I’m here to talk about something I know very little about: The Great Ten.
Just in case you don’t know anything about me, I read comic books. I buy comic books. I also read lots of other things, but if there’s one thing I grok, it’s comics.
So, when the publisher of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman announced to the world it would be introducing a team of super-powered Chinese heroes, with powers reflective of their home country, I began to hope that they would also reflect moral and ethical values that could be uniquely Chinese.
Of course, this led me to wonder: what the heck are Chinese values, anyway?
In Superman, for example, we see the values and behaviors of the quintessential American insider and outsider melded into one person. Smart, confused, handsome, bespectacled, strong, weak – it’s pretty easy to figure out which traits go to which aspect of the Superman/Clark Kent mix. In Batman, we see a far more personal dichotomy. The struggle to improve one’s self and help others at the same time hints at a psychology far deeper than mere “vengeance.”
China, though, is a different question. With a history not nearly as clean-cut as the United States’, with origins sometimes drastically at odds with current regulations, it’s hard to discern what’s important to whom. Confucianism would dictate familial fealty and piety to be near the top of the list. From what I’ve read, many Chinese still consider blood ties to be extremely strong. Wandering around as a backpacker, though, it’s a bit hard to see. It’s not as if people wear their genealogies around their necks.
Monetary concerns are also a big part of Chinese culture. Gifts are most often money, when in the west we would consider a desired object or one with sentimental value to be worth more. The current government has placed a high value on controlling thought and expression – would a Chinese hero display a rebellion against that, or a patriarchical deference to it? Many of the people my Financial and Menu Adviser and I have run into have been helpful, but we’ve encountered a few rude SOBs as well. Is one the face and the other the reality? Both? Neither?
Without living in a place for an extended period of time, it’s extremely difficult to gain a sense of what’s important and what’s not ethically. It’s equally as hard to gauge the value placed on things in America we take for granted, like the assimilating immigrant or Horatio Alger-style hard work.
While nobody can predict how the lives of the Chinese will change as their country moves towards the center of the world’s stage, it seems there’s even less mention of how their values will change, as well.