Day 24: Toy Towers

Why? Because that’s just how it happened. That’s why.

Today, we saw the Terra Cotta Warriors. Honestly, I don’t want to spend time talking about them. Yes, it was spectacular to see them, but it did not feel much different than reading a text book. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly appreciate the historical relic, however between the thousands of people and the sweltering heat, it was a little difficult to absorb all of the information in one hour. I could describe the details of our walk around the park, and even talk about the history, but that information can be easily found elsewhere, and I have other things I would like to mention.

Warning: this is a cultural post, and some topics may be touchy. Please do not give up on my observations if you disagree with a viewpoint, because how will you ever learn if you refuse to think outside your own bubble?

(And yes, we all have our own bubbles of influence. Don’t lie to yourself.)

I forget who said it (and I would look it up, but I don’t have Google…), but this quote has stuck with me for a while: if you want to be right, be prepared to change your mind (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point). I don’t need to explain that quote, do I? Good. Moving on.

Let me start with this: what is a culture? A dictionary defines it as “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively”. Food, mannerisms, traditions, beliefs, all of these make a culture.

Who decides what a culture is?


But, here’s the thing about this question (and the answer). Even when the first human civilizations were forming, there were standards, or certain ways of living. Some actions were considered appropriate while others were frowned upon. Traditions formed from superstitions or beliefs (or the other way around, if you choose to see it that way).

But, cultures change. Empires expand. Empires fall. People revolt. People surrender. Reform. Science. Arts. Everything changes. Some cultures triumph, while others die out. Cultures mold together.

In every culture, the government is greatly involved. I don’t really want to get into this, but it was important to put out there. Every culture. It’s the people. The people rule. Yet some of those people are able to dictate how the rest of the people act. Anyway, this is not a political post, it’s a cultural/philosophical one…

As the world connects and interacts, we feel gifted with the right to judge. Judgment is unavoidable, let me just say that right now. But, does that give us the right to act on our judgment?

The culture you were raised in dictates the orientation of your moral compass.

We can point at every civilization and list their wrongdoings, or their faults, but… Hm… Oh, I have an example. If every nation jotted down the cons of America, and we compared the lists, they would all be different. Different nations are happy we made certain decisions, while others are not so happy. This is politics.

Now, I could rant about little things about the Chinese culture that bother me (but, in all honesty, I love this culture). For example, no lines; just clumps of people chaotically trying to gain the right-of-way. Or the shoving in the streets as people hurry by. These are rather trivial, but they make my point. Yes, they can irritate me, but it is completely normal to the people here.

Since that was a light and simple example, let’s dig in.

America is not perfect. We all know this. But, we all think this for different reasons.

The question I am asked most often (and not just by the Chinese) is “why do Americans have guns?”

The fact that gun violence is so common in the United States is one of the main reasons why people do no wish to visit. They’re terrified. So am I. They ask me if I own a gun, or if my parents own a gun, or if my friends own guns. They ask me if I’ve ever shot a gun. If I would ever shoot a gun if I felt threatened. If I would ever buy a gun to protect my family. Do I want a gun.

I answer “no” to all of these questions. Guns by themselves might not kill people, but they do make it a heck of a lot easier. Have you noticed that other nations with strict gun control have little to no gun violence? (I wonder why… *cough* *cough*)

Anyway, I’m sorry, but I have very strong opinions about that topic. And so do other nations.

You see, we yell at other nations for “immoral” acts; it is part of their culture, yet people still believe it is wrong.

Well, the rest of the world views Americans as power-hungry-gun-holders. Is this part of our culture?

You may say that only a small amount of crazed Americans actually inflict gun violence, so all of America is not to blame. But, in the world, is there one whole nation where everyone commits “evil” acts? No. Minorities, maybe. Basically, what I’m trying to say, is that there are a lot of misunderstandings and moments of hypocrisy in every nation throughout history.

What I’m trying to say, is that in the end, the world is more connected than you can ever realize.

We were driving out of the main section of the city today to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors, and I sat at a window seat on the bus. While the bus bumped over cracked roads and the air-conditioning blasted in my ear, I gazed out the window and watched as these tall, thin buildings streamed past.

These slim buildings reached the clouds and were speckled with windowsills. I probably saw hundreds of them. Almost identical, except for a few dimension variations. I watched as they crawled into view and flew out of sight over and over and over again.

Our homes are all the same. They’re all created in a similar way. The people inside make them unique. Buildings are different sizes to accommodate the demands of the people.

We can judge other cultures and judge other nations, but know that we do not stand on a pedestal as we do so. Your moral judgment is different from others’. This does not make some of us right and some of us wrong, or some of us good and some of us evil, it just makes us different, and we need to learn to communicate effectively. World views reveal more about your culture than you will learn from being raised inside it.

This was not meant to be an opinionated post, so please do not take it this way. You’re reading this blog to step into my shoes… So step into my shoes. I’m inviting you. Just, think about it. Absorb everything and never stop searching for a better answer.

Thank you for listening.


3 thoughts on “Day 24: Toy Towers

  1. Sounds like you are having a great trip. One of the greatest things about our culture too is that each of us can have differing views on parts of our culture – and that diversity of opinion makes us a stronger as a people.

    Much of the cultural exports of a country are not always an accurate reflector of what makes up that country – when I lived in Brazil many people who had not been to the US viewed us as living on the open range and cowboys as typified in Marlboro cigarette ads and the TV show ‘Dallas.’ Also had one friend who thought we had major shark problems due to all the Jaw’s movies he had seen.


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