The Impact of Cultural and Lifestyle Choices during a Pandemic

May 13, 2020

China is a collectivist culture based on valuing the needs of a group or a community over the individual.

Better the Future.org says, “The traditional Chinese diet consists of low or moderate amounts of meat or fish and plenty of vegetables accompanied by starches like rice or noodles. Tea is often served with dinner instead of soft drinks. Desserts are generally not part of the meal but fresh fruits can be served to help with digestion.”

The BBC reported, “China reported the cases to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s global health agency, on 31 December.… The mayor of Wuhan has previously admitted there was a lack of action between the start of January – when about 100 cases had been confirmed – and 23 January, when city-wide restrictions were enacted. …

“WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has hailed China for the ‘speed with which [it] detected the outbreak’ and its ‘commitment to transparency’.”

The United States is an individualist culture. Very Well Mind.com says, “Individualistic cultures are those that stress the needs of the individual over the needs of the group as a whole.”

Health.gov tells us about the Current Eating Patterns in the United States. “The typical eating patterns currently consumed by many in the United States do not align with the Dietary Guidelines. … About three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils.

“More than half of the population is meeting or exceeding total grain and total protein foods recommendations (and) … are not meeting the recommendations for the subgroups within each of these food groups.

“Most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

“The high percentage of the population that is overweight or obese suggests that many in the United States overconsume calories. As documented, more than two-thirds of all adults and nearly one-third of all children and youth in the United States are either overweight or obese.”

How do these cultural and lifestyle choices translate to death by COVID-19?

On May 6, 2020, Statista reported that the United States was 1st place for COVID-19 deaths worldwide.

1st Place: The United States with 72,284 deaths

2nd place: the UK with 29,427 deaths (the UK is also an individualist culture)

11th place: China with 4,633 deaths (where the pandemic started)

The Smithsonian Magazine reports that “U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for Third Year in a Row, Reflecting Rising Drug Overdoses, Suicides,” and Global News reported, “The novel coronavirus is a bundle of proteins. It doesn’t care about faith, freedom, jobs or right-wing conspiracy theories, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of Americans from defying all medical advice to protest against lockdown measures meant to keep them safe — often while standing unmasked and shoulder to shoulder.”

What about life expectancy in China? Macrotrends says, “The Current Life expectancy for China in 2020 is 76.96 years, a 0.22 percent increase from 2019.”  In fact, China has seen a slow and steady increase in life expectancy since 1950. Click the link in this paragraph to see for yourself.

It is apparent that the price for individual freedoms in the U.S. means shorter lifespans and a higher risk of death by COVID-19. What freedom means in the United States depends on each individual.

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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Who was the Real Anna May Wong?

April 22, 2020

Anna May Wong was born an American citizen on January 3, 1905, and died February 3, 1961. She was the first Chinese-American movie star and the first Asian-American actress to gain international fame.

On March 1, 2003, Bill Moyers reported, Anna was American-born, confident in ways her father’s generation could never be, still she lived suspended between two countries, starting with how people saw her.

“Americans regard [us] as a dark, mysterious race,” Anna May once said, “impossible to understand. Why is it that the screen Chinese is always the villain? And so crude a villain — murderous, treacherous, a snake in the grass. I was so tired of the parts I had to play.”

In fact, because if the films she appeared in, she became known as The Woman that Died a Thousand Times.

By the time she was 32, and an established Hollywood star, in August 1937, Japan invaded Shanghai. Anna’s younger sister was living there at the time and managed to escape, but their family couldn’t get out. In 1938, Anna managed to get her family back in the United States. Then she started working with Chinatown communities to get rid of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Five years later in 1943, this racist legislation that targeted Chinese was repealed.

The Exclusion Act (1882 – 1943) made it virtually impossible for Chinese to have a normal family life inside the United States. The Exclusion law applied to Chinese laborers. It exempted merchants, travelers and students. What this meant to the Chinese who could not become a merchant, and what it meant was not a student or a traveler what it meant was that he could not bring his wife. – Stanford Lyman (Historian)

As a young girl, Anna skipped school to watch silent films at local theaters. By the time she was 9, she had set a goal to become a movie star.  She hung around the studios, including MGM, asking for extra work instead of going to school. Eventually, she landed some rolls. At 17, it’s rumored that she had an affair with an older but married director.

In 1924, at 19, Anna had her first success when she played a Mongol slave in the classic film “The Thief of Bagdad” cast alongside Douglas Fairbanks.

According to Cal Van Vechten’s daughter, Anna May had a brief affair with co-star Vincent Price. – Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend, page 164. While acting on stage in Turandot, she also had a brief affair with her costar. – Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography, page 77.

The first Chinese film star in Hollywood, the rolls she could play were limited. The Hays Code did not permit the portrayal of interracial relationships on-screen. However, Anna’s rumored lovers, from Vincent Price to Marlene Dietrich, were white, and Douglas Fairbanks called her the “Chink in my amour”. Her most famous movies were denounced as “ghost films” and banned in China. – The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies.

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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Surviving a Pandemic: China vs the United States

March 25, 2020

China is a collective culture and the United States is individualistic. FutureLearn.com says, “Individualism stresses individual goals and the rights of the individual person. Collectivism focuses on group goals, what is best for the collective group, and personal relationships.”

While it is true that China got off to a bad start when local officials in the city of Wuhan attempted to silence and punish Dr. Li Wenliang for sending out a warning about the COVID-19 virus, it didn’t take long before China’s central government acted aggressively to contain the spread of the epidemic.

On December 27, Wuhan health officials learned that a new coronavirus was making people sick. Four days later, China informed the World Health Organization’s office in China.

Then on January 7, China’s President Xi Jinping became involved. Eleven days later Beijing sends epidemiologists to Wuhan to determine what is happening.

On January 21st, the CDC in the United States confirmed the first COVID-19 case. Two days later, China, locked down Wuhan and three other nearby cities, days before Dr. Li Wenliang died on February 7 from COVID-19. The lockdown was not voluntary. It was mandatory.

By March 19, China Daily reported, “The lockdown of Wuhan, the city hardest-hit by the novel coronavirus in China, could gradually be lifted if no new cases are reported for two consecutive weeks, which may happen in April, a top public health expert said.

“However, strict disease control and prevention measures will still be needed to prevent a possible rebound of the outbreak, said Li Lanjuan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a senior adviser to the nation’s top health authority.”

Meanwhile, in the United States on January 22, President Donald Trump, a hard-core individualist, because almost every word out of his mouth or from his Twitter account is about how great he is or an attack on someone else or another country, said, “We have it totally under control.”

That was the same day it was confirmed that the first American had COVID-19.

February 2, Trump said, “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China. It’s going to be fine.”

The number of confirmed victims in the U.S. had climbed to 8.

February 24, Trump said, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

But the number of confirmed infected individuals was increased by 27, and CNBC reported, “Stocks plunge for a second day as the DOW lost more than 800 points on Tuesday.”

February 25, Trump said, “CDC and my administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”

Eighteen more victims of COVID-19 were confirmed in the United States.

February 26: Trump said, “The 15 cases within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” He also said, “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

Six more cases were reported by February 27.

On March 4 (Source: The White House), Trump said. “If we have thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work – some of them go to work, but they get better.” Trump made this comment during an interview on Fox News. At the time, the CDC was urging employers to have workers stay home. Later that day, Trump defended himself, “I never said people that are feeling sick should go to work.” Source: CBS News

By the end of March 4, another 51 confirmed cases had been added to the list.

Meanwhile, many of Donald Trump supporters, individuals that seem to think like him, refused to self-quarantine. “Trump supporters have been warned incessantly not to trust mainstream journalistic coverage of the issue.” Source: The Atlantic.com 

Between March 4 and March 18, another 7,078 confirmed cases had been added to the list. — Statista.com

“Though President Trump said March 7 that ‘anyone who wants a test can get a test,’ the United States’ limited testing capacity means that in practice, only a fraction of people who have symptoms are being tested.” – LiveScience.com

To see the list of Trump’s lies from January 22 to March 13, click on Snopes.com.

 

I started my self-quarantine on March 13th and have gone out once to buy supplies. I was gone for about an hour on March 19. While out, I saw two shoppers (of dozens) wearing masks and they were a young Asian American couple. Later, while at Trader Joes, I saw one cashier (Caucasian) with a face mask, but it was hanging around her neck and wasn’t covering her mouth or nose.

Time.com reported, “Why Wearing a Face mask is Encouraged in Asia, but Shunned in the U.S.”

What do you think – Do collectivist cultures like China have an advantage over an individualist country like the United States when it comes to dealing with a pandemic like COVID-19?

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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What does it take to bring about change?

March 11, 2020

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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Does Impeach mean “to Remove from office”

December 11, 2019

Britannica says, “In the United States the impeachment process has rarely been employed, largely because it is so cumbersome. It can occupy Congress for a lengthy period of time, fill thousands of pages of testimony, and involve conflicting and troublesome political pressures. Repeated attempts in the U.S. Congress to amend the procedure, however, have been unsuccessful, partly because impeachment is regarded as an integral part of the system of checks and balances in the U.S. government.”

The U.S. House of Representatives has impeached 19 individuals since 1798, but only eight were found guilty and removed from office.  Click the link to learn who the guilty were.

What about China?

In China’s Constitution, removal from office is mentioned 15 times. For instance: “The National People’s Congress (NPC) has the power to remove from office the following persons: (1) the President and the Vice President of the People’s Republic of China …” China’s Constitution goes on to mention many other positions where individuals can be removed from office.

After a long Google search, I found one example of a CCP official being removed from office. “On April 10, 2012, the Communist Party suspended one of its top leaders, Bo Xilai, from his posts on the Party’s Politburo and Central Committee, and announced that the Party’s graft-fighting arm, the Central Discipline Inspection Commission, would be investigating him for alleged ‘serious discipline violations.’ The Party had removed Bo from his post as Party Secretary of powerful Chongqing Municipality just weeks earlier, on March 15.”

It wasn’t easy finding information about CCP Officials that were removed from office due to corruption/crimes until I changed the search terms I was using. Then I found the following information.

May 2018, the Guardian reported, “China sentences former political rising star to life in prison for corruption. Sun Zhengcai is one of the most powerful officials to be toppled under President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign. …

“He became the first politburo member to be investigated since Bo, who was charged with corruption and sentenced to jail in 2013. Sun was expelled from the CCP in September after the party accused him of taking bribes and trading power for sex.”

In addition, The South China Morning Post reports that “Xi Jinping’s anti-graft drive has caught so many officials that Beijing’s elite prison is running out of cells. …

“It looks like being a particularly grim Lunar New Year in the ‘tigers cage’ this week. The notorious Qincheng maximum-security prison houses many disgraced senior Communist Party officials …

“The source said the prison was packed to the gills with inmates – a product of President Xi Jinping’s ferocious anti-corruption drive that has netted more than 1.3 million officials at various levels.” – February 2018

The score for impeachment and/or removal from office:

China: millions since 1949

United States: eight since 1798

Maybe the United States should transfer President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to China where the American people might get a fair verdict. And if found guilty in China, let Donald Trump serve his prison sentence there, too. At least in China, Donald Trump would not have access to Twitter from his prison cell.

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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