There has been much noise made about cultural differences between East and West. I keep going back to this theme not only to explore the external world around me, but also to better understand myself, which has both sides constantly competing for my attention like an angel and a devil sitting on my shoulders.
My latest insight came from reading Malcome Gladwells book “The Tipping Point”. According to the book, children from well to do family learn from a very young age to question authority, to speak up for themselves, for what they want, to be persistent in their demands when they encounter rejections, and most importantly, to develop a sense of entitlement for making their own choices in life.
From my own observation of different layers of society in the USA, I have to agree with Mr. Gladwell’s assessment. However, this is not the case with all the families raised in middle and upper social level of western culture. Many Asian families still practice a culture where youth yield to the wishes of elders, women yield to the wishes of men, children yield to the wishes of parents. Although western idea of independent will does weigh more with each suceeding “Americanized” generation, Asian Americans and Asian Europeans are more inclined than their White counterparts to yield to the wishes of others in order to keep peace or to please others. They are more willing to sacrifice their own pleasure or ambition to maintain social status quo.
This is a cultural habit that is deeply ingrained into every Asian person, whether he values or rejects his/her Asian heritage and identity. Sometimes, the more an Asian person reject his/her Asian identity, the more internal conflict he/she battles internally.
It this social appeasement behavior a weakness? In my opinion, It is a weakness if this person lives in western society. Western society does not value appeasement as much as the John Wayne type of man that is ready to take up arms to defend his interests. However, if this mentality is practiced without proper discretion in Asian countries, this person will very quickly find he/she ostracized from general society.
If anyone has a similar or different opinions, please share them with me.