Cross-cultural exchange

So I guess there has been a lot on my mind over the last few months in regards to cross-cultural exchange. These are things that I have always been hesitant to write about here for no real reason at all besides embarrassment. I have come to a certain understanding with myself that embarrassment is not a reasonable response here and that I should be more open in my particular inner battles. I guess I kind of only have myself to blame for the particular predicaments that I find myself in now. In retrospect, I was pretty content to blind myself to the problems I knew where bound to occur and it wasn't until recently that such things were really forcibly pushed to the forefront. Without getting to personal or too nasty (as I can be with these sorts of things), there is some pressure on myself and my significant other to move to hong kong (her home city...sort of) in the not too distant future. Having been there, I can, with some authority, say that it seems like a fine place to live...for someone else. Really its a busy metropolis full of both the super rich and the dismally poor and it embodies everything about the modern china both the good and the bad with just a sprinkling of european influence to make things interesting. The people of hong kong are markedly different than the people of the mainland but, just the same, they are grappling with becoming a first world economy and all of the changes that accompany such things. They are a city of gucci handbags and fine wines surrounded by villages and customs so old that no one remembers why they have them. A city of western religions (christianity predominates) that is still entrenched in ancestor worship, shrines, and fortune tellers. All those things certainly have their place in this world, I'm just not sure I would have a place in that world. Certainly hong kong could be called a city that had everything...and yet the things I treasure the most are likely not to be found there. I would be a helpless outsider in much of my life...clinging to what bits of westernization I could find. With that in my mind, I have enormous respect for those that come to US from foreign lands (particularly Asia and Africa). However, at the same time the US is somewhat unique in its ability to integrate enormous numbers of disparate groups into its society. This is certainly not done perfectly in all circumstance but the prevalence of thriving ethnic neighborhoods and communities is testament to this. China at large has yet to even come close to approaching this (fueled in part by years of maoist cultural hegemony spurned on by immense distrust of the western world, that effectively closed china off). Certainly Hong Kong as a city is better but they still maintain vivid separation of races both culturally and economically and are no where near immune to the sentiments of china as a whole. It would not be interesting or productive for me to make a list of the things that would be different (though if I started I would never have to think of another blog topic). I suppose my future lies in really fairly simple determination, to what lengths am I willing to sacrifice (and in some respects sacrifice on behalf of others I love) for another person. I suppose the fact that I even consider such things is testament to how serious this is for me but unfortunately such commitment does not solve the problem. The other truly unfortunate aspect of this particular problem is what it requires me to do emotionally. It is really no accident that I decided to become a wasn't a choice between pastel drawing, architecture, and science. They way I think, the analysis, the critical nature of my being is like an inborn destiny to be in science. This is not to say that I am gods gift to science but rather to say something more about my personality. I can't turn it off...whether in the lab or out of it I think the same way in almost everything I do. I make every attempt to break things down into their easily understandable parts and analyze them for what they are. It informs almost everything I do in life, reasoned analysis and logic guide me...choices are made by looking at all the conceivable outcomes and moving from there. I don't believe in chance or luck or leaving anything up to fate. These are things that I can not reasonably understate. Unfortunately, the emotions at play in this particular instance require much more of me and seem to transcend the usual logic. This of course leaves me at a bit of a loss, totally disarmed and turned upside down with no real way to learn any other way of being. For every effort to think logically about the problem, I am thwarted by emotion based in culture and heart rather than head. For certain, this is not to say that those are any less valid means of decision making...they are just rarely MY means of decision making. Of course, I can't really separate that two because while the vast majority of my life is directed through logic...the choice of who one's associates with and more so, who one falls in love with is rarely guided by such clear cut analysis. I can rant for hours on why moving to china is, with every amount of reasoned arguing...a poor choice for my future but that does not stop the fact that logic is no longer a part of the equation. So I suppose it becomes a problem of how much i am willing to surrender to the desires of the heart (someone elses in this case) at the expense of that which has guided me this far. While its "cliche" they say that "the night is darkest just before the dawn" and I certainly hope thats true because its starting to feel like midnight. Lighter posts to come. Patrick OUT

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So this isn't too close to your situation, but several friends have asked me how it is that I could give up my free will (essentially) by marrying into the army and committing myself to a decent ten years or more of wondering often far from loved ones, home, and promises of work.

I was able to do it because love blinded me to the realities of the truth I was entering. I will be honest with you and say the first week or so was utter shock as I realized exactly what I had put myself into (a highly uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and inescapable world). After my adjustment period, I realized I wouldn't leave if you paid me because the relationship is worth the changes.

This is some sort of equation you have to calculate, but for what its worth, you two are welcome to float the US with me for 10 years or so as an escape of both Hong Kong and what is considered normal - I immensely enjoy the company of your particular duo.

<3 younger sis

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