Self introduction – International Communications class

Hi, my name is Matthew. I am a Chinese American. I have always been influenced by Chinese culture and traditions.  My family is Buddhist but we were never actively religious. We are also guided by Taoism and Confucianism. We follow many rituals like tomb sweeping and ancestral worship. Also there is a strong emphasis to do well in school, to become a useful member of society and to refrain from causing trouble for society. But what affected me personally the most was not growing up with one culture, rather it was noticing that I grew up with two seemingly divergent ideologies. In school the individual was highly emphasized but at home, I would be reminded that we are a collective aggregate. Western philosophy always taught us that human cultivation began with the individual and it was our freedom to explore and come to our own conclusions about life. Eastern philosophy told us that human cultivation began within our family. We must follow the rules set by our parents and discipline is highly valued until we were “true adults”. Confucius believed that it wasn’t until we were 40 years old that we began to truly understand the world around us and so it was discouraged to disrupt the harmony in society before we really understood the world. I think the biggest realization I had from this dichotomy is that I don’t disagree with either one. I understand their perspectives and their end goals are both the same; to cultivate a human soul the best they can in order to live a meaningful life and to be able to contribute to society. This personal experience is a reminder to me that there are many solutions to the problems in our world. The best solution is always to listen to all solutions, no matter how absurd and inconceivable it may be. Because one day you might find that this absurd idea suddenly isn’t so absurd anymore after it has shaped the course of our world.  


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