Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Soul of a Citizen

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).

In his book Soul of a Citizen, Paul Rogat Loeb, points out that many developmental psychologists believe individual growth is possible only through the interaction with the human and natural world, and through experiences that challenge us. A number of Chinese philosophers suggest an alternative. The state of Wu Shin (or Mu Shin no Shin) is a state of natural thinking without the presence of ego. More literally, no-mindedness. This concept is paired with Wu Wei, a sort of instinctual action. Bruce Lee was an avid follower of these ancient concepts. Essentially, Wu Shin suggests an ability to improve yourself without anything or the presence of higher thought commanding you to. To understand this better I suggest reading passages by Bruce Lee.

Another example that pits psychology against Chinese philosophy: M. Scott Peck says spiritual healing is “an ongoing process of becoming increasingly conscious.” Ancient Chinese philosophy tends to put more emphasis on simplicity. Again, the concepts of Wu Shin and Wu Wei are important in this way of thinking. Also, the idea of Yin and Yang —a sort of oneness of the world. The most famous of these philosophers is of course Confucius (Kongzi). Others include one of the followers of his ideals, Mencius (Mengzi).