂亮。”我随口问一句:“她去哪里上大学?”

As we continued on our way, my daughter’s shyness completely disappeared. She rushed to the door of the next house and pressed down the buzzer. Only the hostess was at home. On seeing the angelic creature before her, she was no less generous in her praise. “My daughter is away in college now. when she was your age, she was just as beautiful as you are,” she added. “Well, which university does your daughter attend?” I asked casually. 

“哈佛”。我眼睛一亮,马上问:“她中学在哪里上的?”心里想的是自己的女儿以后去哪里读书。女主人看出我的心思,又知道我们初来乍到,马上找笔给我留电话,说她在这一带的学校做社会工作,关于当地一带学校的问题一定来问她。还说等她女儿回来,要请我们来家里吃饭,好好聊聊。临走又翻自己的书架,找出三本5岁孩子的儿童读物要我们带走。

“Harvard,” she answered. This instantly intrigued me. “Then which high school?” My thoughts were already wandering off to where I should send mine for a high-school education. The hostess saw what was going on in my mind. After learning that we were new in this city, she lost no time finding a pen to leave her phone number with me. She told me that she was a social worker in this community. “When later you are not sure about which school to choose for your daughter in this area, come to me.” She insisted. “When my daughter comes back next time, I’ll invite you over for dinner so we can have a good chat.” Before we left, she rummaged through her bookcase and picked out three books for five-years-olds for us to take home. 

女儿的情绪自然越来越高涨。她当然觉得自己是全世界最得宠的人。很快,手中篮子里的糖太多、太重,已经拿不动了,只好提前回家。我们从小很注意她的饮食,尽可能不让她吃糖,她因此对糖并无太大兴趣。回到家洗漱完毕,一倒头就睡了。不过睡前说了一句:“今天我有这么多的快乐!”

This of course boosted my daughter’s spirits, making her feel on top of the world. The basket in her hand soon got too heavy with all kinds of the candies she had been showered with, so we had to rush back home earlier than planned. My wife and I had paid much attention to her dietary habits from early childhood, making sure that she did not take in too much sugar. Hence she does not care much for it. On arriving back home, she did her brushing and washing, and then went off to sleep. Before that she said, “Daddy, I had so much fun today!” 

看着她那张熟睡的小脸,我突然对自己住的社区和邻居们产生了由衷的热爱。同时,回想一下自己小时候成长的经历,也一下子领悟到万圣节的意义。我的女儿和我是在完全不同的社会中长大。我们都体会到人间的友爱。但是,她从小就感受到这种友爱存在于陌生人之间。她知道,在漆黑的、看起来很危险可怕的夜里,她可以从陌生人那里得到无限的甜蜜。人家怎么对待她,很大程度上决定了她长大后如何对待别人。而我们这一代人,则主要是从亲友熟人中感受到这样的温暖,很难懂得陌生人之间的纽带和感情。我至今还记得小时候老师讲地上捡了糖不要吃,因为阶级敌人会下毒药。

 While I fixed my gaze on her petite face in her sleep, a real love surged up in my heart for the street we live on and our friendly neighbors. I chewed on my own past experience of growing up, and the meaning of celebrating Halloween – whereby everyone stops being mortal and becomes a saint – finally sank in. My daughter and I were born and raised in totally different social environments. True, both of us have received love from fellow humans; yet she knows such compassion ca exist between strangers. She knows that, on a dark, seemingly dangerous night, she can get boundless sweetness from strangers. The way she is done unto now determines to a large extent how she will behave towards others later in her life. People of my generation, on the other hand, draw such warmth mainly from their own family, friends and relatives; to their mind, an emotional tie can hardly be forged between strangers. I still remember one of my grade-school teachers warning us not to eat the candy we saw on the ground lest a hostile element, better known in those years as a “class enemy,” might have poisoned it. 

令我最感动的是这次打扰的最后一家人。主人是个盲人,就自己在家,生活全靠一只导盲犬。我开始还觉得给人家找了太多麻烦,女儿首次看到个盲人,也有些害怕。可是,人家充满热情地在桌子上给孩子摸糖,嘴里不停地说,“你的声音像个天使。”

What impressed me most was the last family we intruded upon during our round of trick-or-treating. It consisted of only two members: a sightless lady aided by her loyal guide dog for day-to-day survival. At first I felt sorry to have bothered them, and my daughter, confronted for the first time with a blind person, looked a bit afraid. But much to our surprise, the hostess just an enthusiastically scooped candied from her table, all the while muttering, “you’ve got the voice of an angel, dear.” 

我赶紧说:“我们每天上学都经过你的房子。”她听了越发高兴。一个劲儿地说:“看来我们早就是朋友了。”我看着她准备得整整齐齐的一桌子糖,实在想不出这么一个生活不便的盲人,为招待素不相识的孩子要花多少时间,而在漆黑的夜中对陌生人敞开大门,又是多么大的信任!看来,一个生活颇为不幸的人,也本能地懂得自己对陌生人的责任。

 “We pass your hose every day on our way to the girl’s kindergarten,” I hastened to respond. This pleased her even more. “So we’re old friends already,” she repeatedly exclaimed. I looked at the candies neatly laid out on the table, wondering how much time a visually impaired person like her must have spent preparing for the arrival of unknown little guests, and what solid faith must have lain beneath this simple act of opening her door to sheer strangers amid the darkness of night! It dawned on me, then, that even a suffering person can instinctively see where his or her responsibility lies in association with strangers. 

许多美国人曾评价东亚社会中的人不懂对陌生者的责任。我在国内是见过见死不救的情景。我自己也曾经是那些见死不救的人中的一员。在日本,我也见过一个人出了交通事故,围观者人山人海,但在那里救助的,竟是两个不懂日文的外国游客。我们读经,孟子中也讲见人落井会本能地伸手救助。但我们做起事来就不一样。我们是个亲情的社会,却不是陌生人的社会。我们缺乏陌生人之间的信任和友爱。不能不说,我们不是像我女儿这样长大的。我们过去的生活,没有培养我们这方面的本能。

There is, as pointed out by quite a number of American critics, a general lack of commitment towards strangers in East Asian societies. When I was still in China, I used to witness selfish unwillingness to help where life was imminently endangered, and I myself was one of the many who hld back. During my last visit in Japan, I once happened to be at the scene of a traffic accident. Among the large gathering of people there, the only ones who did help were, alas, two foreign tourists who couldn’t even speak Japanese. Didn’t Mencius teach us, in one of China’s earliest classics we still read today, that one should never leave unattended a fellow human in need? Sadly, we tend to forget these words in real-life situations. Ours is a close kinship-based society rather than one that features a vast, wholesome network of strangers, among whom there ought to be trust and affinity nonetheless. It must be admitted that we grew up in a very different way than my daughter. Our life experiences did not foster such an innate awareness in us. 

“爱你的邻人。”这样的训导,几乎在各个文化中都有。但是,这样的精神在不同社会中的存在形态却有天壤之别。我们面临的挑战不是如何记住这样的话,而是如何使之成为我们的生存状态。

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor.” Such precepts cut across almost every culture, but they are interpreted in wildly different ways in different societies. The challenge here is not whether to remember these words, but rather how to put them into practice in our daily life.​​​​

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