Thursday, February 18, 2010

About Values /Ju Bin Translation by Kai Chen 关于价值/鞠宾 陈凯 英译

About Values /Ju Bin Translation by Kai Chen 关于价值/鞠宾 陈凯 英译

What are true values in life? -- Contrast China & America 中美价值观对照

Ju Bin 3/20/2009 Translation by Kai Chen

In 2008, CCTV held a student conference in Beijing, inviting some high school students from America and China, 12 from each country to be exact. The American students were chosen from the “President Award” winning group, while the Chinese students were chosen from a group ready to enter top Chinese colleges. They were all supposed to show what talents they had in the conference. Yet most prominently both groups of students were given a test/survey to detect what they valued in life. The host listed some common values for both groups such as wisdom, power, truth, wealth, virtue… Without exception, the American students all chose truth and wisdom, and alas, also without exception the Chinese students all chose power and wealth. I remember after the program, one education expert from China commented, alarmed with trepidation: “The Chinese students need some fundamental change in their value system. They all are like zombies without any virtue and soul.”

We all know that one’s value orientation is mainly shaped by the educational system and his or her family in a particular culture. It in turn forms and influences one’s own thinking and behavior. Indeed Chinese culture has lasted for some two thousand years. Yet we should have the courage to filter out those degenerate and corrupt elements in our ancient culture. We should use our common sense and reasoning ability, in short, use our brain instead of our face or skin color, to think things through, to analyze and criticize the decadent and anti-value culture we have all inherited in order to move forward into the future, toward hope.

In China every child from the day he or she starts to comprehend things is taught to endure hardship so as to be “a man above men”. In schools and at home, the teachers and parents remind the pupils and children again and again: “Work hard and endure all pains so you can succeed in achieving higher societal status.” We are force-fed the creed “To endure and suffer more than others, so you can be above others in the future.” We are so brainwashed by our adherence to Confucianism that the only purpose of one’s education is to be a government official and to climb the social ladder more quickly. The ultimate ideal in our tradition for a person is to be a high official and to make a lot of money. The more people envy you for your position and wealth, the better. No one has an iota of understanding about happiness and freedom, and along with it - a person’s individual responsibility to himself and to society.

Here to illustrate my point I want to tell you a true story about one of my close friends and his daughter….

Alex is a daughter of my friend K. They all live in America. Alex graduated with honor from Yale University in 2008. After graduation, Alex decided to join the Peace Corps to go to some remote area in poor countries to help people. She eventually went to a village in Zambia, Africa. I was very touched by Alex’s decision and very moved by K’s family’s pride toward their daughter’s decision.

I remember Alex was a well-mannered, somewhat shy, and well-proportioned girl of 6’1”. An excellent basketball player in high school, Alex was recruited by Yale University’s basketball program. K once brought me to see her basketball training in her high school and afterward we had dinner in the nearby Korea Town. Alex did not speak Chinese so she did not say a lot. K and I conversed in Chinese during the meal.

K told me that Alex was recruited by many universities for their basketball programs. West Point was one of them. K was very interested in sending Alex to West Point – a famed military university with very strict high standard of recruitment. Cadets in West Point don’t have to pay tuition. Instead, they are mandated to serve five years in the military as officers upon graduation. It was a great opportunity and K was very excited about it.

Yet, when it came to the final decision, K allowed Alex to choose among all the colleges available. Alex finally chose to go to Yale University and forgo West Point. K and his wife were equally as happy. It was, after all, Alex’s life and it was up to Alex to decide. Though the tuition of Yale was very high, it was nonetheless one of the best universities in the world.

Four years passed very quickly and Alex graduated from Yale with honor, majoring in History of Medicine/History of Science. However, Alex did not use her degree to immediately find a high-paying job. She volunteered instead to join the Peace Corps. Soon she was sent to Zambia in Africa. She now lives in a small village without running water and electricity. One time she even had a sever infection due to a cut on her foot while working in the village. She had to be hospitalized just to save her foot. K and his wife are very proud of Alex and they plan to go to Zambia soon to visit her. (Note: Peace Corps is a U.S. government sponsored program aimed at helping the under-developed world by sending over skilled volunteers. The commitment for the volunteers is two years.)

I wish Alex the best with all my heart, for she is indeed such a great person with great virtues and great values. She gives the best of her youth to help the needy without any regard to the risks and hardship involved. She is full of energy, full of hope, full of great values this world so lacks. She is not only a role model for American youths; she is a great role model for Chinese youths as well. I am deeply moved by Alex and by K and his wife. They have raised a good daughter.

In conclusion, I only want to recommend a book to you all: [Teaching Your Children Values] by Linda and Richard Eyre. This book has been among the best sellers for many years in America, especially among those who care deeply about their children’s spiritual lives and moral values. Honesty, courage, self-respect, love, justice, caring and kindness are among the values espoused in the book. The authors put themselves at the level of the kids, analyzing what goes through in a child’s mind. I hope you all try to read it.

(Note: Another book by Richard Eyre is entitled [Teaching Your Children Responsibility])

Photos of Alex in Zambia -- just received from K: Notice above photo when Alex (the tall girl) just arrived she had long hair. But notice below photo, due to lack of water in the village she had shaved her head.

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