The Danger Of Losing One’s Culture


With the imposition or superimposition of culture in today’s society through globalisation, instant communication & exposure . . . nobody is isolated nor can anyone withstand the onslaught of western influence. The perils & thrills of modern life kill & spill all hope of preserving the sanity of life. The “iron curtain” has been torn down and now the “bamboo curtain” is fast disappearing!

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The Chinese society is essentially built around the family system & strong kinship ties. As a method of bonding, honour & respect for each respective individual, and also to distinguish each member of the family within the kinship hierarchy, respectful names are accorded. We do not address anyone by his or her own name. Plain address of “uncle” or “auntie” is not enough (although acceptable in modern time). To distinguish whether the relative is from the paternal or maternal side, we address an uncle from paternal side as “su su” and “chiu chiu” from the maternal.

Informality & friendliness must in no way interfere with the culture system, as to dispense with the question of respect when a son addresses his own father by his name or similarly with his father’s contemporary! This reflects badly on the family itself. Like I used to say, “Such a nice boy but badly brought up!”

All these respectful addresses keep everybody in his or her own respective places & status in life. By such addresses, the generation hierarchy is known straightaway. Even with outsiders & strangers, a person of good breeding will accord respectful address of titles by virtue of age differences & generation gaps.

We have inherited a civilisation of thousand & thousand of years old, steeped in rich culture & tradition, unsurpassed by any other in the world. The fact that this civilisation remains unbroken, undiminished & ever awakening, speaks well for itself & that the Chinese must be doing something right down through the ages. There just got to be a system by which asll things function. Can you imagine what chaos will there be if one planet in the universe decides to go on its own? They say that the chain is as strong as its weakest link.

The question of personal freedom can sometimes swing beyond the pendulum limit. Self-centredness & gross individualism have contributed much chaos. It is all a question of disregarding others. Egotism is spelt with the capital “I” and “you” is always spelt with a small “y”. When we start to care less for the other person & let self-centredness & gross individualism take over us, something is bound to break. Today’s social problems are undoubtedly attributed to such predominant thinking. We’re becoming impersonal, totally insensitive & lacking in the element of care. The story of the Good Samaritan no longer holds as much attention as the negative & sensational stories of murder, divorce or hot gossips. Nnnnnnn]].,bnmnnnnnnnnnnnnn.Just where is our world heading to? All the multi-media lend support to sensational & negative news – for such promotion is commercially profitable, as against good old positive news. Even politicians dependent upon on their constituent support for their political well-being are swayed & blown with the wind.

We no longer accept the simple truth of black & white. With the growing & dominant “grey” group, justification & rationalisation breed polarisation. Varieties of interest groups mushroom lending support to just about anybody. The saddest aspect for the nation is that political leaders, for want of political support & survival, prefer a low profile approach & not even taking a firm stand.

I may not be entirely correct in my rambling thoughts and would be most glad to hear from anyone who thinks otherwise or has anything more to add.

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Saturday, 12 September 2009

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