This post was edited by expatter at 2013-2-11 11:20|
The other day I was yet minded again of how many Chinese both young and old seem to be oblivious of their surroundings and actions. Some of these might be simple things such as crossing a road without looking, walking in the road in small groups, walking down the street reading their electronic device, cycling or riding the wrong way up a busy motorway and just seemingly unaware of anything or other.
It is not uncommon to see Chinese on their mobile phones whilst they give a secondary value to driving their car and the attitude seems almost so casual to the relevance of the situation it is almost surreal. Many drivers seem to want their toddler standing on the front passenger seat in the car and are completely unconcerned that the ‘little one’ will exit the car through the windscreen with horrific injuries in the event of a crash. The situation is such it makes one feel that Chinese people do not look ahead or have an awareness of the possible outcomes of their actions. That prompts me to ask whether this apparent lack of concern for safety or awareness is a cultural thing or would it be that awareness is not part of the early education cycle.
I first noticed this back in 1994 when I came to China and one of the real eye-openers was the ubiquitous blue lorries which consisted of a main truck and a trailer and I was curious why the truck and the trailer had elasticized web netting between them as I had not seen this before. It was explained to me that if the webbing were not there then pedestrians would climb over the towbar between the two when the lorry halted rather than go round the truck and trailer. This would result at times in horrific injuries if the lorry started moving again. In the West to my mind this webbing was not needed for adults because of the awareness of the danger of that situation and people there would make the effort to go around the whole vehicle, but in China or even Asia in places the webbing was a necessity because of a lack of awareness of the danger.
It may be that Westerners are cosseted or even ‘nagged’ by their parents from birth in that we are constantly made aware of dangers and ‘what might happen’ and this is backed up by a raft of safety rules driven in even during schooling such as the ‘Green-Cross-Code’ where we are taught that when crossing a road we must look left, then right, then left again before crossing. Safety adverts were also broadcast on television and especially in relation to good driving and pedestrian practices, in other words a high sense of awareness even in how to walk down a street and give-way to other pedestrians. Other strange and seemingly odd things come to mind such as the value, importance and purpose of an orderly queue where no one person has the right to deny another their correct turn. In addition, as a child I remember the constraints placed upon myself and siblings when it came to interaction with adults and the limits one could go to before getting in trouble. This code of conduct and awareness seems to be handed down to each generation and maybe now there are even more constraints on children’s behavior in that in modern society there is an awareness that children are no longer safe if left to play on the streets alone because of the instances of child molesters and violence.
One might at this point take the idea that in the past Western parents were or are quite strict in laying down a path of social conduct and awareness for their children whilst in the East they have a much more relaxed attitude to this. It might beg the question whether it is better for a child to grow up with a strict set of guidelines or whether a child will grow up more relaxed and happy with a much more lenient approach. I think that argument has a dichotomy though when in the East the home life is relaxed only to be confronted with school regimes that can be very strict, but only in relation to conduct and expectations within the school rather than the wider environs.
Another thought here would be the idea that maybe children with more awareness might be more creative in that they may question their surroundings to a higher level and therefore more likely to be innovative in their life.
Here I will return to the original idea of whether ‘awareness’ is a cultural thing or is it just a process in the education cycle of children, and most importantly:
Is it important for people to have ‘awareness’ and is it a necessity for our daily lives?