The following article, purportedly written by a certain Dr Chan-Lui Lee of Australia, has popped up in my WhatsApp reads many times.
The subject is “Being Chinese” – Dr Lee’s concept of the simple plain truth about the Chinese. The following is his take:
“Chinese people don't go about bombing, terrorizing others and causing religious hatred. We live peacefully with everyone on Earth.
“Here is the plain truth.
“#1. There are over 1 billion of us on this earth. We are like photostat copies of each other. You get rid of one, 5 magically appears (like ballot boxes). Yes, it is scary, especially for us. We acknowledge that we are replaceable, thus we are not particularly 'special'. If you think you are smart, there are a few thousand more people smarter than you. If you think you are strong, there are a few thousand people stronger than you.
“#2. We have been crawling all over this earth for far more centuries that most civilizations. Our DNA is designed for survival. We are like cockroaches. Put us anywhere on earth and we will make a colony and thrive. We survive on anything around us and make the best of it. Some keep migrating but others will stay and multiply.
“#3. NOBODY cares if we succeed as individuals or not. But our families take pride in knowing we have succeeded. Yes, some will fail. We take nothing for granted. We don't expect privileges to fall on our laps. No one owes us anything.
“#4. We know we have nothing to lose if we try to succeed. Thus, we have no fear trying. That is why Chinese are addicted to gambling. We thrive on taking risks. All or nothing.
“#5. From young we are taught to count every cent. What we take for granted like money management, I have found out recently, is not something other cultures practice at home with their children. It surprised me. But truth is not all societies or cultures teach their young this set of skills because it is rude to them. Yes, most of us can count because we are forced to and the logic of money is pounded into us from the beginning of time (when mama tells us how much she has spent on our milk and diapers)
“#6. We acknowledge life cycles. We accept that wealth in a family stays for three generations (urban myth?). Thus, every 4th generation will have to work from scratch. I.e. first generation earns the money from scratch, second generation spends the money on education, third generation gets spoiled and wastes all the inheritance. Then we are back to square one. Some families hang on to their wealth a little longer than most.
“#7. It is our culture to push our next generation to do better than the last. Be smarter. Be stronger. Be faster. Be more righteous. Be more pious. Be more innovative. Be more creative. Be richer. Be everything that you can be in this lifetime.
“#8. Our society judges us by our achievements... and we have no choice but to do something worthwhile because Chinese New Year comes around every year and Chinese relatives have no qualms about asking you straight in your face - how much are you making? When was your last promotion? How big is your office? What car do you drive? Where do you stay? You have boyfriend? You have girlfriend? When are you getting married? When are you having children? When is the next child? When you getting a boy? Got maid yet? Does your company send you overseas? etc etc etc. It NEVER ENDS... so, we can't stop chasing the illusive train - we are damned to a materialistic society. If you are not Chinese, consider yourself lucky!
“#9. We have been taught from young that if you have two hands, two feet, two eyes, and a mouth, what are you doing with it? "People with no hands can do better than you !"
“#10. Ironically, the Chinese also believe in giving back to save their wretched materialistic souls. Balance is needed. The more their children succeed in life, the more our parents will give back to society as gratitude for the good fortune bestowed on their children. Yes. That is true. And that is why our society progresses forward in all conditions.
“Nobody pities us.
We accept that.
“No one owes us anything.
We know that.
“There are too many of us for charity to reach all of us.
We acknowledge that.
But that does not stop us from making a better life.
“Opportunity is as we make of it.
So, pardon us if we feel obliged to make a better place for ourselves in this country we call home.
It is in our DNA to progress forward for a more comfortable life.
“But if history were to be our teacher, look around this globe.
“Every country has a Chinatown (seriously) but how many government/countries are 'taken' over by the Chinese people.
“Don't be afraid of us overwhelming your majority, we are not looking to conquer.
If we have moved away from China and Chinese governed countries, we are NOT looking for another country to administer.
Our representatives are only there to look after our collective welfare. They are duty bound.
We prefer to blend in and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
We enjoy the company of like minded people of all races.
After all, we are only passing through a small period in the history of time... so, use our skills and we can all progress forward together.”
I am not sure if what I have reproduced above is truly verbatim.
As an ethnic Chinese, I do take comfort in what Dr Lee has said. But I certainly do not our future generations to continue to behave or be seen like cockroaches!
Traditionally, 孝悌忠信礼义廉耻 [xiàotì zhōngxìn lǐyìliánchǐ - the Confucian thinking of filial piety, brotherly love, loyalty, truthfulness, propriety, righteousness, integrity and shamefulness] has always been the pillar of Chinese concept of virtuous conduct. My humble opinion is that we will remain cockroaches if we stick to these virtues alone. To me, it is time for us to adopt a new mindset, i.e., 改善[gǎishàn - continuous improvement] and 创新 [chuàngxīn - innovative-ness]. They should now reign supreme in our culture.
No less important are 择 [zé - tastefulness in selections], 整洁, 序 [zhěngjié, xù - orderliness, cleanliness and systematic-ness], and 悄 [Qiāo – “not so loud, please”] which will go a long way in making ourselves less cockroach-like. (Pardon my Chinese!)
Without them, we can never catch up with, let alone surpass, the Germans or the Japanese. At best, ours can only remain a mediocre civilization!