So it is the festivities and a good time when family and friends gather to celebrate. As I strike a conversation with visitors, I can somehow gauge their mentality and thoughts. The greatest turn off for me during this time of the year is how one tries to out do another in terms of “achievements”. Sometimes certain people can be so full of themselves. Today, my attention was drawn to this 16 year old teenager who I meet every year. When he was younger, he has so much confidence in him, always eager to learn while he strike a conversation with the elders in the family. Today it was different as he was silent throughout the visit and almost look drained/lifeless. Nothing seemed to interest him.
On the other hand, his father was talking non-stop and most of what he talk about was to impress his audience. The best part is, most of what he said did not make sense to me at all.
The way I look at it, there is just too much inferiority at play here. The comparing trait is deep rooted in a certain race, Chinese in particular. The “FACE” is the most important asset for a Chinese most of the time. If your child does not do better than another, you loose 50% of your face so to speak. Being in a typical Chinese family, you practically live under the “requirements” of the elders. You are doomed with guilt if you are unable to fulfill your parents’ wishes. I believe this is the case for this young boy who have so much ahead of him but seemed uninterested in his future due to the immediate requirements right in front of him. Perhaps he has been pressured to excel in school and studies.
There is much indoctrination in a typical Chinese family. I see a vast difference in between the western and eastern culture. The eastern culture is what I like to call the #1 culture. You must WIN at all cost, you must know EVERYTHING at all cost and anything less, you are just STUPID!
The typical western family has a way of encouraging and look at the good in a child. The child gets a lot of encouragement in what he/she is good at and his/her talent is further nurtured.
It is a very different situation in the eastern world, you start being worth zero and you prove yourself a little at a time. A slight mistake will send you straight down to ZERO again just like the snake and ladder game. The eastern culture is very unforgiving so to speak. Perhaps I am exaggerating but I believe there is some truth in it.
I tend to believe that the single method of education is a sure fail method as well. I believe a school is just a place our children will learn how to obey rules, do the same as any other kid and also, just to socialize with other kids his/her age. Other than that, you just have to race to the TOP!
What sort of culture are we really cultivating in our future generation I wonder? We put our children down so much (always thinking it is for their own good) and for them to grow up discovering that they lack nothing but AFFIRMATION. Most of the time it is too late. I actually found out that I yearn for affirmation when I was in my late 20s. HOW UNFAIR!
The western culture thrive on affirmation. Children are told that they are good at what they are doing and in that, they are able to expand their creativity and reach their fullest potential.
On the other hand, I believe that the desire to win is in both the culture but the difference is, how each culture handle failure.
The eastern culture normally take failure as a “Death Sentence”. Failing would mean that one is useless and his/her future is bleak. The western culture on the other hand take failure as a “Stepping Stone” to success. They learn from the mistake and improve on their past failures to attain success. It is also build into them that it is perfectly fine to fail in this imperfect world!
So what do we want in life? Are we merely existing to accommodate and be compliant or are we living a life in our fullest potential?