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oranges111 Post time: 2018-9-27 18:38
So what does it mean to be Chinese?
My grandparents were Chinese, but they certainly don't act li ...
Please see if this meets with your need to understand:
When I was a kid, I used to hear people comment positively on the vitality and beauty (yiu-mei) of Chinese civilization. I thought the comment was interesting but probably akin to praising one's own 'bright' children -- but of course, doesn't everyone say that about his/her OWN culture or civilization?
As I grew older, traveled the world and lived in three continents, it began to dawn on me that this is not the case at all.
Chinese civilization is indeed beautiful precisely because it absorbs and gives due credit to excellence of other civilizations without jingoiistic concerns. By adapting and modifying the good points of other cultures without prejudice, it has grown increasingly attractive over the millennia.
For example, the musical instrument Er Hu was introduced from countries further west on the Silk Road and everyone in China learns that as part of their school curriculum.
Unfortunately, I have found that this cannot be said of Western civilization. Not only does the West not want to shed its facade of supercilious pretenses based on its racist colonial past, it does not give credit even where credit is evidently due.
For example, even today you will find few popular works (except those written by a few professional historians) acknowledging that movable- type printing was invented by Pi Sheng in Northern Sung Dynasty. For reference to that epochal invention, they always hark back to Johann Gutenberg and the first Bible. It's as if I had built the first Chinese computer and found it appropriate to lay claim to being the inventor of the computer itself.
Furthermore, there are even books written today saying that paper was invented by the Egyptians and that the word papyrus is proof that this was the case.
Many Westerners have never heard of Cai Lun of East Han Dynasty, who invented the first real paper (known as Cai Hou Zi or Count Cai's Paper) in 105 A.D and presented it to Emperor Han He Di. Others are even contesting the authenticity of the first gunpowder, rockets and even the first compass of Chinese origin.
I believe that such non-recognition actually stems from basic insecurity and fear that if the truth comes out, the West would look not so superior in material advancement over the centuries, as their school texts have touted all this time in their entire educational experience.
The basic reason why the Chinese people find it easy to give credit where it is due is because of the secular nature of Chinese civilization. It is not for communist or nationalist or whatever creed-derived reasons that they are not miserly in their praise of other cultures.
It is the Chinese civilization itself that is so instrumental in bringing about this policy of proper decorum towards all nations. Devoid of political influence of monotheistic institutions, it does not have to defend itself against merits of religion-based alien cultures. When the American Congress uses the FLG to destabilize Chinese society, it finds few buyers in the Chinese nation because people understand what an evil cult is like and that there is no lack of religious freedom in China.
On the other hand, it is precisely the West that as a whole does not lend itself to religious freedom.
There are so few Islamic mosques and Confucian temples in the West, compared with the number of Christian churches in East Asian nations, that one can actually say that religious freedom as touted by the West is a one-way street for cultural invasion. There are no other non-economic reasons for this phenomenon.
As an extension of the above argument, I would point out that the genuine friendliness of the Chinese people is the corollary of this unique quality of self-assurance and non-alienation. It is interesting to note in passing that many people, including expatriates, told me that for some reason they don't feel lonely in China, as they do living in America. Wherever you go in China, the people there will try to make you feel at home.
They don't do this out of expediency, but simply because they want to. This of course has to do with Confucianism, which is a philosophy essentially teaching people how to treat one another living in crowded places with limited natural resources such as irrigation water and arable land.
As modernization sets in, it is easy to lose this human touch. It behooves everyone of us to make sure that our government's policies are conducive to sustaining this unique quality in our society. Overly materialist societies are seldom sustainable in the long run. Prosperity without equitable concern for Mankind as a whole is like paint on a mosaic -- when rain comes it will all be washed away.