PureInsight | May 7, 2006
[PureInsight.org] Is it true
that Easterners can accidentally offend Westerners when clarifying the
truth? To look into this issue, we have to examine the differences in
culture. Western democratic oriented cultures hold individualistic
worldviews. These countries value individualism, self-determination,
personal achievement, accomplishment, upward and outward mobility, and
conquest. How does this differ from the culture of China? Eastern
cultures, including China, hold a very different worldview called
"collectivism." Collectivism values family unity, group coherence,
group efforts, parental respect, family loyalty, extended families,
belongingness, and adherence to righteousness within the group.
One is not better than another, simply different. It is good to believe
in oneself, and it is also good to care about your family or group. But
a problem comes up when a Westerner expects an Easterner to respond to
Western values with the same thinking and likewise when an Easterner
expects a Westerner to react with Eastern values. This causes a problem
in clarifying the truth. Since most Falun Dafa disciples are Chinese,
trying to clarify the truth to the Western world, this article focuses
on some pitfalls specific to the Chinese efforts.
A collectivist culture naturally holds "group" values at the top of the
list. Problems are solved in a collectivist way, which reflects
cultural values. Within the collectivist type of approach, if a member
of the group misbehaves, the group sanctions him with disapproval or
shunning. Since group harmony is everything in a collectivist society,
this is an effective internal means of controlling anyone who steps
outside of group norms. Jiang is one such individual, and the Chinese
response to his bad behavior is to use public opinion against him. This
approach works very well with Chinese people and can sway a Chinese
person to listen to you.
But this doesn't effectively work in America or other Western
countries. It can have the opposite effect. It makes a Westerner
quietly and internally mad to be approached by a Chinese disciple and
asked to "disapprove" of Jiang. The response is negative. The response
is, "We already disapprove of him. What do you want us to do, fight a
war for you?"
This is what Westerners are thinking, and many of them will say that flat out to you. Why such a negative response?
It is because the Western mentality is to "take action." Merely
disapproving of someone is a foreign concept to us. When a Chinese
person approaches a Westerner, they do not generally give them
something to "take action" with. The Westerner thinks only in terms of
action, achievement, and conquest. When he can't express that, he
reacts with a "guilt trip" because he feels helpless when he sees your
pictures and how bad you have it and then thinks about how good he has
it. And if he thinks, albeit falsely, that someone is trying to make
him responsible for them, then that also makes him feel guilty for
being better off. He assumes through his Western orientation that you
are asking him to take some sort of action and then jumps way to the
conclusion that you are asking him to take complete responsibility to
save your country. That is because that is what America does. We go
around saving everybody from all their awful predicaments as the
policemen of the world. So this makes the Westerner even madder. He
thinks, "Isn't it enough that we are fighting the Iraqi war?" "Go solve
your own problems!" "Why don't you go overthrow the guy if you don't
like him?" "We started a civil war to get our freedom from the British;
why don't you do the same?" "Why do we have to live your life for you?"
"People get tortured all over the world; you're not the only victims!"
"The world's a brutal place; what do you want ME to do about it!?"
And so the Westerner goes away silently mad at you, feeling like you
are just bothering him as some special interest group on the street. In
this case, the entire Falun Dafa purpose, to bring out his/her
compassion, is entirely missed. If the Westerner feels like you are
fighting for yourself and then
asking for his help, then he admires you. He will respond positively
towards you. He respects you because you are standing up for yourself.
Alternately, if you don't come across as wanting to fight for
yourselves, he will respond negatively towards you and even hold silent
contempt for you. But if you appear to be the "underdog" who is trying
his best, but who needs the assistance of a powerful big brother, then
the Westerner can't wait to help you. That is because doing something,
fighting back, believing in winning, in conquest of challenges or
problems is the Western value system.
What can be done? We can be aware of each other's cultures when we
clarify the truth. What we want is for the Westerner to feel compassion
for us and when he reaches out to Master in his heart, he can get
saved. We want to save him. That is our purpose. What does he want? He
wants to do something about
it. When the Westerner feels compassion, you have to give him a vehicle
to let it out, to let his compassion come forward. If he can feel like
he is fighting for what is right in some small way, then suddenly he
becomes very interested, feels right at home, experiences a feeling of
righteousness, and will probably get charged up over Jiang. If we are
going to provoke anger, we definitely want it to be focused on Jiang in
a healthy way and not on us in an unhealthy way. He will then think,
"Yeah! I'll sign that petition" or "I'll be happy to boycott labor camp
products. Do you have a list?" or "I'll be happy to pass this flyer to
someone today to expose this holocaust!" or "Do you have an email list
of government officials that care about this issue? I'll send off an
email for you." The Westerner wants to do something about it. This is
not us trying to get ordinary people to do something political. This is
offering an opportunity for ordinary people to let their compassion
come forward so that they, themselves, can remember compassion. When
they do that, they get saved.
When that Westerner signs his name to a petition, he is signing up for
Master Li, starting or resuming a predestined relationship. When he
agrees to boycott labor camp products or to email McDonalds, French
Connection, Adidas, or Nestle Products, etc., to ask them to stop
buying those products, his compassion and his forgotten commitment to Master Li come forward and both become stronger. He gets saved.
It is a good thing if we try to help people in different cultures to
respond positively towards Master Li by approaching them from within
the context of their own cultures and their own understandings. More
people will get saved this way.