“In the matter of our attitude toward age, the difference is absolute, and the East and the West take absolutely opposite points of view.” — Lin Yutang, “The Importance of Living” (1937)
While in Taiwan, a group of us on the FreedomFest Asian cruise visited the home of Lin Yutang, the great libertarian Chinese philosopher. Read my essay on Lin Yutang. It is No. 1 on my list of Top 10 articles on my personal Website, www.mskousen.com.
Lin says that the one big difference between Chinese and American culture was in their attitude toward age. In China, grandparents and the aged are venerated, and the young often ask their elders, “what is your glorious age?” But in America, youth is celebrated, and every effort is made to look younger. “You don’t look a year over 30,” an American might say to a 50-year-old.
In China, according to Lin Yutang, “a natural man loves his children, but a cultured man loves his parents.”
I mentioned this old Chinese tradition of venerating the elders to Professor Richard Wong of the University of Hong Kong, and he said sadly that the old Chinese tradition of respecting experience no longer exists. As a result of the one-child policy there, there are four grandparents doting on one grandchild. The large Chinese family has been destroyed. Under the one-child policy, there are no brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts or uncles. It is a great tragedy. Now youth is celebrated just as it is the West. It is all about young people. If China doesn’t reverse its one-child policy soon, all will be lost.
In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter from last week about what investment expert Jim Rogers said during my Asian tour.