Monday, January 7, 2008

Mindlessly imitating the West

Imitation,it has quite rightly been said, is the sincerest form of flattery.Ever since the West colonised large parts of Asia, we find that Asians have to a considerable degree aped Western ways and the Western way of life.This is largely a result of colonisation as the Western-coloniser introduced and imposed his language, his culture, his religion, his politics and system of government, his social mores, his economic system and his values and attitudes on the Asian.

Long periods of colonisation, as was the case in the West's colonisation of Asia, invariably results in the colonised people choosing to blindly imitate the coloniser.The one colonised is brainwashed mainly through the education system, the value-system based on the coloniser's religion and the mass media introduced and controlled by the coloniser into thinking and believing that the coloniser is superior in most things and that the only way that he can improve himself is by adopting the ways of these "superior" people as much as he can.If he accepts and conforms to the Western way of life he stands a chance of being duly rewarded with a senior position in the civil service and in other ways.He is taught to believe that his own native way is deficient and poor in comparison with that of the coloniser. Changing this mindset is not something that can be overturned within a shortframe of time, even with the end of colonisation, and it sometimes takes generations before the peoples who were once colonised can break free.

Hence today we see large sections of Asian peoples, despite having gained their independence of their colonial masters, still living and adoring the Western way of life and discarding the ways of their forefathers.Few venture to enquire and examine whether the ways of their forefathers are in fact inferior and few still wonder whether their forefathers would "turn in their graves" if they could but see the manner of living of their descendants.

Even at the superficial level we see the Asian still ape the West.We find Chinese, Indians, Filipinos,Indonesians,Malaysians and others sporting names like Francis,Tony,Mark and Henry---names that would be totally alien to their forefathers.We find Asians dyeing their hair all shades of colour in imitation of the Westerner and slavishly following Western fashion,entertainment and culture.It did not take long for instance after the advent of rap music and navel-exposing jeans in the West for Asians to adopt it.Just as it became hip in the West for men to sport earrings and to wear a baseball cap backwards, Asians followed suit. In so doing, the Asian deprecates his own culture.

We see national leaders,captains of industry and executives and those in high society of Asian countries meticulously maintaining their dress code of coat and tie for official and formal functions notwithstanding that the weather may not actually be suitable for such attire.The tie incidentally is about the most worthless, useless piece of clothing ever designed as it serves absolutely no purpose for those living in warmer climates. The fact that it is worn as a status symbol and as a necessary part of one's attire and as a mark that one has attained to a certain strata of society is all the more alarming and is indicative of the extent to which western values have permeated the Asian.In all these ways the Asian consciously or unconsciously lends weight to his acceptance of the superiority of the Western way of life and its values.These are at the relatively superficial level but is nevertheless indicative of the extent of mindless imitation.

Greater impact is felt at the level of economic, educational and political values and attitudes on the Asian. Democracy, based essentially on the Westminster-model, and human rights ala the West is assumed without much debate as the most-perfect form of government for any society and the minimum rights and expectations of its citizens respectively.Capitalism and by extension now globalisation is seen and accepted by the Asian as the only way to move forward, whilst education modelled on what the Westerner introduced is the only way to attain to the high pedestal of a scholar.

It has also often been said that the person who imitates can never in the eyes of the one imitated equal the " original" and that the one who imitates shall at best be viewed as a "poor second".Is it any wonder then if the Westerner generally views the Asian as inferior and with disdain? In this it is the Asian's fault in having abandoned his own values, focus and way of life and preferring that of the Westerner.

It is perhaps now time for the Asian to rediscover and examine and perhaps adopt some of the ways and values of his forefathers and to determine his own way of life rather than be in mindless imitation of the West. He should look into the spiritual, social,economic, political and moral compasses of his forefathers.It will take a mental revolution to do so but a start ought to be made now before it is too late for the Asian, having done away with physical colonisation, only to have it replaced with and be subjugated by mental colonisation.

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