Return To Roots

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it" - Santayana

Lately, having reached a certain age (And what age would that be? Ahhh, you'd like to know, wouldn't you?), it seems expedient to me to entertain the notion that history has something to teach us...especially the history that comes from our own ethnic and/or cultural roots.

On an off-the-cuff suggestion of my old-time online friend, Paul Myers (Rascal! He has a habit of making you think), I've begun to deepen my already existing examination into the roots of my own culture. We were having a short private message "discussion" and somehow I said to Paul, "I'm too "Westernized" to be a card-carrying traditionalist and too traditional to be a card-carrying 'Westerner'"

And Paul replied to the effect "Lots of people find themselves in this situation. Maybe there's a book in there somewhere".

While the idea of a book sounds intriguing, the main reason is to go back and take a long, deep look at my roots, which is Chinese. I was educated in an education system that was English-medium-based, and had never learned to read and write Chinese. At that time, there wasn't much need for a Chinese education in my country. While I can communicate in Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien, I had never learned to read and write. These days, I can do a little of both but I'm a long way off from average proficiency. In all other respects, however, you'd find me a "typical" Chinese, whatever that may be.

In her book "Watching The Tree", Adeline Yen quotes an old Chinese proverb that goes "Even if the tree grows to the height of 10,000 feet, falling leaves return to their roots" (Su gao qian zhang, luo ye gui ken). A reading of Lin Yutang's "My Country And My People" seem to corroborate that sentiment.

And so, I' embark on a quest to understand my Chinese roots and how 5,000 years of history has influenced the way I, a Chinese, live in the present day. I'm brushing up on written Chinese and on the history of China and the Chinese people through all its history, successes, and turmoil. And I'm also taking a prolonged look at the development and transformation of China as a modern-day superpower and how this would impact (and IS impacting) our world as a whole.

Whether you're Chinese or not, I believe you'd agree that China the New is already having a tremendous impact on the world on all fronts and that this impact will only increase in the times ahead.

In your own way, perhaps you can join me in this fascinating journey and, together, we may play a small part in shaping our world.