The age of exploration, discovery, and conquest was a two-way street, for the non-Western culture often reacted quickly and effectively to the arrival of Europeans. The following Japanese tale, a clever variant on the dictim that in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, suggests one form of interaction.
Once upon a time there was a man who did nothing all day long—he just waited and hoped that suddenly he would meet with unexpected good fortune and become rich in an instant without any effort.
And thus he lived for many a year, until one day he heard tell that there was a certain island inhabited by people who had only one eye.
At last! That will be my good fortune,” thought the man to himself. “I’ll travel to that island, I’ll catch one of these one-eyed creatures and bring him back and show him in the marketplace for a penny a look. In a short while I shall be a rich man.”
And the more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea.
Finally he made up his mind. He sold the little that he had, bought a boar and set off. After a long journey he reached the island of the one-eyed creatures and, indeed, hardly had he stepped ashore when he saw that the people there really had only one eye each.
But of course the one-eyed people noticed that here was a man with two eyes, and a few of them got together and said:
At last! So this will be our good fortune! Let’s catch him and show him off to the marketplace for a penny a look. We’ll soon be rich men!”
No sooner said than done. They seized the two-eyed man and carried him off to the marketplace, where they showed him for a penny a look.
And that’s the sort of thing that happens to people who sit and wait for unexpected good fortune.