A reflection on societal values

TFBoysFrom left, Wang Yuan, Wang Junkai and Yiyang Qianxi of the Chinese boy band TFBoys performing at an awards ceremony in Beijing last year. Credit Imagechina, via Associated Press

I posted a comment on a recent article in the New York Times.

The article titled “In China, It’s the Party That Keeps the Boy Band Going” was published on May 6, 2017. To read it, click on Article.

Here it is:

I recently gave an assignment to my students who are in their second year at a national university in Shanghai. It consisted of writing a critical analysis on an editorial found in a well-respected western newspaper. A comment often seen was that the editorial was too negative. It lacked “positiveness”.

The source of this approach is based on the formation people receive all along their schooling and in the society at large. People are molded in a positive attitude towards society. That approach is not new to China as it can be found in the philosophy that Confucius advocated 2,500 years ago.

The same attitude can also be seen when Kennedy said: “Ask not what your nation can do, but what you can do for your nation.”

What is of concern is not this “positiveness” but the lack of a critical discourse. Unfortunately, the Chinese society and my students do not have the mental framework to proceed along this path. Hopefully, as the Chinese society matures this trait will emerge, implementing a constructive framework to critical analysis that the West often lacks.


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