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

Change

Change (By Paul Chong)

To grow to progress is to change

Both health & wealth will be your gain.

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Change, the keynote word of Obama, saw the transformation of him from obscurity to the stage of respectability. Change is inevitable as one journeys through life. People of courage are constantly looking for change. In most cases people change because of circumstances reflecting enforcement without the freedom of choice. Most people generally just drift along without exercising any self-will or control.

What is advocated is exactly the reverse . . . acting rather than reacting. A boat or ship that does not venture far from shore never gets anywhere. It just got to brave the waves and storm, for nothing ventured nothing gained. You’ve got to pay the price for things unforeseen when changes are made. Human beings have that innate fear of facing the unknown. Consequently, only the brave of hearts will tread in places where even angels fear. Hence, there are more followers than heroes.

Let not circumstances rule your life. Be prepared to take risks and take charge of the circumstances. Do whatever you can. Tackle all possibilities and leave the impossibilities to God. We say let go & let God. Here’s a small piece of poetic message with magnificent power & meaning:

As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to mend,

I brought my broken dreams to God, because He was my friend.

But then, instead of leaving Him in peace, to work alone, I hung

around and tried to help, with ways that were my own.

Alas! I snatched them back and cried “How can you be so slow?”

“My child,” He said, “what could I do?”

YOU NEVER DID LET GO

God does endow us with gifts of courage, but sadly enough it’s one of those things that the average man lacks or afraid to pluck upon it. God won’t let you down. He’ll see you through.

Change is refreshing, kind of rejuvenating & exhilarating. It gives you a brand new prospective in life and sets you on the road to success. As captain of your ship you steer your way through the storm. New horizon zooms ahead as you strive for it.

Courage is that precious little ingredient that is necessary for change. Sentimentality must give way to progress. Likewise, there’s no room for inhibitions. Someone once said, “I’ll rather die on my feet than live on my knees.”

Change is an inevitable process with the passage of time. Nothing stands still. Everything is in a state of flux. Time changes things – here today gone tomorrow. This natural phenomenon happens with individuals, political leaders, countries, as with your status, power, wealth & influence. The mighty can fall – the weak can rise. The journey begins, the journey ends . . . savour the moments & happenings along the way, for the end is just the beginning of another stage or level. Such is the nature of things rendering it difficult for anyone to envisage the outcome. Be the change you wish to see in the world . . . Gandhi.

Since the lifting of the Bamboo Curtains, China has undergone tremendous changes. It is a dynamic country beyond all recognition – all in a matter of a short span of thirty years.

The question is what will the world be like in 5 or 50 years from now. Who can say? Your guess is as good as mine.

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent