Saturday, April 10, 2004


We just watched the Last Samurai and now I would like to learn Kendo. They taught it at Melbourne Uni. One more reason to go back to Melbourne. For the longest time, I couldn't figure why they were sparring with wooden sticks. For the longest time, I was ignorant.

It was a beautiful movie.

Subtle in many ways. The Japanese are a stoic race. No wonder Dan loves them. I have always been ambivalent to Japan. Perhaps, it was a mixture of my grandmother telling me stories about how Japanese soldiers fed my uncle and learning about their atrocities through my history courses. When in doubt, ignore. That's what I did.

I did minimal amounts of Asian history and what Asian history I remember was from this course entitled "East Asian International Relations". I recall the Japanese defeating the Russians in the Russo-Japanese war and starting the domino effect which eventually led to the fall of the Romanov dynasty. I recall the Boxer Rebellion. Not much else I'm afraid.

Although the Last Samurai is an Americanised and a much glorified view of the last days of the Samurai, the show has its merits. It reminded me of those lessons that not everything modern and advanced is good, that there are ways that we should remember and continue. I often scoffed at things my parents made me do, as I grew up. But now, I see the merits in what they have taught me, as their parents had taught them and I see my brother teaching his children. And I understand. We live in a time where we as a society face a crisis of identity and going forth, relishing all that is bright and glittery, relinquishing that which is well-worn and faded, would be a mistake.

It is for the reason, that I still hesitate to bring up my children in a western country- much as I fear that the education system here would be the end of them. It will be that much harder for us, to teach them in a Western country, the values that they must have. This is why, despite my great inability to speak the Chinese language, I am determined to teach it to them. There are just somethings that cannot be replaced or replicated.

When I was first told that my civics class was one that would take Higher Chinese, I balked. It would be akin to an infidel leading a crusade (Excuse the strange analogy, but it was the first one that popped into my mind). But I have come to respect them, because of the respect they show to us. I do not force them to thank me, I do not believe in that. But yet, at the end of every class, they come up to me and thank me. Of course, there are some values they have that I am determined to break. The inability to question what is painted in seemingly black and white and the rote acceptance of what is right.

Some may say that is where the conflict lies. Yes, that is where the challenge lies. In my interview for the humanities scholarship at 16, I was asked what I thought of the influx of all things western. My juvenile answer was straightforward, but something I still believe today- we keep some and we lose some- it's a matter of keeping what we deem important and throwing out what didn't work in the past but was kept for posterity. I still buy that.

Daniel said that at heart, I'm a traditional kinda gal. Maybe I am. Maybe all those years of Western schooling has opened my mind enough to see that not all things old and Asian are bad. Or maybe that revelation just comes with age. Whatever it is, I'm glad to be that kinda gal.

30 Jan 2004

Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:58

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