What does it take to bring about change?

One thing I know for a fact is that Americans complaining about China will not change that country.

The Chinese choose to reflect the views of their leaders and ancient traditions rather than their own personal views. Americans, on the other hand, seek independence and pursue personal goals above the goals of society. As such, China can be described as a collectivist society, while most Americans are individualistic.

Traditional Chinese cultural values harmony, benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, honesty, loyalty, and filial piety. The concept of harmony is the most important Chinese traditional value. This has been unchanged for thousands of years in spite of the influence from outside cultures and numerous invasions.

What does American culture value?

The Declaration of Independence states that “all [people] are created equal,” and this belief is deeply embedded in America’s cultural values. Americans believe that all people are of equal standing. That means the most important thing to understand about U.S. culture would be individualism. Americans are trained from childhood to become separate individuals responsible for their actions and the consequences of those actions. That individualism also helps explains why someone like Donald Trump is doing everything he can to destroy the country he now leads. With Trump, everything is about him.

The BBC reports, “Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change.”

Recently, I had an e-mail conversation with another American that said she’s spent some time in China more than a decade ago. It really bothered her that the Muslim Uyghurs in the Northwest province of Xinjiang did not have the freedom to protest and cause problems. The total population of Uyghurs in China is 11,303,155, and that is less than one percent of China’s population. In addition, the Uyghur’s engagement with China has been violent since the 1960s. The odds are against the Uyghurs.

What my internet friend did not take into account was the fact that the Chinese are not Americans. Her judgment was based on the culture she grew up in.

Maybe that internet friend filled with condemnation for China should take this advice: “When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do.”  This phrase refers to the importance of adapting yourself to the customs of another country instead of imposing your values on them.  In fact, all of her energy should be focused on saving her own country from destruction.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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