Seeking Harmony versus the Search for Happiness

November 15, 2017

The Search for Happiness in bold white print was splashed across the cover of my November 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine.  In the United States, it has been my perception that the search for happiness sends many people to places like Disneyland or out to eat something that is horrible for their long term health. Maybe buying that type of happiness explains why more than 70-percent of Americans are fat or obese. In other words, when feeling depressed, spend money and while out shopping, walk around texting your friends nonstop until you run into a tree or bounce off other pedestrians because you weren’t paying attention to what was going on around you.

I think this type of thinking is one reason why the U.S. child prodigy Grace VanderWaal wrote and sang “So Much More Than This”.

Like Grace VanderWaal says in her song, “Close your phone and breathe in the air. You’ll soon realize that there’s something that is so much more than this …”

Money will buy fleeting happiness but unless you have an endless supply of money to keep buying that happiness, it will not last long. That’s why I think buying happiness is the same as being addicted to cocaine and heroin. The withdrawal symptoms when the money dries up are agonizing.

What does harmony mean to many in China and can harmony lead to a more stable form of happiness?

 

In China, harmony plays an important role in everyday life. Cultural etiquette among Chinese revolves around harmony as Confucius taught. Confucianism still plays an important role in Chinese society. It is a system of ethics and conduct, the obligations of people toward each other based on their relationships.

Even the way the government in China does business is governed by the same principals. As much as most Americans and Europeans seem incapable of understanding China, the Chinese often see foreigners as barbaric when they do not behave properly according to Chinese standards.

Understanding cultural differences is a two-way street.

For instance, several years ago, after dinner with guests one night, I got up to wash dishes at the sink while Anchee and our daughter were still eating. Anchee later explained that when we have Chinese guests it is impolite to do that since it signals to the guests that it is time to leave. Her advice, “Soak the dishes and leave them until the guests go.”

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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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The Law versus what is Morality

November 14, 2017

The Chinese legal system may have been shattered during Mao’s Cultural Revolution but that didn’t last forever. After Mao died, China rose from the ashes like a phoenix and a lot has changed since then.

For instance, China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 11, 2001. The admission of China to the WTO was preceded by a lengthy process of negotiations and required significant changes to China itself.

Many elements in China’s WTO accession agreement required improving the rule of law. When China joined the WTO, China agreed to ensure that its legal measures would be consistent with its WTO obligations and that led to China’s Rule of Law Reform.

In addition, China made a substantial number of other WTO commitments related to the rule of law in areas of transparency, judicial review, uniform enforcement of laws, and nondiscriminatory treatment.

China then reformed its judicial processes to ensure that they were compatible with its WTO commitments.

This transition from Chinese to western legalism hasn’t been as smooth as some critics wanted it to be, but it is taking place, and it’s clear that in the last few decades China has made an effort to fit into the community of nations while retaining its own identity.

That might be explained by the differences between Chinese legalism and Western legalism primarily related to morality. Western legalism defends the rule-of-law but argues against the morality of law. In contrast, Chinese legalism, especially in the early Pre-Qin era, did not separate morality from the law.

The fidelity to law in Chinese legalism was interpreted as the fidelity to the monarch in moral terms often as defined by Confucianism. In other words, morality in the United States and Europe is mostly based on the teachings of Christianity and many western philosophers while the morality of China is mostly based on Confucianism.

Understanding China’s history and the morality that’s part of its legal system is often ignored by many in the west, especially many Americans that judge China based on Western values and laws.

For instance, a conservative, born-again Christian, former friend of mine, once said to me that China needed a proper legal system. Since China already had a legal system, what did he mean by that?

I knew this individual for almost sixty-years, and I’m sure he meant that China should have a legal system like the one in the U.S. or the U.K. After all, he claimed scripture guided his life and the Christian Bible has been around for centuries proving it comes from God. To him, that meant there was no other choice. For his approval, China had to bend toward Christian scripture.

The problem with that logic is Confucius was around spreading his teaching for centuries before Jesus Christ was born, and the fact that the New Testament didn’t exist for centuries until after Christ died meant that what Confucius taught has been around longer. Was God behind that too?

The Chinese learned from Confucius while in the West we learned from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. There were many other voices that influenced western thought, and Eternity in an Hour provides a list of famous western philosophers.  Do you think that too many voices often leads to confusion, and that might explain why Chinese civilization has been more stable over the millennia than the west has?

If China becomes the world’s super power in the next fifty to one-hundred years, will the Chinese judge the United States and Europe based on Confucian morality?

Discover The Return of Confucious To China

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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How are women doing in China compared to the United States?

October 10, 2017

In 1949, Mao announced that women hold up half the sky. In one day they went from being the property of men to being equal. Sixty-eight years later, how are women doing in China?

China’s women make up 48.1 percent of the population, but Catalyst.org reports, “In 2016, only 17.5 percent of firms in China have women as top managers. … Less than one-quarter (24.2%) of all positions in China’s single-house parliament are held by women.”

When we isolate China and report these facts, China looks bad, doesn’t it?

But how does China compare to the United States when it comes to women reaching the top?

In the United Staets women make up 50.8 of the population.  American Progress.org says, “They are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.” In addition, Rutgers.edu reports, “21 women (21%) serve in the United States Senate, and 84 women (19.3%) serve in the United States House of Representatives.”

The Harvard Business Review says, “In the decades since Deng Xiaoping instituted market reform, millions of women have profitably followed Deng’s dictate that “to get rich is glorious.”

Quartz.com tells us “No country comes even close to China in self-made female billionaires.” China has 56 self-made female billionaires; The United States only has 15. China has almost four times as many self-make female billionaires.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

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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Will Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Save America’s Global Image?

May 23, 2017

The Independent reports, “Donald Trump has ‘dangerous mental illnesses, say psychiatry experts at Yale conference.” … Mental health experts say President is ‘paranoid and delusional’

With a dangerous nutcase as president of the United States appointing diplomats that think like him, who will become the diplomates of good will in countries like China to influence future generations to love America and see it as a peaceful fun nation to be friends with?

The Financial Times says that Disney Publishing Worldwide has been opening English language schools in China.

The curriculum features Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, the Little Mermaid and other Disney characters.

Enrolling children in this privately funded Disney language school is not cheap. It costs between $1,800 and $2,200 annually depending on which publication you read.

I’ve written before about how important an education is to Chinese parents so it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that Disney isn’t having problems finding students.  The challenge is to find enough qualified teachers.  Each classroom has “a local and a Western instructor.”


A Lesson for Disney – How to Teach English Correctly

Disney English continues to operate less than 30 schools in China nationwide. Since opening in 2009, many English language schools have opened their doors or copied the Disney English teaching method across mainland China. Disney English Centers continue to operate strongly in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzen, and Chengdu.

On the other hand, we learn from Vice.com that the ESL teachers hired to work for Disney English have discovered that Mikey Mouse and Donald Duck might not be that friendly.

***Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times just because she was Chinese.

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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The Unpredictable Killers Hiding Among Us

March 7, 2017

Nation Master ranks countries by the per capita murder rate. For every one million people, China had 10.1 murders in 2010 and was ranked #167 out of 193 countries. The United States was ranked #99 in 2010 with 40.01 murders per one-million population.

That tells us that we are about four times safer from being murdered in China than in the United States.  The #1 country for murders is Honduras where in 2011, more than 900 people were murdered for each one-million population.

Do you want to live in Honduras where the odds of being murdered are 90 times higher than China; 22 times higher than the U.S.?

How about the 98 countries with higher murder rates than the United States or the 166 countries ranked higher than China?

Let’s compare two news reports. One was in China and the other one took place in the U.S.  In both reports elementary school children were the targets.

From China, the BBC News reported, “A man with a knife has wounded 22 children – at least two of them seriously – and an adult at a primary school in central China. The attack happened at the gate of a school in Chenpeng village in Henan province. … Security at China’s schools has been increased in recent years following a spate of similar knife attacks in which nearly 20 children have been killed.”

So far, in China’s most recent grade school assault, no one has been reported with firearms, but in the United States, in a similar incident, the death toll was shocking.

Fox News reported, “At least 26 dead in shooting at Connecticut elementary school. … Authorities say at least 26 people, including 18 children, were killed Friday when a gunman clad in black military gear opened fire inside a Connecticut elementary school.

“A law enforcement official said the shooter, who is dead, was from New Jersey and had ties to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Authorities recovered a Glock and Sig Sauer 9mm handgun, but it was unclear who killed the shooter, who wore black combat garb and a military vest.”

To understand why, I Googled “profile of mass murderers” and discovered that unlike serial killers mass murderers are hard to profile and are unpredictable.

Dr. Michael Stone told The Daily Beast, “Usually you’re dealing with an angry, dissatisfied person who has poor social skills or few friends, and then there is a trigger that sets them off.” … adding that 96.5 percent of mass murderers are male, and a majority aren’t clinically psychotic. Rather, they suffer from paranoia and often have acute behavioral or personality disorders.

When I checked the list of school massacres by rampage killers, 155 were listed as killed in the U.S. and 58 in China.

Infoplease.com lists the 100 worldwide mass and/or school shootings from 1996 to the present. There wasn’t one listed for China. If you click the link, you will discover that 79 of the 100 worldwide mass shootings took place in the United States.

If you are Donald Trump or a supporter of Donald Trump, before you blame immigrants for these shootings, click the Infoplease link in the previous paragraph first and discover who pulled the triggers. Always check the facts first before jumping to conclusions. If Donald Trump had done that when he publicly claimed that illegal immigrants were responsible for a terrorist attack in Sweden THAT NEVER HAPPENED, he wouldn’t have made a fool of himself again, and again, and again.

If the safety of your family and children was more important to you than Freedom of Speech and choice of religion, what country would you live in?

Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times, because she was Chinese.

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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Is There a Turkey Day in China Too?

November 23, 2016

Turkey is a fowl many Chinese seldom eat. However, eating duck and chicken is common. Duck is even considered a delicacy. In fact, the Unvegan says, “No trip to Beijing is complete without eating some Peking Duck.”

The Virtual Tourist says, “It is thought that Beijing roast duck, like the tradition of roast turkey in America and the UK, owes its origin to the roast goose that is still popular in Europe on festive occasions.”

Most Americans do not celebrate the Chinese New Year (the Spring Festival) and most Chinese do not celebrate Thanksgiving. After all, Thanksgiving is an American holiday that Canadians also celebrate, but on the second Monday in October.


Thanksgiving in Beijing with Peking Duck

CBS News.com reported, “America is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of turkeys. As a nation we’re also the largest consumers of turkey …” and “China is the second-largest market for U.S. turkey exports, reportedly buying more than $70.5 million in turkey meat in 2012.”

If you are visiting China during Thanksgiving, you have a choice between Peking Duck, which is easy to find, and turkey.

Go China says, “Just head to your local international grocery store (Jenny Lu’s in Beijing, Cityshop in Shanghai) and stock up on all the fixings: frozen Butterball turkeys, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie makings. But you better do it fast, there tends to be a run on these items so if you’re shopping on the last Thursday in November, you’ll be out of luck.”

In fact, if you are visiting Shanghai, the Shanghai City Guide is there to help you find where to buy your favorite food. There are even three Walmarts in Shanghai, and Time Out Beijing provides a list for China’s capital city.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Does China have its own version of Halloween?

October 31, 2016

The closest celebration in China to Halloween in the United States is The Hungry Ghost Festival celebrated the 14th or 15th night of the 7th lunar month in July or August. This year that day fell on August 17th.

The Ghost Festival, also known as The Hungry Ghost Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday celebrated by Chinese in many countries, in which ghosts and/or spirits of deceased ancestors come from the lower realm and/or hell to visit the living.

Buddhists and Taoists in China claim that the Ghost Festival originated with the canonical scriptures of Buddhism, but many of the visible aspects of the ceremonies originate from Chinese folk religion, and other local folk traditions (The Ghost Festival in Medieval China by Stephen Teiser).

In America, most children wear costumes and go door to door collecting free candy.  In China, the opposite takes place; food is offered to dead ancestors, joss paper is burned, and scriptures are chanted.

Chinese Culture.net says the Hungry Ghost Festival is “Celebrated mostly in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and especially in Singapore and Malaysia.” It is believed by many Chinese that during this month, the gates of hell are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who want food.

By comparison, History.com says, “Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.”

I think it’s interesting that the dead linked both America’s Halloween and China’s Hungry Ghost Festival, at least historically.

As a child, I loved wearing a costume on Halloween and going out “trick-or-treating” at night to return home with a heavy bag (usually a pillowcase) filled with candy.

I still remember how much my stomach hurt and how terrible I felt after gorging myself on all that free processed sugar.

Today, due to the epidemic of diabetes and overweight or obese children in the United States (also in China mostly among its new middle class), I stopped celebrating Halloween years ago, and do not give candy to children. The last time I gave treats to children on Halloween, I handed out small boxes of raisins (sweet dried grapes) instead of candy, and one mother called me cheap.

But Science Daily.com comes to my defense with: “Teenagers who consume a lot of added sugars in soft drinks and foods may have poor cholesterol profiles—which may possibly lead to heart disease in adulthood, according to first-of-its-kind research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.”

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, “Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups and have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults and children, type 2 diabetes.”

The American Diabetes Association says, “25.8 million children and adults in the US have diabetes while 79 million have prediabetes. Due to excessive sugar consumption, the risk of diabetes may lead to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, and/or amputation of feet and legs.”

Maybe Americans should learn something from the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. Do not feed that sweet addictive candy to children.  Instead, give the sugar to the dead and have your children eat apples, because there’s a lot of truth to the old saying that if you eat an apple a day, it will help keep the doctor away. If you doubt that, read this from Science Daily.

Discover Anna May Wong, the woman that died a thousand times.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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