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I've been living with and been a part of Chinese culture for 15 years now. I have seen a lot of things and understand a lot about the culture that i previously did not understand.|
In the west, we talk about the Cultural Revolution and how bad it was for China, how it literally destroyed the country, and destroyed the minds of the people. We always look at the Cultural Revolution as the major change in the country that destroyed everything. But recently, after watching for many years the strange, curious and bizarre habits of my wifes parents and trying to understand why they do what they do, I've come to realise that the Cultural Revolution was not in fact the worst event in their lives, it was the Great Leap Forward. Allow me to explain my reasons for thinking this.
I believe that yes, the Cultural Revolution did destroy the country, but the GReat Leap Forward has had a more lasting effect that still lives on in the minds of my wifes parents. The country is recovering, China is building, the culture of China is returning again (it's not quite there yet, but its happening fast) so the Cultural REvolution, whilst doing probably the worst damage at the time, and one of the worst events in human history, is now recovring, and the people (my wifes parents generation) who suffered through it are now recovering from this event in their lives.
What I believe they have not recovered from however, and will never recover from, is what they went through before this event, that is the Great Leap Forward. I used to think all the strange and bizarre habits and ridiculous pointless petty daily routines they go through every day was because of what happened to their minds as a result of suffering through the Cultural Revolution, how it did something to them, but in the last couple of years I realise that it's not completely it, it was the Great Leap Forward where the fear of actual death from starvation and the survival instincts of humans took over their minds.
That's what did it to their generation, that's what screwed over their minds, the starvation, the hunger, the fear of death as millions were dying. That's what flicked the switch, turned their minds off, shut their brains down, they went into pure survival mode, animal instincts, like starving animals. It happened again in the Cultuaral Revolution but they have since recovered from this, but they haven't recovered from the Great Leap Forward. That was the game changer for them, the fear of death. They literally became like animals.
I finally understand it now, that explains their obsessive petty habits that completely control their daily lives. Their eating routines, their craziness during eating time, the way they eat, the things that they eat. The way they eat so quickly and encourage each other to eat so quickly, how they say "have you eaten" instead of "hello". How their entire lives is based around the next meal time, it is literally the only thing that matters, everything else in the day is just filling in time, nothing else is of any meaning or importance than the next meal time. How they will peel the skin of nuts for hours on end, skin grapes for hours on end, tasks that no other coutry or person would bother doing or spend mindless hours wasting their time on. It used to drive me mad with insane boredom just watching them, let alone having to do it myself. I used to wonder what was going on in their minds how they could literally sit for hours on end performing such boring waste of time exercises. Now I get it. When you saw the face of death from having no food, when you were reduced to your lowest instinct, your animal instinct, it does something to human beings. And that is what their generation suffered through.
Watching them eat is scary, it really is, I have to back away and go to another room, I literally can't be in the same room, the noises, the speed, like wolves at a carcass, vultures, head down over the food. Their eyes glaze over, and they literally go into a hypnotic state, a trance, World War 3 could have started outside of the house and they would have no idea. They go into an animal state, I'm not kidding, I'm not exagerrating, they literally do go into an animal state. They are like animals when they eat. And this is from what they went through in the Great Leap Forward.
They'll take an everyday roast chicken from a supermarket, and they'll strip it to nothing. They will sit their for 1 hour, maybe even 2 hours (again no exagerration) and crunch and suck every single bone, making some incredible sounds along the way, all the while in a hypnotic trance, I could be dancing around naked right next to them and they wouldn't notice. When they finishh there is nothing left but an absolute skeletioni, not a single ounce of meat, not even the tiniest atom of meat is left. Like pirannas. It's incredible. It's like cavemen, early man and their survival instincts, coming out of a cave and just trying to survive every day. That's what the Great Leap Forward did, reduced this generation of people to cavemen just operating on survival instincts. I mean, we dig up fossils of early man from 100 thousand years ago where there is evidence of a meal because you can see the scrape marks on the bones, that's what the Chinese of my parents generation are doing today! They've gone back to caveman survival instincts and it has screwed up their brains permanently, more than the Cultural Revolution. Then they'll boil the bones in soup and drink it like it's something that has been sent down from the gods!! It's boiled bones in soup! Even prisoners in concentraition camps in Russia in World War 2 would have been fed a better meal! But it's heaven for them, they go into their hypnotic animal instinct trance again.
Anyway, I could go on and on and give 1000 more examples that I have witnessed over the last 15 years, examples that used to leave me shaking my head and so confused, sometimes scared out of my pants like I was watching animals and not humans, but now I have come to understand why they do this, and why they are why they are.
This is why I believe that whilst the Cultural Revolution did more physical damage and harm to the country, it was in fact the Great Leap Forward that did the most damage to the minds of the people, and most of them will never recover, making the tasks of the single children all over China who are now starting to have to care for them as they grow into old age, even harder