Deep Family Roots

March 28, 2010

In 1967, I was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. Between June 5 to 10, six months after I returned from Vietnam, Israel fought the Six-Day War defeating four Islamic nations that had twice the troops Israel had, three times the combat aircraft and three times as many tanks.

Israel and Syria During the Six Day War

I remember saying, “We should let them fight the Vietnam War for us.  At least Israel’s leaders know how to fight.”

The Jews and the Chinese have four things in common—loyalty to family, a high respect for education, a willingness to work long hours for low pay, and a canny acumen for business. Because of these similarities, the Chinese have even been called the Jews of Asia.

The Jews have a long history with China. In China: A New Promised Land, by R. E. Prindle, an interview with David Grossman, Israel’s leading novelist talks about the Jews moving to China.

When a father goes to work in China, he works for his family—not himself. After the children grow up, they must care for their parents—not the other way around like in America.  In America, many parents tell their children to do whatever they want and be anything they want. Most children follow that advice even if it means getting a degree to become an artist or skipping college to chase dreams of acting, singing or sports fame while attending parties or visiting theme parks like Disneyland because mom and dad said, “We want you to be happy—to have fun.”

It’s different for many Jews and Chinese. Working hard and earning an education are important to both cultures.  A close friend of mine and his wife, both Jewish, took out a loan on their home so their son could become a doctor and their daughter a lawyer. They bought a condominium near the university their children attended as a place to live. Both the mother and father were teachers, who did not earn much, which shows that Jewish parents, like the Chinese, are willing to sacrifice for their children in ways many American parents would find unacceptable in the age of credit cards and instant gratification.

Li Family - Three Generations

Three Generations of the Proud Li Family

This willingness to sacrifice for the family and nation may have been the reason the Jews won the Six-Day War against overwhelming odds. Although the Chinese have the same values and are willing to make the same sacrifices for family, they did not know how to fight like the Jews—something the surviving Jews must have learned due to Nazi atrocities.

After Mao won China, he caused much suffering with the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution where the goal may have been to root out the weaknesses that caused China to become a victim to Western Imperialism in the 19th century and Japan during World War II.

I wonder if the Chinese learned the lessons Mao taught them through suffering similar to what the Jews experienced from Hitler.  I wonder if China will fight like Israel if threatened again. Before Mao, China was a country of poets and artists who painted watercolors on rice paper.  Even Mao and his generals wrote poems. I do not believe the Chinese are a military threat to anyone who does not threaten them.

Like Israel, China will only respond if they feel they are going to be attacked, and if Mao left them ready to defend themselves against aggressors, then the horrors that caused so much suffering and death during the 27 years he ruled China might have been worth the sacrifice for the survival of this family focused culture.

Most America families were like that once before the industrial revolution and the self-esteem movement made the individual more important than the family. Back then, 90% of the population lived on small family farms near towns and hamlets instead of bulging cities dominated by corporate cultures and sexy advertisements. Today, most family roots in the United States do not run deep—not like the Chinese and Jews.

Discover The First of all Virtues

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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