Author: Gayle

Cultural differences between China and America   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2017-2-14 02:39:17 |Display all floors
Thank you.  Diversification and diversity are positive values in America.  I have the impression that diversity is less valued in Asian countries.   Americans, being a diverse society, enjoy the sensation of being with a variety of different cultures.  Americans are often ignorant about other cultures, but they are curious and enjoy learning about the differences.  

Americans have a very valuable cultural trait: the ability to save face by laughing at your own mistakes.  Americans love to laugh at their own mistakes as much as they laugh at the mistakes of others.  In American culture, you can always save face by laughing at the situation and making others laugh.   Knowing this should make it easier to interact with Americans because you don't have to be afraid of making mistakes or losing face.  If you can laugh at mistakes and turn mistakes into jokes, that will make you popular among Americans.

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Post time 2017-2-14 03:51:29 |Display all floors
  1. Of course you know that you have vastly oversimplified things, correct?
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Yes of course, but discussion has to begin somewhere, does it not?

I grew up at a time when any direct communication between ordinary citizens of the PRC and of the USA was unthinkable.  Of course, during the Cold War, everything that was said about China in US media was bad bad bad.  

Now the internet makes it possible for citizens of the USA and the PRC to talk to each other.  

Of course everything we will say will be an oversimpliification, but it is a beginning.

When I was young, the idea that there could possibly be direct communication between ordinary Americans and ordinary Chinese was as remote as the idea that someday ordinary Americans could have conversations with ordinary people on Mars and Venus.  I was aware  that we were getting high filtered news about the Communist countries, and wished I could talk to people there.  All through my life I have wished there were ways that ordinary people could communicate while their governments were having problems. The invention of the internet made that come true.

Meantime, I don't know the accuracy of the impressions I received then, from reading about China.

When I read about Mao and the Cultural Revolution, the impression that I got was that it was intended to replace the old Confucian attitudes and help the Chinese people to feel more rebellious against authorities.  Was he successful?  I encounter very different opinions on that question, among different commentators.

There is no question that the USA is a culture with rebelliousness against authority woven into its basic personality.

This puts USA culture, in its extreme forms, at the opposite pole of Confucianism.  It would also make the American personality. which has no reverence for authority, into something threatening and bad.

I wondered what would happen if I put forth a picture that basically contrasts Confucian China with modern America.  What I was curious to know -- and am still curious to know, because I think that this forum could be a good place to conduct experiments and research in cross-cultural communication -- is whether the Chinese who responded to my post would sound as though they thought rebelliousness was a negative or positive quality.  If people responded as though rebelliousness was a positive quality, then that would mean that Mao had succeeded in changing the culture away from Confucianism.  If people felt that rebelliousness was a negative quality, that would mean that Confucianism had ultimately prevailed.

I am still interested in this subject -- the cultural attitudes toward rebelliousness that the Chinese have.  I am a retired teacher and have observed for years that rebelliousness and creativity go together.  Modern China (according to writers like Yong Zhao, who lives in the United States and writes books comparing US and Chinese educational policy) has realized that its educational system has stifled creativity and that this is a cost to the PRC.  USA education policy is moving closer and closer to Chinese education policy (more regimentation and teaching by scripts) which in my opinion is a mistake.  In the long run, creativity will be important for the future, in all countries.

I am grateful for the existence of this forum, and for the fact that the PRC government has given us a way that ordinary citizens from any country can have discussions with ordinary Chinese people about their opinions, so that we can build a better future together.  I believe that creating relationships among ordinary people of different countries is the best foundation for peace.


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Post time 2017-2-14 09:01:31 |Display all floors
Rebellion is never ever a quality.

Deviation from a norm need not be done via a rebellion. Deviation from a norm can be done with adequate explanation which will not cause rebellion. With due explanation it foments understanding hence a rebellion will not happen. Why can't human build and promote the EDUCATION OF UNDERSTANDING? Why build REBELLION? When others understand why someone wants to take a risk like going to a foreign land, rebellion doesn't occur. Without explanation, others don't understand the purpose hence they will attach the rebellion tag to it. When one doesn't take the trouble to explain, such a person is usually one that has lesser regards for other people's feelings. Such a person is more of "me" than "we". Psychologically "me", the individualistic attitude is definitely lighter but attitude wise more selfish, less responsible, favors self-enjoyment over self-sacrifice. In contrast the "we" psychology is the opposite.

Science can never be developed the rebellious way. Science can be developed only through comprehensive explanation of matters regardless of them being positive and negative. In short explanation means the attempt to lead others or oneself to understand better. A rebellious attitude will lead to emptiness within oneself eventually. Just imagine a family made up of a rebellious husband, a rebellious wife and rebellious child - what will happen?

To equate travelling away from home or one's comfort zone as a rebel quality is incorrect. The Chinese have since thousands of years ago been travelling all over the world for various reasons. So too the Indians. But both the Chinese and the Indian families do so with explanation of their purpose to their families and friends. They even got well wishing before embarking on dangerous trips. If they are successful, they will encourage their families and friends to follow, exhibiting the heavier "we" attitude. This is ADVENTURISM not rebellion, the real necessary quality.

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Post time 2017-2-14 10:50:28 |Display all floors
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