Sunday, March 18, 2007

Perception and reality

Perceptions and reality are entirely based on where you are located. I read a very interesting example of this in the book I am currently reading, Wild Swans by Jung Chang, a story of three generations of women in China. When the author was growing up in China, during the heydays of Mao, she and everyone else in the country, were fed on stories of how great communism is and how bad capitalism is. Predictable, right? But here is where it gets interesting, people in the tightly controlled China of those days, actually believed that people in the capitalist west fared much worse than themselves. They didn't have any other source of information, expect the government's mouthpiece and so for them that was the truth.

Excerpts from the book, pg 307-308:
(On seeing a feature film based in the west)
I was baffled by the way the Western workers were dressed-in neat suits that were not even patched, a far cry from my idea of what the oppressed masses in a capitalist country ought to be wearing.

As a child, my idea of the West was that it was a miasma of poverty and misery, like that of the homeless "Little Match Girl" in the Hans Christian Andersen story. When I was in the boarding nursery and did not want to finish my food, the teacher would say: "Think of all the starving children in the capitalist world!" In school, when they were trying to make us work harder, the teachers often said: "You are lucky to have a school to go to and books to read. In the capitalist countries children have to work to support their hungry families."

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