In 1935, Lin Yutang wrote, “Face cannot be translated or defined. It is like honor and is not honor. It cannot be purchased with money, and gives a man or a woman a material pride. It is hollow and is what men fight for and what many women die for.
“It is invisible and yet by definition exits by being shown to the public. It exists in the ether and yet can be heard, and sounds eminently respectable and solid. It is amenable, not to reason but to social convention.
“It protracts lawsuits, breaks up family fortunes, causes murders and suicides, and yet it often makes man out of a renegade who has been insulted by his fellow townsmen, and it is prized above all earthy possession.
“It is more powerful than fate and favor, and more respected than the constitution. It often decides a military victory or defeat, and can demolish a whole government ministry. It is that hollow thing which men in China live by.” (Lin Yutang, My Country and My People, Halcyon House, New York, NY, 1938, page 200)
Chinese like Yue Fei and Guan Yu were honorable men and gained much face because of their beliefs and behavior.
When anyone in China reacts to anything, politically or personally, honor plays a big role. It doesn’t matter if one is a member of the Communist Party, a farmer or a factory worker or one of the wealthiest members of the new capitalist elite.
Most Chinese measure what is important in life by a different standard than the rest of the world.
Discover Honor Chinese Style – Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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