Saturday, February 3, 2007

What Does Your Soul Look LIke?

I’ve learned quite a bit this semester. The conservatives in China are on the left (think about it—they’re the ones all for communism), and the “progressives”, who want the nation to become capitalist, so they are on the right. Also, Chinese women are said to be losing many rights that they gained during the Communist Revolution. Prior to the Revolution, they were seen as objects (many men had multiple wives), but during the Revolution on, they were seen as equals (as the picture below shows). Now, though, with communism breaking down and quasi-capitalism taking place, pornographic ads are littering China and women are again being painted as objects.

The other day, during Japanese class, we were talking about a hypothetical situation in which the story’s main character overhears Japanese people talking about the him, and he remarks on how they spoke loud because they did not think that he Japanese. In another part of the story, an American asks the main character for directions, even though the main character was from Japan and did not speak any English.

My teacher asked “why do you think that the other Japanese people talked loudly about why he was Japanese?” I replied that “maybe they knew he was Japanese but thought that he did not speak Japanese.”
This confused her. She asked “How could he be Japanese and not understand Japanese?”
I told her “Maybe they assumed his parents came to America and he was born. You know, a Japanese-American. Many of my friends are Japanese-American.”
She replied by saying that “all Japanese know how to speak Japanese.”

This, to me, shows that we are indeed losing the way of our ancestors. Sure, we go through the rituals (mochi pounding and visits to the temple on New Years Day), but we can no longer even naturally speak their languages. Really, though, isn’t culture more than just language? Isn’t it who we are? Isn’t it where we’re from? Isn’t it what we believe in? Isn’t it the reason that we believe in what we believe in? Then, the question again comes up: How can we know any of these things if we could not even speak the language that our ancestors spoke. How can we really know that we’re from Japan if we can’t speak the language and ask? How can we really know that the Shinto and Buddhist doctrines are embedded in our parent’s lessons that they themselves adopted from their parents if we cannot understand the language that the Shinto and Buddhist doctrines are in (I know Buddhism is an Indian-based religion).

Then it comes back to asking if it really matters if we speak the language. Who cares if we can’t question it and make certain when we know in our hearts and were told by way of mouth. Isn’t this the way that history was passed down by our ancestors? Isn’t what’s important in our hearts all that really matters?

Then, our human nature gets hold of us. We want to know that what we hold dear is true. How can we find out, though, if we can’t even speak the language to ask?

Of course it’s cyclical. I don’t think I ever want to reach the answer to this dilemma, because then I think I’d know more about myself than I’d ever care to. Isn’t that the problem though?

But why wouldn’t it be the problem? Isn’t life fun because of all the mysteries it presents us?

But don’t we want to try and figure out these mysteries? Isn’t that the point of life?

Is there an actual point? I don’t know. But does it really matter? When there is a point, when we have goals, we usually reach them, stand proud of ourselves for a few minutes, and then ask ourselves “What’s next?”