Thursday, June 24, 2010

This is Asian Values…

Another good advertisement filmed by MCYS on Filial Piety. I think this is a good example of Asian Values .

I remembered some time ago, Mr Arty One asked during a class discussion what is Asian Values. No one in class could really explained properly what it is and I also haven’t got a clue on how to explain it.

Then months after it, I happened to chance upon an interview transcript of MM Lee with Mark Jacobson from National Geographic. In it, MM Lee elaborated cultural difference between Singapore and Western countries, which I believe could explain what Asian Values is. Asian Values is akin to concepts of Confucianism that “society is more important than the individual, that the individual must care for the society and the interests of the society must take precedence over the individual, which is contrary to the American or Western system which says the individual trumps everything…"

You can read the transcript here.

In additions to the above, Asian values also emphasised that family is the basic unit of society. There is also this saying in ancient China - 修身 齐家 治国 平天下 which essentially meant one needs to be self-disciplined, properly managed their household affairs well before they can go on to govern a country and rule the world. Family is regarded as an important aspect of one’s life and even career. If you cannot manage your family properly, how can you then do bigger things like governing a country?

Due to globalisation, Singapore is increasingly becoming westernised. Western culture which might seem innocent but actually exerted a lot of influences on us unknowingly, like Hollywood films, TV dramas, books, pop culture etc.

Those materials promoted values which are not typical of Singapore’s value. For example, westerners moved out of their parents’ house and encouraged to be independent when they became of age and start living on their own. This is very common in the western countries to the effect that if you are still living with your parents after a certain age, people began to see you as abnormal.

However, in context of Singapore, we are Asians nonetheless. We are brought up in a big extended family. People only move out of their parent’s flat when they are married. Some only child had to live with their parents.

I highlighted both examples to show that they are cultural differences and it is not fair to judge which of it is right and which of it is wrong. I do however see a problem in which young people who are increasingly westernized, think that by being independent, they can leave their parents to fend for themselves. I do not supposed that westerners who had left their parents’ house will essentially do not care about their parents anymore. I think they still care for their parents.

In the advertisement, the boy asked why did the father still care so much for the grandmother when she had treated them so badly. I interpreted it as an instant gratification characteristic which many young people, especially the generation Y readily adopt nowadays. Things are not just straightforward good or bad and then you tried to show them back. Sometimes there are many considerations in a situation which one might not know.

Parents are people who had brought you to this world. One basically owed everything they had to them. They might nag a lot and even scold us which we might not appreciate them now. However, do put yourself in their shoes. Do you want your children to treat you the way you are treating your parents? The kind of values you are imparting to them now is what you will receive back later in life.

Start cherishing your parents before they are gone. 

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