Yun Yi's Stuff

Stunningly Stupid Yet Disturbing Materialism Among Chinese Communities

Posted on: February 24, 2015

A stack of Money/Picture of money (The followi...

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Last weekend while conversing with an acquaintance of mine about economy, I mentioned a person who I knew remotely, who saved $350,000 but soon lost majority of it in stock market. Right after I pronounced $350,000, my story was interrupted by this question: “What? 350 thousand you call it ‘rich'”? I looked at him, knowing perfect why he presented such an out of context question, calmly looked at him in the eye and said: “$350,000 is a big number to me.”

Of course, I didn’t have to admit to him that I was “poor”, since it’s so obvious, but my point was to exhibit in front of him, that someone just didn’t mind to admit how “poor” she was. According to current Chinese “fashion”, it’s utmost embarrassing to “uncover” your slim wallet. And I have to add, the “poverty line” set by these riches is very high!

This is not a rare case. Another time a lady scornfully said to me: “You have to borrow loan to purchase this cheap townhouse?”

This is kind of shameless stupidity I have to deal with occasionally. I said “occasionally” only because I only teach during weekend so I only communicate with some of my fellow Chinese during weekend. Had I communicate them everyday, I have no doubt I will be overwhelmed by such stupidity daily.

Not only many of these riches are really really rich, as we see even 350 grand is nothing to them, but also they act stingily. They will not give a dime to poor (not to mention that majority of Chinese population live with poverty, and that’s A LOT OF people, considering Chinese population is something like 1.5 billion!), yet they find every possible chance to brag their material possessions. Also, they live in a fierce competition, they cannot stand to see their neighbors drive a more expensive cars than theirs. Well, it’s not worth to go on with all those nonsense, as I don’t have slightest intention to bore myself and my readers.

I do not mean to say that every Chinese people act like this, but, the fact should not be shunned is: materialism in modern China is so extreme that it is not exaggerated to say, it exceeds anytime in Chinese history, or anywhere on this Earth.

Why? In my previous essay “Materialism, Who Is To Blame?”, I ascribed this to Chinese traditional ideologies – the kind that never paid too much attention on spirituality. While this is still true to me, I believe there is deeper cause than that, because ideologies exist for reasons, and that reason lies in history. Historically speaking, China has been a country that focused so much on survival struggle that material matters have been the central (or only) concern in most people’s minds. China has been so poor that only 50 years ago we saw cannibalism practiced on her barren bosom. So I believe that the constant and never-ending struggle for existence is one of the most important reasons for current wide spread materialism.

Question is, humans from all regions struggled to survive through history, is it true that China suffered more? Yes. among 10 most deadly wars, majority of them occurred in China, or had its shares in China. And is there a reason why China suffered this much? I found there is. However, it would be too much for this short post to elaborate. I’ve written some serious essays about this topic in Chinese, and I might write it in English in future, but meanwhile, this short post merely serves as a complain, or rant. All I want to say here is, that after all these struggle, it’s urgent to Chinese people to realize that materialism is a problem, not a solution.

They say in 2030 China would be the largest Christian country in the world. Though I am not into religions, I somehow think it might be a good thing for China. At least, to question about the origin or to think of the creation of the world, is one step forward after concerning only ones’ stomachs.


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