Saturday, April 16, 2005
In China, when I was visiting my sis, I needed to get some passport photos taken in order to get my Laos visa (I have no idea what these countries do with these pics, as they are not returned with the visa. They simply vanish...). A local store could provide this service so over we ran (it was cold as hell, remember) to get something accomplished.
A quick reminder: in China, image is everything. Vanity is a birthright and is practiced indiscriminately.
Which is why the photog made me don a shirt and tie and jacket for the picture! I wish I had had one of my last visa pics-unshaven, tshirt, not looking my best. And now they insisted I dress up. Of course my sis only laughed and did nothing to persuade them that I didn't need to look nice. On went the shirt, tie, and jacket. Then she made me comb my hair. Oof.
Pictures were taken, the quantity desired was stated and a pick-up time the next day was established. The next ten minutes were filled with my sis continuously telling them not to 'fix-up' my pictures; not to adjust them in any way. Seems strange, yeah? Well, they'd already started 'improving' me almost before the photos were downloaded onto their computer. Take out the freckles, lighten the skin, etc, etc. Vanity. Unbelievable. My sister actually had problems getting one of her visas because they'd changed her photo so much that the embassy folk didn't believe it was her. They couldn't understand why the problem and our unwillingness to look better.
This, my friends, is the culture that will soon take over the world.
Sidenote #1: Some new friends of mine told me that in one of the Canadian provinces (I am pretty sure it's Quebec. Forgive me for forgetting!), they are trying to make it mandatory to learn Chinese as a second language! Yeah, it's gotta be Quebec. Learn French and then Chinese before even english!! Why? There are quite a few Chinese immigrants there. But can you imagine? When most of the world is learning english as a second language, a part of North America is trying to make Chinese #2?
Sidenote #2: My analogy for China in the world today:
The card game "Hearts" is the basis of this analogy. For those that don't know, here's the basics of the game. Every card of the 'heart' suit is worth one point. The queen of diamonds is worth 13. You don't want points. Aces are high. One person lays a card, and all the rest follow suit with the highest card taking the 'trick'. If you don't have the suit played, you can throw any other card. Lowest score wins.
However, if one person gets all the hearts and the queen of spades then they 'shoot the moon' and all the other players get 26 points (the total number of points possible).
Usually, it takes a bit before the other players realize that one person is trying to shoot the moon. Sometimes you can catch it in time and prevent the bloodshed. Other times it's realized too late and the moon is shot.
China is the player trying to shoot the moon. People are catching on and realizing that the new Chinese culture, mindset, and govt are not what this world needs. The only question is, will enough people (countries) catch on soon enough to prevent....bad things? I hope so.
I realize this may sound racist, but they scare me. The culture has become so self-serving, materialistic, history has been erased, there is no long term analysis (except in terms of making money), and all they seem to care about is image and wealth. Granted, this is not everyone Chinese. It's scary though. Our (the US) consumption of raw materials doesn't compare to theirs, nor does our wastefulness. There is little to no concern for non-Chinese peoples and the environment is ignored.
Ok, enough of that. I'm not in the mood to rant. My point (if I have one?) is that in the quest for cheap products, a good trading partner, and all things good for bank accounts/economies, can the situation to which we are contributing be ignored? Yeah China produces cheap goods, but are these goodss worth it (human rights abuses also factor in to this pondering...)?