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The cultural differences between China and America are not superficial. In some ways, I believe they represent two poles of human culture, that may seem to conflict, yet I think they are complementary, like Yin and Yang. |
To understand the mentality of America. one must know that the nation of the USA was born in an act of rebellion. This means that in a certain way, rebelliousness is part of our heritage. Rebelliousness as a quality is respected in America. But there is constant conflict over the question, "Against whom or what should we rebel?" Different political factions have different ideas about what should be rebelled against, and there is often bitter conflict over this question. Yet, the quality of rebelliousness itself is somewhat honored in America.
On the other hand, I have the impression that rebelliousness is a bad quality from the point of view of Chinese people. There is a Confucian view that authority must be respected and only bad people rebel against authority. If this is not really the Chinese point of view, I would love to be corrected. I love the internet and the fact that it allows us to communicate this way. When I was young, during the Cold War, when China was regarded as an enemy, direct communication was impossible and unthinkable.
Back to the subject of the United States of America. As I said, it was born in an act of rebellion. The American Revolution inspired the French Revolution, which in turn inspired Marx with the possibility that the masses could rise up and overthrow their oppressors. In a certain way, we could say, truly, that America and its rebelliousness inspired Marx.
The population of the USA is made up mostly of people (or descendants of people) who took the initiative to leave their homeland for an unknown place. Thus, on top of the rebelliousness that created the country, we have immigrants who came on the quest for the new and better lives. The European part of the American population is descended from people who left their familiar world and went across the ocean to a strange and unknown world, where they hoped to make a better life. Thus, European-Americans (as well as most other descendants of immigrants) are descended from people who were not afraid of the unknown and were willing to cut their ties with the past. This has become a defining trait of American culture.
As a result, we see in American culture a readiness to reject what is old; to scorn the idea that there are limits; to question authority; and to explore the unknown. Thus, in America, innovation and creativity are prized and encouraged.
China, of course, reveres what is old, reveres propriety, and values harmony above all. China values the wisdom of the past because China HAS such a treasure of wisdom from the past.
I believe that, as actors on the world stage in front of humanity, China and America represent a yin-yang symbol. in important ways they are opposites, yet they are complementary. Each one brings an opposite treasure to humanity and each one has much to teach the other.
These are my thoughts, although I am very ignorant about China and have never been there.
I would be very interested in hearing the honest thoughts of Chinese people about what I said or the subject of Chinese/American cultural differences.