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Tag Archives: japan

I picked up an intriguing book while browsing Barnes & Nobles entitled Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Tells us About Living in the West. Recently I have found myself addicted to Chinese philosophy and so the name of Confucius drew my attention. Then I read the back. It is a book about living in East Asia mostly from the perspective of living in Japan. Yes, Japan is in East Asia, but Confucius was not Japanese so the title was misleading. Okay, that’s fine, the book the still seems like it might be a good read. However, using Japan to generalize the lifestyle of East Asia is like using Germany to generalize the lifestyle of Western Europe. There are many similiarities to the way they think and conduct everyday life amongst the different countries, but also many, many differences. Perhaps the book should be entitled A Samurai Lives Next Door because Japanese thought is far more influenced by Samurai customs than by Confucius (or Kongzi). A most important difference between the most identifiable nations in East Asia, Japan and China, is that Japan has been much more influenced by western customs than has China. This is very significant when an author tries to write about a region. Perhaps the book is good, and perhaps the author does take these ideas into account – I have yet to read the book and may soon do so.

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Is it okay to love another country?  In the United States, Patriotism is held as one of the most important values, and I do care deeply for my country. However, my experience living in Germany for three years and making friends with people from many other countries has lead me to a different point-of-view than the blind patriotism that prevails. I find it hard to dislike, let alone not care about a country that is the home of a friend. Maybe I would disagree with the way the government functions, or certain lifestyles that the people might adopt, but those apply to the United States as well. Then the argument that the U.S. adopts is that its freedom makes it worthy of the patriotism. But isn’t the love of a country an important basis for the willingness to improve that country? Of course it is not possible to actually love a country where one has never been, but there are a growing number of countries that I want to U.S. to have good relationships with; not just for the sake of the United States but for the sake of that country too.