The Value of Virtue in Chinese Culture – Part 2 of 2

May 17, 2017

My life didn’t start when I became eligible for Social Security and/or Medicare. In fact, I worked for forty-five years starting at fifteen washing dishes and ended a thirty-year career at sixty as an overworked and underpaid, ‘often verbally abused’ teacher in California’s public schools.

I am a former U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam. After the Marines I went to college on the GI Bill and spent close to a decade attending universities to earn an Associate-of-Science degree, a BA in journalism, and finally an MFA in writing. I even worked as a public school teacher for thirty of those years often working 60 – 100 hours a week sometimes arriving at the school where I taught as early as six in the morning.  In addition, in China teachers are respected; not abused.

Confucius ( BC 551 – 479) said, “The reason why the gentleman teaches filial piety is not because it is to be seen in the home and everyday life. He teaches filial piety in order that man may respect all those who are fathers in the world. … He teaches brotherliness in the younger brother, in order that man may respect all those who are elder brothers in the world. He teaches the duty of the subject, in order that man may respect all who are rulers in the world.”

Both Taoism (also known as Daoism) and Confucianism stress the importance of paying proper respect to elders, especially parents and grandparents, and deceased ancestors are honored with various ceremonies and rituals.

Confucius said, “Those who love their parents dare not show hatred to others. Those who respect their parents dare not show rudeness to others.”

However, in the United States, it is obvious that we have spawned more than one generation of narcissists, and a malignant narcissist, Donald Trump, was recently elected president of the United States. Trump treats many with rudeness and he encourages and supports bullies and racism.

More than twenty-four hundred years ago, Confucius dedicated his life to the moral training of his culture. He lived during the Warring States period before China was unified. Living with all of that violence and death, he dreamed of a land where people could live happily and harmoniously together.

Only in this sense can one understand the tremendous virtue placed on filial piety, which is regarded as the ‘first of all virtues’ not only in China but also many other Asian countries.

I’m not saying what Confucius taught was perfect, but those lessons have served China well for centuries and is still a vital element of Chinese culture.

Return to or Start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Value of Virtue in Chinese Culture – Part 1 of 2

May 16, 2017

I was born in the United States, and when I was a child, youngsters were taught to be seen and not heard. It was expected that we treat our elders and teachers with respect.

After the birth of Disneyland, instant and unhealthy fast food thanks to McDonalds, the Internet, smart phones (I turned mine in for a dumb phone) and the iPod generation, a cultural cancer crept through much of the United States. That cultural cancer killed ‘respect’ for those who are older and for teachers.

In China, that respect, that virtue, is called piety, and piety is very much alive there and in most of East Asia in spite of an invasion of Christian missionaries due to the Opium Wars in the early 19th century, the Korean War (1950 – 1953), the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975), and Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966  – 1976) .

In 1999, I married a Chinese woman who was born in Shanghai, China. She grew up during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. I learned that if you marry a Chinese woman, you marry her family and are expected to treat the family’s elders with respect. That’s when I learned first-hand the importance of filial piety in China.

In fact, when I visit China, my white hair is a symbol that earned me respect. In China, I have never heard, “Hey, old man,” but these are disrespectful words I’ve heard in the United States more than once.

For instance (from an actual event), “Hey, old man, you can’t stop us.” Those were the words I heard after dark one night during the summer of 2008 from a pack of kids taunting me as they raced in and out of our steep, hillside driveway on their bicycles. The reason I didn’t want them playing on our driveway was because if one of those children was injured, we could end up in court.

I called the police, and the next day walked the neighborhood door-to-door asking for support to stop the harassment that had gone on for two years during school holidays and the summer.

When I talked to the mother of one of those rude children, she challenged me. “What was your reason for not letting them play on your driveway?”

I’ve read ‘any damn fool can be a parent’, and that helped me think of something I heard too many times when I was a public school teacher (1975 – 2005).  That phrase is, “kids will be kids” and it is often accompanied with a shrug of dismissal by the parent/guardian, but I refuse to accept that excuse for rudeness and unruly behavior in children.

Continue with Part 2 on May 17, 2017

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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There are more Men than Women in China and Money Counts

April 19, 2017

China Has Too Many Bachelors reports, “Forty-one million bachelors do not have women to marry. If nothing is done to change this trend, by 2020 there will be 55-million extra men in China.”

Since there is a growing shortage of women in China, men have to compete.  The winner is usually the one who earns the most. Danwei (Chinese media) posted a letter from a university student who was attracted to a beautiful girl in one of his classes, but he has nothing to offer and is ready to give up before asking her out for a first date.

Danwei says, “There’s a different kind of meat market in China. Female mate shoppers check out not only a man’s looks, humor and signs that he’ll treat her well. They also look for a bit of beef, as in where’s-the-beef. That means a man’s potential to earn money.”

Even if a girl likes a guy, the parents are going to get involved at some point to make sure the man earns enough to provide for their daughter. If the parents are against the marriage, for any reason, the odds are it will not take place even if the man has money.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Why aren’t we all the same? Part 5 of 5

March 18, 2017

Individuals in a collectivist culture tend to view themselves as members of groups (families, work units, tribes, nations), and usually considers the needs of the group to be more important than the needs of an individual.

Most Asian cultures, including China, tend to be collectivist.

Another example between individualism and collectivism is Piety (respect for elders). In the West, evidence suggests that the young are being spoiled to the point where many Western children are rude to elders expecting them to be invisible and silent, while in China that same behavior is often the reverse—at least it was before Western fast food and consumerism appeared in China.

In China, when there is a conflict of interest between individuals and the collective, individuals are expected to sacrifice their own benefits for the sake of the collective well-being.

On the other hand, an individualist culture is one in which people tend to view themselves as individuals and to emphasize the needs of the individual over the well being of the group. Source: Travel China Guide – a discussion about individualist and Collectivist Cultures

Are there exceptions?  Of course, but those exceptions seldom represent the average or the majority.

Return to Part 4 or Start with  Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Why aren’t we all the same? Part 4 of 5

March 17, 2017

The Research Digest Blog asks, “Are children from collectivist cultures more likely to say it’s okay to lie for the group?”

The theory says that yes, they might say it’s okay to lie for your team than children from individualistic cultures, such as the US, which places more value on self-interest.

The surprising finding was that children from China actually found lying to protect one’s team less acceptable than children in the US did.

“This is not to suggest that Chinese children were acting in an individualistic manner,” the researchers said, “but rather that they were acting based on what they believed to be a more salient moral aspect of the situation.” Source: Research Digest Blog

Collective cooperation may explain why China has a long history of innovation.

After all, the Chinese invented the compass, paper, the printing press, gunpowder, the multistage rocket and much more.  Source: The Growing Gap Between the US and China

In addition, I read in the September/October 2012 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine that the Chinese are doing it again. for example: inventing a modular method to build energy-efficient skyscrapers —China plans to use this innovative method to built the world’s tallest building (220-stories) in ninety days compared to the current tallest building in Dubai that is 160 stories tall and took six years to build. Other innovations China is developing is the straddling bus in addition to safer, cleaner nuclear energy.

Continued on March 18 in Part 5 or go back to Part 3

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Why aren’t we all the same? Part 3 of 5

March 16, 2017

When I wrote why China is studying Singapore, my goal was to show Westerners why China couldn’t model itself after an individualistic culture such as the United States, because copying the United States wouldn’t fit China’s culture.

Even Dr. Sun Yat-Sen – China’s Democratic Revolutionary, said any democracy in China would have to fit China’s culture saying, “An individual should not have too much freedom. A nation should have absolute freedom.”

Individualism promotes individual goals and encourages each person to express him or herself freely.  Each person is encouraged to be unique. Rules and laws attempt to ensure independence, choices, and freedom of speech. Relying or being dependent on others is often seen as shameful, and people are encouraged to do things on their own, to rely on themselves. Source: Psychology – Collectivist and Individualist Cultures

However, James Surowiecki says, “We once accused the Japanese of being copycats and now we turn on the Chinese. But the truth is that we have all become imitators. … In many situations, collective decisions are better than individual ones.” Source: Co-Society.com

Continued on March 17 in Part 4 or go back to Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Why aren’t we all the same? Part 2 of 5

March 15, 2017

Even in individualist countries, we find collectivism at work. In business, the collective society is often seen in corporate structure.

New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki says, “Under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.”

An example used by Surowiecki shows that “the TV studio audience of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire guesses correctly 92 percent of the time, compared to ‘experts’ who guess only 65 percent correctly.” Source: Co-Society.com

What Surowiecki says explains why China’s top few-hundred officials use the “Red Machine”, an encrypted communication system, for making quick collective decisions.

In The Collective Will, I mentioned the author of a Wall Street Journal piece as an example of how most people in the West have trouble understanding what goes on in China.

Most Chinese understand their government’s  actions and decisions even if a Westerner from an individualist culture doesn’t.

Some Chinese may not like it. Others may not agree with it.

However, Westerners are not always happy with their governments. Just look at Donald Trump in the United States to understand what this means.

Continued on March 16 in Part 3 or Start with  Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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