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Tag Archives: people’s republic of china

People of the United States and likely elsewhere across the world put shame upon the People’s Republic of China when it was discovered the young girl who appeared to be singing for the opening ceremony had only been lip syncing. The girl who was actually singing had been deemed not beautiful enough to represent the country. One became a heroine, the other became a “role model” for proper Chinese conduct. A similar shame should be relinquished to the United States. Students in China may sometimes blindly praise Mao Zedong (River Town by Peter Hessler), but in the U.S. students are taught to blindly believe in the goodness of past presidents. George Washington went from “chopping down a cherry tree” to perfect leader. There are other examples of false perceptions in the U.S. as well. Martin Luther King Jr. is appraised qualities of sainthood by the education system. Indeed his feats were great, but he also struggled at times too. In fact, the NAACP felt so strongly about perceptions that it determined who the heroine of the Civil Rights movement would be. Before Rosa Parks took a stand (or more literally, a seat) against racism, another woman took a similar action. The NAACP considered a legal challenge, but one problem arose: the woman was unmarried and pregnant (Soul of a Citizen by Paul Rogat Loeb).

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It is only mere assumption to classify Confucius (Kongzi)¬†as a supporter of free-markets, socialism, or other economic foundations. However, Kongzi clearly recognized the inequality of different materials. He stated how something made of silk material inherently has a different worth than the same thing made of another material. This is a strong basis of the free-market/Capitalism system. But there is another side to the coin. Kongzi also promoted ideals of oneness. According to my readings (Books such as River Town by Peter Hessler), many citizens believe that by working hard for China they are in fact working hard for themselves — a result of the ideal of oneness. This is a basis of Socialism and Communism.

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.