Emile Durkheim’s functional view of society suggests that the social environment we live in shapes our personality. Does it or does it not? I think it definitely influences, if not casts, one’s personality. My personal journey from a rural county in Tibet to world-class higher learning institutes in the US enables me to have a deeper level of understanding of the importance of where I call home.
Upon graduating from universities in the U.S, I often spaced out into long spins of deep contemplation: where to call home. Where should I pursue a career and start a family?
China? Regardless of all the debate about its total corruption, moral failure, political totalitarianism, leading role in energy consumption and carbon emission, it’s still where my childhood memories along with my beloved family members live. It’s hard to imagine distancing myself away from my parents when age deprives them of physical vitality and every additional month seems to deepen their wrinkles and harden their joints.
Yes, with the modern transit system and cutting edge technology we are fully wired. In theory, I can visit and contact my relatives at anytime and from anywhere. However, it is also this very notion of fully wired that excuses us from shouldering our responsibilities as a son/daughter and reduces the role of parents into a background voice, a clip of video and a holiday visit. So, should I call the great wall home and return to work in China?
If I do, am I failing the generations yet to come, who will address me us their father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Frankly speaking, the great wall is not necessarily a great place to live. It’s dirty. A short walk in any urbanized part of China, all senses are bound to fall victim to urbanization. The smell, the noise, the ever-jammed traffic gridlock, and the stuffed public transit hardly leave any healthy room for me to welcome my kids when everyone else is trying to immigrate to elsewhere.
It’s rude. A person is often judged and treated by his dress than qualifications. Hyper-frequent public spitting and toss of trash is nothing out of the ordinary. An increasing number of Chinese people are falling in love with pets. However, the difference between westerners and Chinese people walking their dogs is while the former bag up and get rid of dog drops, the latter rush their pets and walk away from the scene as soon as job is done.
It’s unfair. The disadvantaged ones are always trapped in a cycle of poverty. A poverty that is not situational but generational, which Dr. Ruby K. Payne describes as a cycle that passes from generation to generation. Opportunities are circulated within the social elites. It is even true with employment opportunities. Some work up from their bootstrap and successfully complete college degrees or even achieve higher credentials and only find themselves being sent to some rural villages to idle away the rest of their lives, while others don’t even need to complete high school degrees and are already promised with highly paid government jobs in the main town seats or cities. It’s beyond startling to witness the level of indifference and apathy government officials hold towards corruption and injustice. It is a system that operates on cash and connection.
The list goes on, but let me end it with one last comment about its lack of safety. Theoretically, everyone is equal in front of the rule of law. However, rule of law are made and operated by people. Therefore, corruption among people infects the system and distort rule of law. Lives are constantly lost at the hands of those who are supposed to safeguard people’s lives. Public facilities often claim lives due to their ill design and poor qualifications. There is also an increasing number of cases in which second-generation-elites, as it is often being called, sport with people’s lives. What is happening in China between the bourgeois and the proletariats is no less cruel than what has happened between the whites and the blacks in the history of U.S. Different level of lynching can be seen and read day in and day out. Therefore, if I call China home, I am depriving my kids of the freedom and safety they otherwise can enjoy elsewhere.
Where I call home is a generational concern. Should I take care of the ones ahead of me or should I prepare for the ones yet to come?
Now, U.S has often been described as the land of opportunity. Americans do enjoy, for the most part, a higher level of freedom that we all dream for. It’s reasonable to argue that the legal and educational systems in the U.S are far more advanced and better crafted than anywhere else. If I were to become American citizen, I can have my voice heard and opinions shared. As long as I don’t violate the rule of law, it’s a powerful defense weapon that can provide my family and me with security and justice. So, should I call U.S home?
In the eyes of westerners, Asians equal Chinese and Chinese are born cheap. For any cheap product and service, China town is the place to go to. Racial discrimination will always be there. Yes, U.S is working hard and has made amazing progress in shaking off all sorts of discriminations. However, a level of overdone often spells discriminatory residues in the activities day in and day out. Be it a joke, a random conversation, a flint of eye, a subtle gesture, discrimination is still omnipresent in the U.S. So, am I going to await my kids to fall prey to such discrimination?
What about Europe? What about an island? What about a village? Where is a home and where can I call home? Where would Emile Durkheim recommend anyone to live?