Recently, I realize a general rule or philosophy of life.
Raising up in an Asian family, I was taught to be a competitive, good student. I have to be at the top in class, win competitions, perform piano to guests, and become a teacher’s pet. The only motivation that keeps me working hard is the reward of pride. As a Vietnamese daughter, I was raised up by my traditional parents who are slightly strict. I am not good and passionate at Science, Math or piano. However, my parents, as typical Asians, believe that studying science,math defines a smart and successful person. Piano, on the other hand, represents the nobility of a girl in the future. I am not a genius in any of those subjects; however, unfortunately, I am good enough to please my parents. I could play a lot of difficult pieces of Mozart, Bach, and famous piano pieces. I was in the Math, Science team for excellent students and won prizes in my regions. Teachers would find me as their favorite student who is obedient, perfectly normal, and most of all- able to achieve good grades.
My parents thought that I was talented and would grow up in the way they have drawn paths for me. True, playing piano is easy because you only have to practice. Soon, I figured out that I could play any song, and so does everyone. For Math, the more you I do old practices tests, the more I recognize that the test questions appeared using the same ways of thinking paths. Therefore, winning the competitions depends on whether you do enough practice and have luck to get the same questions you have already solved. My parents did not know that I keep something for myself in secrets. I like risks, traveling, adventures, writing, swimming, and wild activities that they consider “harmful, time-waste, and useless” activities. According to Adam Grant’s article, How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Up, the environment where I grew up had made impact psychologically to my development. They have specific schedules and check me. At 7:00, I sat neatly on the tables, at 8:30, I had break and was allowed to have some snacks, at 10:30, I went to bed. Between 7:00 and 10:30, my dad would come and check anytime whether I did something else except for studying. I don’t blame on my parents, though. Now, when I am free, I still have dreams and things I want to do when I was small; however, I do not dare to do them because I would go back on the same path of doing them for success or for fame sake, not for my own sake. For example, I want to write, when I start to write, I would go on the thoughts of “I would never be another J.K. Rowling”. Or I would have nothing to write about because I do not have time to retrospect and observe life. However, I am learning to thinking differently now.
Whenever I do good things for my friends, my family would criticize for my naive and stupidity. When I came to America, I observe my Asian friends in class and they, too, are quite indifferent in caring for people (and animals). I don’t want to make a stereotype, but I believe Asian students tend not to prioritize the importance of morality. We are indifferent to the society, the community where we live. For example, in class, when we do a Zombie Apocalypse, my Asian friends would simply answer “we don’t care” or “just left them behind” when they were asked whether they wanted to save the victims. True, it is just a game, and we stop our brain from thinking further for more creative methods of saving the methods. We simple shut our brains and not to waste energy for our brains to think more ways to save the victims. Another example would be in a class, while the Americans were talking about outside classroom stories somewhat relating to what we are studying, the Asian would be quiet and gave a “finished-yet-look”. A really common example would also be animals and environment issue. I used to be very indifferent in caring about the environment and animals as they have no impact in my life.
Then, I realize that I should live in this life for my human’s sake. According to Raise a Moral Child, Adam Grant, people should learn to live a life of morality, bring kindness to people. Our goal should not be making as much money as we could and live luxury life. We should learn to care more about the community we live. I started to learn to care about the community where I live and I started to come with new and valuable ways to improve our community, from the very little things. The thought of caring for my community really forces me to think beyond. My intrinsic motivation is simply wants to see happiness in people. By having such motivation, I come up with more creative ideas and actions. They could be small ideas that touch other people’s hearts or make a difference. A chocolate candy on the table of someone with a note can make someone’s day. Using that idea, we could make an organization bring happiness to people by creating services to deliver notes or love to those who we want them to know they have meanings in our life. The feelings of seeing someone happy are the rewards that we should treasure. Such emotions become our intrinsic motivations or create positive reinforcement.
However, it comes to a debate of individualism versus community. Shall people care more about themselves or pay attention more to the community around them. There is no absolute or black-and-white answer of either or. Caring to ourselves is understandable, and all of us do that. However, I’m trying to learn to perceive and develop the benefits of caring others. Caring to other people also means caring to yourself. Therefore, open your kindness, generosity, and care for the people, the community where you live.
Therefore, do you think that is partly the reasons why Asian culture is not as developing as the Western culture?