Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chinese wisdom or Chinese fatalism?

On of my  friend came to China just a year ago. He was always enthousiastic about coming to China. But he told me China was not as a expected and that he was disappointed.
In fact he had this image of the Chinese wisdom.

What is this "Chinese wisdom cliché"?
In the west we have a cliché of wise Chinese men. I am not sure what it means exactly.
It implies probably that Chinese people keep control of themselves, don't get angry, live slowly with respect to each other. They don't look for money first but rather happiness, fulfilment. They are altruist... 

But my friend told me he found out here in China, many people are all about making more money. Actually money is core in Chinese people lives. Chinese people all want a car, an appartement,

I wonder, where does this wise Chinese person cliché comes from?

Jean Claude Van Damme?
It might come from some Van damme movie? But then again it is probably much deeper than this.

Old China was a different China?
It might be that the Chinese wisdom was lost as Chinese society changed the past decade? 
China adopted the western growth model: people compete to be the first. While in the past there were many wise men as China followed Confucius teaching?
But then again money was always core to Chinese society even in the past.
Still in China people respect someone who can keep control of himself. When challenged, the one who loses control first loses face. A good leader for Chinese people is someone who keeps control of himself.

No Chinese wisdom but fatalism, acceptance.
There has never been a "Chinese wisdom" but rather some fatalism.
I personnaly believe that this "Chinese wisdom" cliché is all a misinterpretation from us foreigners.

Living in China, you notice that people don't easily lose patience or get angry. But when they do they can get really angry.
In fact you can see this from the video when I jump queue in China. Chinese people keep a cool head and don't get angry. While in the west someone would probably shout at me and get really angry at me!
In fact this is not really wisdom but fatalism, resignation, acceptance.

Why is there this Chinese people acceptance?
China is a huge country. There are many people everywhere. It is noisy. It is sometimes packed... And there are so many things you can not fight, you can not change. Living some time in China you will resign yourself on "small matters". You can not always fight for everything.
This is how people who stay in China long will feel. They will stop noticing or reacting for "small matters". They will stay out of trouble.

I guess this is how many Chinese people feel:
At university I noticed many students are resignated. 
For instance, they know, that they will get their degrees so many won't study to learn something but rather to pass some exam.
Or again, they get their university degree for the sake of it, but not really to work abroad and even though their major is English. In a air hostess private school most of the students will never actually work as air hostess!
Also students and Chinese people often complain as part of this acceptance process!

In companies, employees lack motivation.
They do what they are ask to do and nothing else. They don't take any initiative. They don't do extra tasks if not asked. They know that no matter what the salary will be the same. And even if they stand out and do more, they meight get into trouble! Others might be jealous...

In fact acceptance has a lot to do with education.
From the younger age, Chinese children are made to learn by heart, repeat, perfom, sing, dance. There is little done to develop creative thinking, debate pros and cons, find creative solutions...
But this is changing quickly of course. While education doesn't focus on creativity it will focus on artistic expression (for instance with performance...).

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