Guest Post—They All Look Alike

February 12, 2010

By Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption
Originally published at Speak Without Interruption on February 8, 2010

One of our US government officials reportedly made a comment with the word “retarded” in it.  There was also an attempt to make a joke using “Special Olympics” on a TV show in the past.  Why do people say the things they do?  Why have I said some of things I have said?  When I have made comments at the expense of others, I thought either it was funny or it made me feel important in some perverse way.  As I have gotten older, experience has taught me to think before I speak—at least a little more than I did in my younger years.  What someone says as a casual statement—or an attempt to make a joke—can offend others on a multitude of levels.

 There are a little over 1.3 billion people in China from the figures I have seen.  I have had people say to me, “With that many people, how do you tell them apart?  They all look alike.” 

 After having an association with specific Chinese people since 1998, I take great offense when someone says something like this to my face or within earshot.  To me, they do not all look alike.  They may all have similar physical features but I see each person I have met in my business dealings as a singular and unique individual just as I would feel about anyone I met throughout the world.  As you meet people—speak with them—get to know them, I think everyone has personal features, mannerisms, personalities that make them different from other people in the world.

 In terms of my feelings for China, and its people, it is only based on those who I have met personally.  As I view it, there are values that I have found all Chinese possess—the reverence of  family and respect for their elders.  I wish these values were more evident in the US. 

 With 1.3 billion people milling around China, how can they have these values when there are so many of them?  I once worked with a product that was to replace the toxic cleaner Nitric Acid.  In most instances, the shipping tanks in the ocean liners have to be cleaned out after they are emptied. 

 They send “Chinese People” into these tanks to spray them out.  One contact actually said, “There are so many Chinese that when one dies from being exposed to the Nitric Acid there are a million more to take their place.”  It was all I could do to keep my hands from going around his neck or punching his lights out — being older at the time, I felt he was not worth the hassle.

 I believe the respect for family—and elders—in China is not something just confined to my small group of acquaintances there.  I think this is something that is countrywide, and I feel this is a virtue beyond description.  During one of my visits, my friend and primary associate invited me to a party to honor his new young son. 

 We held this event in a large, private room within a very nice restaurant.  There were many people there, and as I have written regarding other situations, I was again the only non-Chinese in the room.  I felt completely at ease and extremely honored he would invite me to such an important “family event”.  The photo above shows me with my associate, his wife, his mother, and his new young son. I did, and still do, feel like part of their family.  To me they remain friends, family and associates, and they “certainly” do not all look alike to me!

See The First of All Virtues

If you want to read previous posts by Bob Grant, please see Love Affair

The First of all Virtues – Part 5/9

January 31, 2010

During the summer of 2007, a teen with his supposed girlfriend, both strangers, wanted to rent a room for an hour or two at a motel. We had just pulled into that motel’s parking lot in Southern California after driving several hundred miles. We heard the motel manager say, “No way!”

The boy turned to me as I was getting out of the car, and he said, “Hey, old man, can you give us a ride to the next motel? They will not rent us a room here.”

I’m sure this adolescent was out for quick sex. He probably didn’t even know the girl’s name or care. But the lack of respect for an older person was obvious. And of course, conservatives don’t help any when they promote their brand of brainwashing like this blog post Liberal Brainwashing for Dummies.

Mudslinging isn’t going to solve anything. What America needs is both ideologies to work together to strengthen the family by teaching parents how to say “NO” and stop encouraging kids to do what feels good.

Go to The First of All Virtues Part 6 or return to Part 4


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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American Hypocrisy

January 28, 2010


The American Hypocrisy and Multicultural Respect

Why am I writing about China? Simple—many Americans do not respect the differences between cultures. They say they do, but I don’t believe them. During the 2008-2009 school year, our daughter returned home one day to tell us that her history teacher talked about China and said the people had to be very depressed to live under a totalitarian government like the Communists.

Retired citizens playing Chinese chess in a Shanghai park.

When our daughter attempted to disagree, the teacher and the entire class put her down, so she shut up. Now it is January 2010 (another school year), and she came home recently and said the same thing happened during another class discussion, but this time she stayed quiet and fumed.

 I taught English and journalism in American public schools for thirty years. The high school where I taught was a spicy multicultural soup where I learned that teachers should know what they are talking about or keep quiet.

Our daughter, a senior in high school now, was born in Chicago and grew up speaking English. Her mother was born in Shanghai and survived Mao’s Cultural Revolution (which caused the deaths of at least thirty million). My wife came to the United States in the 1980s when she was twenty-eight. Our daughter has been to China sometimes twice a year during her eighteen years, and she speaks fluent Mandarin with no accent. She has also been learning Spanish since Middle School.

I wanted to educate that ignorant teacher with facts about China, but my wife and daughter said not to stir the pot (very Chinese). I’ve been to China many times and have never seen the people depressed as I’ve seen in the country of my birth. I was born in Southern California soon after World War II. My ancestors come from Ireland, England and Europe.

When in China, you hear little about the government unless you listen to the official, government media. The people are too busy enjoying life to be bothered by a government that is doing all it can to raise the standard of living for 1.3 billion Chinese. I see more depression and anger in America during more than six decades of life than I have seen in China the last ten.

There are seventy million communists in China and more than a billion people that love life and live it to the fullest without chasing one material thing after another with credit-card debt.  

My wife has an American-born friend who broke into tears once because she couldn’t charge a two thousand dollar jacket–her credit cards debt was maxed out. I’ve never seen or heard of that type of behavior in China. I’m sure it happens, but I haven’t witnessed it. Most Chinese live simple lives in simple, but crowded, surroundings. Over the years, I’ve discovered that family, friends and gaining an education are more important to most Chinese than buying material junk.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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