The differences between Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 5/5

December 21, 2012

Individuals in a collectivist culture tend to view themselves as members of groups (families, work units, tribes, nations), and usually considers the needs of the group to be more important than the needs of an individual.

Most Asian cultures, including China, tend to be collectivist.

Another example between individualism and collectivism is Piety (respect for elders). In the West, evidence suggests that the young are being spoiled to the point where many Western children are rude to elders expecting them to be invisible and silent, while in China that same behavior is often the reverse—at least it was before Western fast food and consumerism appeared in China.

In China, when there is a conflict of interest between individuals and the collective, individuals are expected to sacrifice their own benefits for the sake of the collective well-being.

On the other hand, an individualist culture is one in which people tend to view themselves as individuals and to emphasize the needs of the individual over the well being of the group. Source: Travel China Guide – a discussion about individualist and Collectivist Cultures

Are there exceptions?  Of course, but those exceptions seldom represent the average or majority.

Return to Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 4 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

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The Before and After of Vin Chengzong

September 19, 2011

My goal with this Blog is to remove the western-Sinophobe stereotype of Communist China and the Chinese, which is why I post on such a diverse variety of topics from history, to music, the arts, politics, current events and occasionally on an individual such as Vin Chengzon.

Vin Chengzong (born 1941) is another example that reveals where China has been and where it is today.

To some, he is considered the Court Pianist to the Cultural Revolution.

Most in the West do not know that music was an important part of the new art, which Cultural Revolution leaders proposed to replace the old music.

Although European classics were banned, Yin managed to create music that was highly Western in its technique, harmonic structure, instrumentation, and emphasis on choral singing. While the piano became an example of the bourgeoisie (the capitalist corruption of Western culture) and was in danger of vanishing from China, Yin transformed the piano from a target of the revolution into a positive symbol of radical change in Chinese culture. Source: Google Books

To accomplish this during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) when all Western art and music were forbidden, Yin ingeniously created the piano-accompanied version of The Legend of the Red Lantern, one of the Eight model plays, the only plays, operas and ballets permitted during the period.

Yin and other members of a special committee arranged this work in 1969 based on the Yellow River Cantata by Xian Xinghai. In the final movement of the concerto, Yin incorporated the melody The East Is Red. The instruments used, the piano and the orchestra, were all Western, but the music was heavily influenced by Chinese folk melodies.

Considered one of the world’s leading pianists, Yin was born on China’s “Piano Island” of Gulangyu in Xiamen, Fujian Province. He gave his first recital at age nine. Three years later, he entered the pre-college of the Shanghai Conservatory, and then transferred to the Central Conservatory in Beijing.

In 1983, following difficulties with the new government that came to power after Mao died, due to his alleged closeness to the Gang of Four, Yin immigrated to the US, where he made his debut in Carnegie Hall. Since then, he has performed for audiences around the world.

In fact, his solo performances have been featured on China Central Television and CBS Sunday Morning.

In 2010, Yin toured China for a ten-city tour with the Portuguese Chamber Orchestra celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Yellow River Concerto.

Formerly a professor and artist-in-residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Yin now lives in New York City.

You’ve Come a Long Ways, Babe is another example of an individual bringing about positive changes in China.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


The flaw behind “Don’t Do as I Do – Do As I Say”

August 29, 2011

Dictionary.com explains this self-deprecating phrase, which means you are conscious of your own shortcomings, with, “Don’t imitate my behavior but obey my instructions.”

The reason I am writing this post is because of Faithful Monuments, a piece I read in the May 2011 Smithsonian Magazine, which has nothing to do with China.

However, there is a connection to China with the “Do As I Say” phrase.

In Smithsonian, Jamie Katz quotes Shirley Macagni, a 79-year-old retired dairy rancher and great-grandmother of seven, who is also an elder of the Salinan tribe that inhabited California’s Central Coast for thousands of years.

Macagni feels, “It is unfair to judge 18th century attitudes and actions by contemporary standards,” and says, “They (the Spanish) didn’t deliberately say they’re going to destroy people…”

Macagni is referring to the Spanish conquest that brought Western civilization and/or Spanish cultural values including the Church to the Americas forging an empire in blood for gold.

John Selden’s phrase, “Don’t do as I do. Do as I say,” may be applied, with some revisions, to China. “It is unfair to judge Chinese attitudes and actions by contemporary Western Standards.”

In fact, Western and American civilization may also be judged by the standards of other cultures such as China.

Consider that contemporary Western standards underwent a drastic metamorphosis starting with the Industrial Revolution. This change altered how parents raised children, resulted in child labor laws, the building of national education systems, the rise of labor unions, and the liberation of women, etc.

Then the West decided to import these new values to the rest of the world even if the rest of the world was not ready or did not want them.

Henry Kissinger touches on this Western/American behavior in On China, where he says, “American exceptionalism is cultural. It holds that the United States has an obligation to spread its values to every part of the world.” In a CNN interview, he said, “So how to conduct ourselves in such a world – it’s a huge test for us… It’s a big challenge.”

In 1970, sociologist and futurist Alvin Toffler published Future Shock and defined the term as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies and what happens when there is too much change in too short a period.

Toffler argued that these sort of drastic changes overwhelmed people leaving them disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”. He said, “The majority of social problems were symptoms of this future shock.”

When we take what Toffler says into account, we have an explanation for everything that has taken place in China over the last century since the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.  The shattering stress and disorientation of future shock (forced on China by the West) led to China’s Civil War and Mao’s Cultural Revolution, etc.

Of course, when an individual is culturally and historically illiterate, it may be difficult to face this challenge Kissinger talks of – especially when we consider what Chris Hedges writes in America the Illiterate.

Hedges says, “We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth.

“The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth,” which may explain why so many in America and the West suffer from Sinophobia, a hostility toward the Chinese, Chinese culture, history and/or government, and a stubborn unwillingness to listen to the facts/truth and attempt to understand them.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 1/2

August 7, 2011

Today, Mao is judged by a Western value system that did not exist during his lifetime. His world was a place and time that molded him to be a survivor in a brutal world where failure often meant death.

It is now accepted that who individuals grow up to become as adults is partially due to genetics but mostly from the environment and lifestyle one experiences.

Mao grew up in another world nothing like most experience in the West, but he has been judged by Western humanitarian beliefs known today as “political correctness” that did not exist when he was born into China’s collective culture where the reverse was true and the individual was not more important than the whole.

There is a strong possibility that Mao also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and this may have influenced his behavior and decisions during the years he ruled China.

Helping Psychology says, “PTSD victims tend to be in a continuous state of heightened alertness. The trauma that precipitates the disorder essentially conditions them to be ever-ready for a life threatening situation to arise at any moment … But the continuous releases of brain chemicals that accompany this reaction time – and their inability to control when this heightened reactivity will occur – take psychological and biological tolls on PTSD victims over time.”

Before I continue, I want to say that American troops are not the only humans on this planet to suffer from PTSD. Every person is susceptible to the ravages of violent trauma and if we examine Mao’s life, it would be impossible to deny that PTSD may not have played a role in the decisions he made in old age.

In fact, Medicine Net.com says, “Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) usually results from prolonged exposure to a traumatic event or series thereof and is characterized by long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning.”

After examining Mao’s long history with violence and war, it is safe to say that he may have been a candidate for C-PTSD.

Before I wrote this two part series, I scheduled The Long March and China’s Great Leap Forward to appear in addition to The Cultural Revolution.

Continued on August 8, 2011 in Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Riots

July 17, 2011

When the Western media reports that a riot happened in China, do not mistake this unrest as a demand for a Western style democracy as the media did when the Tiananmen Square protests took place in 1989. Just because a few young people are captured on camera saying they want a democracy in China, that does not mean the majority of Chinese do.

For example, CNN reported a June 10, 2011 riot in Xintang located in southern China.

Witnesses and media reports said local officials beat up a pregnant migrant worker and her husband, pushing the woman to the ground. Mass protests ensued, quickly spiraling to violent clashes with government forces that spread to other parts of Xintang, a city of 400,000 residents, almost half of them migrant workers.

The result was the arrest of 19 men, which included nine teenagers.

If you read the CNN report, you will discover that a slowdown in economic growth (caused by the 2008 global financial crises, which started in the US) in China has caused social tensions between rural versus urban, ethnic minority against majority, and haves versus have-nots, which has led to several riots in different areas of China.

The same thing happened in 1947 when General (and dictator) Chiang Kai-shek ordered his army to quell a riot in Taiwan. The result was the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan where 30,000 civilians were killed by the military.

The reasons for riots around the world seldom have to do with a demand for a Western style democracy. Even in the Middle East where there have been riots and calls for democracy (according to the Western media), most of the people involved don’t know what a democracy is or how to set one up. They just want some form of social justice.

In 1992, in Los Angeles, there was the Rodney King riot caused by ethnic strife, which ended with about $1 billion in property damages with 53 people killed and thousands injured. The US Marines and Army had to be called in to regain control and there were shootings between the military and civilians.

Recently, in Oakland, California, there have been several riots due to the 2009 killing of an unarmed black man that took place at a BART station.  Hundreds took to the streets to protest while looters broke into stores and set cars on fire.

In 2001, England had riots in three cities due to tensions in the South Asian Islamic community. It was estimated that the riot in Bradford, England involved about a 1,000 youths and eventually 1,000 police to end it.

A recent riot in Vancouver erupted after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup.  After the game, many teenagers went on a rampage attempting to shatter store windows and loot stores.  When one man tried to stop them, he was jumped by no fewer than 15 people, who beat and kicked him until he was left a bloodied heap on the ground.

Wikipedia lists many of the reasons for riots, which may stem from the unlawful use of force by a group of police against civilians, prison riots, race riots, religious riots, student riots, urban riots, sports riots, and food/bread riots, which have taken place all over the world no matter what form of government a country has.

However, when the Western media reports riots in China, it is usually mentioned that China’s central government is challenged to prevent widespread grievances from taking place as if riots in China are different.

According to the history of riots, this challenge of an unruly civilian population is a problem all governments eventually face and the job of governments the world over is to end the killing and damage as soon as possible by whatever means to restore order.

In fact, Matthew 26:52 warns, “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword,” which may also means if you take part in a riot, you risk death or injury.

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Cultural Differences, the Ignorant American and Star Trek

May 21, 2010

I’ve watched Star Trek since the 1960s and have seen most of the spin offs.  In the Star Trek Universe there are many cultures and races—far too many for even Christians or Islam to convert since that seems to be a driving force behind both of these major religions even if it means using war and violence to make it happen.

One way to look at this is to consider cultures and countries like China, Japan, both Koreas, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and others as if they are light-years away from Western culture.

If the US sent a spaceship to a far off world around another star and discovered a culture that was alien to our way of life, but these aliens had powerful, modern weapons and a strong military to defend themselves there would be no way to force them to change as the West did to so many cultures during the 19th century and a good portion of the 20th.

But what if this culture around that foreign star had products and materials  we wanted or needed for our civilization to survive. To do business with them, we would have to accept that culture the way it was and not attempt to change them or judge them as if that planet were an American Territory to be terrorized and converted.

None of the Asian cultures on our earth developed from Christianity, Judaism or Islamic roots. Even our staunchest allies in Asia, Singapore and Thailand, are Asian cultures with governments that do not fit the America model.

What does loss of Face mean to most Chinese?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

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