Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Eastern Me-ism culture

This is part of an e-mail sent to me from a friend who is visiting her relatives in Hong Kong and China. I thought this portion was particularly interesting. I received her permission to publish this.
It is sometimes frightening to consider the me-ism here in North America, always what I think, what I want to do, what I like, how I feel -- really "it's all about me". People in Asia comment on how individual we people are in North America, that we do not focus enough on community. Yet it is equally striking to pick out the me-ism characteristics in this comtemporary asian culture.

Here, I have noticed that the world is my garbage pit ( I can throw garbage anywhere because someone is bound to sweep it up); it is my spitbowl ( I can spit anywhere as I please irrespective of the sanitary conditions); it is my washroom (more so for the men and the kids). I have seen how unrelational this so-called community based society is. You put on a nice face when you see each other and then later speak ill behind their backs (because this is my mouth). If you have a little more money than others, you think you are deemed more "cultured" and can do whatever you please irrespective of consideration for others.

I cannot but help think that even though the western culture is very individualistic, we still have a sense of our responsibilty as a citizen, whether as a global citizen or local. We think for ourselves, but do we not also ask ourselves that how can we as an individual contribute to the betterment of our society, our environment, our country, our world, etc?

One incident really hit it home for me. My grandma and I went to this theme/ family/ nature park with my aunt (in China) and her two kids (4 years old boy and 6 years old girl). We found a bench to sit down and rest. My aunt offered me a bottle of drink and some crackers. I finished the drink and the crackers and as a "good citizen", I thought I will keep hold of my garbage until I see a garbage can. So I stuffed the wrappers and my tissue into the bottle so consolidate my garbage. The 4 year old cousin looks at me and says "How dare you!", grabs the bottle from me (because you can return it for money), takes the garbage out and throws the plastic wrapper and the used tissue in the bushes right infront of him. First instinct inside wanted to say "How dare you!" back to him for littering. But what is a 4 year old to know about not littering when his parents do that all the time?
That's something I really haven't thought of before.

1 comment:

  1. i guess it will always be human nature to think of one's self..