First of all, as always not everyone in a country will completely act in line with the culture. So please don't read this as "all Romanians" or "all Americans" when comments are made about the culture. That being said, this is something I have learned recently about a difference between
the American and Romanian culture.
I then asked my friend to clarify the verse because in my mind “selfish ambition” and “the spirit of argument” are not the same thing. He explained that people are connected in community. The example he gave was a husband and wife. If a husband does something for himself then his wife will feel unloved. For example if the husband has a hobby that does not include his wife then his wife will feel unloved. Under communism people did not have hobbies or a “personal life”. People were connected in community, and one person couldn’t do something independent of the community without affecting the community. As in every culture this isn’t true for all Romanians, but it is a big part. We witnesses this at the part all the time. It is just expected that every kid can play with all the other kids toys, and if a mom has food for her kid she will offer it to the other kids there too.
Some other examples my friend gave are if his kids where hanging out with other kids, he would not give his kid any food or a piece of candy in front of the others unless he had enough for all of them. If we were riding in a car and someone wanted to chew gum he would need enough to offer everyone in the car some. If someone wanted to eat a banana while traveling, he would only eat his banana if he had enough to offer everyone in the car one. If he were to eat his own banana in front of everyone else without offering them some it would be considered the “spirit of argument”.
This was foreign to me as an American with our notion of a “person life” and the idea that I can do something for myself that may or may not affect someone else. Our American culture values personal space and personal things. Community is much more limited to who we choose to be in our “circle”. But here, our neighbors at the park are in our circle by default.
Please continue to pray for us as we learn the Romanian language and culture. We have a long way to go!