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After 15 years being married to a Chinese woman, studying, learning and getting to know China, I believe I have worked out the main difference between China and the rest of the world.|
I know there are many 1000s of differences, habits, culture, political, history, all kinds of things that make every country in the world different, but this I believe is the one major difference in Chinese culture and it's people that is defferent to the rest of the world.
This is it...
"A Chinese over-obsession with small and minute details, to the point of anal retentiveness."
I'm not trying to be smart or derogatory or patronising or anything here, I'm making a genuine observation on Chinese culture which I think could even help the Chinese to look a bit more closely at themselves, understand this difference, and see how it may or may not effect the development of your culture into the future. Overall I consider Chinese people incredibly smart and intelligent, practical, desperately willing and eager to learn and develop this once proud culture to what it used to be. None of this is in question, but there is a genuine anal retentive obsession with tiny things which is spread across the entire culture that I think actually holds you back a lot of the time. It's like a small element of the infant stage of growing up was never developed and still gets carried into adulthood (again, I'm not being derogatory, these are genuine observations) Now please alow me to elaborate and explain how I have come to this conclusion.
Here are some examples of what I mean...
1. I have witnessed the eating habits of some of the Chinese in mainland China, devouring fish heads, ripping the heads off chickens and sucking the brains out of them. And yet, whilst preparing the chicken, you will anally sit down for 2 or 3 hours happily picking little tiny little marks and insignificant spots that no one else would even notice out of the chicken!
To a Chinese they may not understand what I mean here. But try to see how it is different to an outsider. You can eat eyeballs and chicken brains and all sorts of things that most people would not touch, you can eat them like a kid eats candy, and yet something so small and tiny as a little tiny spot or something on the chicken you'll spend hours and hours and hours obsessing over and picking every little bit out of. I mean, what's the point? This is that obsessive anal retentive part of your culture. You concentrate on the little tiny things of the food, obsess over them for hours, but not the big things.
2. Cleaning in China. I've noticed many peculiarities here. Old women will obsess over bizarre and certain things. I know the floor is a big thing. NOTHING must touch the floor in the house, and if anything does it's a fate worse than death. You'll obsess over every single little tiny mark of dirt on the floor, pick little specks of dust out of the carpet with your hands, for hours and hours you'll do this, obsessing over all the little tiny specks of dirt. Yet take one step outside of the house and the rest of the country is completely filthy and dirty! The entire big picture of cleanliness is not noticed, but tiny specks of dust are obsessed over for hours. But again, even in the house certain bigger things don't get noticed. The walls are always filthy in the house, they don't get noticed, just the specks of dirt. It's this obsession with the tiny and small things and not noticing the big things.
3. We go on hiking and camping trips in Australia a lot. We go fishing, swimming in rivers, we walk through bushland, we get dirty and have a good time. All these big things are going on whilst we do this, but what do you think my Chinese family concentrates on? If there's a tiny little speck of dirt on their hand they'll make the biggest fuss. We may have just swam in a river and slid down a muddy hill, it doesn't matter, all part of being in nature and living outsdoors. We're all thinking what a good time we had, ready to walk on to the next location. The Chinese are worried because there is a tiny small spot of dirt on their hand. Never mind all the other dirt and mud and being outsdoors, they'll obsess and concentrate on the one little tiny speck of dirt on their hand. It's like they don't understand the whole big picture of being on planet earth, being outside, it's just about this little spot of dirt. They obsess and concetrate on these little tiny things that do not matter, and THIS is the DIFFERENCE between Chinese people and the rest of the world. I believe it holds them back in life and prevents them from developing in a lot of ways.
4. You see it in a lot of political speeches and jargon in China also. Just pages and pages and pages and pages and hours and hours and hours of writing and talking about inty little things, when the bigger picutre is what needs to be looked at to concentrate on problems a lot of the time. We have a saying in Australia, it is "Don't beat around the bush" This means, don't talk around the problem, convering all the small issues that don't matter, just get straight to the point, get to the heart of the issue. This obsession with the small holds you back China. It's holds you back and pulls you down all the time. It is something that needs to get developed at an early age, because in past geneerations it hasn't been developed in your culture and so Chinese carry it into their adulthood.
5. Proof that this obsession with small things is a Chinese trait that has developed over many generations is the gold rush in Australia 200 years ago. The Chinese were even doing it back then. The rest of the world came to Australia for the gold rush, would dig for gold, get all of the big gold quickly until it was gone, then move onto another area. But if this new area didn't have any gold they might move back to the old area to see if they could find more that they might have missed. But what would happen when they went back to their old area. The Chinese had followed behind them, and individually hand picked EVERY SINGLE TINY GRAIN of gold that was left behind. I'm talking everything. They would sit there for days sifting through every single individual grain of dirt until there was not a single grain of gold left behind. This is that anal retentive obsession with small things even 200 years ago. I thought originally that it may have been something to do with being in a one-party controlled state that may have retarded certain aspects of development in your culture (that's another issue) but as you can see it was happening before the Communist Revolution, it has been going on for many 100s of years, it is a part of your culture that has developed that is different to the rest of the world. No other country would be bothered to sit down for hours and hours and hours siftiing through every tiny grain of dirt, but it's like an obsession in Chinese culture, it's a part of your world and your lives that is different.
This I believe to be the main difference between Chinese culture and the rest of the world.
I'm happy to debate on this and listen to other opinions. As I said, this is my observation, and I think the Chinese finding a way to stop being so anal retentive, to develop a more open mind to the bigger picture of things in their young children so that they don't carry this anal retentive train into their adulthoods would go a very long way towards helping further develop Chinese culture.