Friday, January 4, 2008

Culture Clash

I often find myself complaining internally about all the things I find broken about Japanese culture, and why it needs to change before it can join the ranks of modern societies. However instead of being so negative, I thought I'd turn things around and talk about how Japanese handle certain kinds of problems and how their backwardness is wisdom in disguise -- something they have discovered that the rest of the world, especially Americans, really need to figure out before they can be called civilized:

While ignoring a problem will never make it go away, many times turning a blind eye to a problem really is simply the best choice among worse alternatives: Attempting to fight against a tide that is not ready to change will only make things worse, and the best option you have available is to just ride it out.

Its tempting to look at Japanese who are ignoring a glaring problem by putting their head in the sand as childish and irresponsible, and take the position that our western tendency to leap on problems as obstacles to be overcome through a vigorous response, is clearly the progressive and adult way to handle our difficulties.

However if we take the position that we must clearly examine the real-world results of both active and passive responses, we will find that the reality is that our desire to interfere in things we cannot actually control often only makes things worse. And the so the "foolish" course of ignoring problems allows conditions beyond our control to work themselves out in time; without requiring our personal intervention, and thus actually turns out to be the only method of reaching a positive outcome.

So often our ethnocentrism is just not justified in practice. And with a change of perspective we find ourselves viewing our actions not as being proactive and adult-like, rather childishly self centered, impulsive, and obstinate (-- as Japanese view them).

No comments: