Postscript: The Chinese phrase I dislike the most.
Postscript...I've added a link below as regards Mandarin usage.
The Chinese phrase I dislike the most.
No, it’s not “mei you banfa”.
中国就是这样…zhongguo jiu shi zheyang.
I disdain this phrase. To the core. It speaks volumes of China, of it’s aspirations, and it’s well understood hopelessness. It explains why change doesn’t come about, and when it does, it is non-hurried.
It explains the lack of urgency, in general, on everything.
“This is the way China is”, or “That’s just the way China is.”
When wishing to have a discussion based on logic, and reason, a decisive end to any conversation can be had by just uttering the above. There is nothing subtle about it. There is no debate.
Rather, the fellow across the table, whether it be a business discussion, a discussion about society, or what have you, will by default refuse, or be unable to give a logical, common sense answer to a problem, regardless of the topic, by simply uttering the above.
By doing so, a population collectively misses the opportunity to seek solutions. In my view, the above phrase is a cop out. It’s intellectually lazy. Why is this phrase so common?
I think it is because the Chinese people are simply not used to having a say. And they’ve accepted as much. They’ve internalized the fiction that “we are so old a country, and had these customs for so long, that therefore change in itself is not possible”．
Doesn’t this sound negative? Not exactly a “can do” attitude, is it?
By using this phrase they admit their own lack of control over the direction of their society, and of their culture. Every culture has it’s own crazy contradictions that make no sense. But they will than explain ad nausea why that is so. They want you to understand. They don’t want you having a negative impression of their society. For example, why on earth does America allow guns with 100 bullet magazines? Ask any gun rights advocate and right or wrong, they will spend 30 minutes speaking nonstop, explaining with full passion why this is so. Why this makes perfect sense.
But you won’t have anyone using the above phrase as an explanation.
Not in China. The lack of curiosity, the lack of societal reflection is astounding. Is this the result of 5000 years of authoritarianism?
Why are so many people in the countryside still unable to speak Mandarin, even though an intensive campaign to increase Mandarin usage had been underway for many decades?
Why do your mother and father insist you get married by 25, even though they themselves got married when they were young and divorced when you were a kid? It makes perfect sense for you to marry young, doesn’t it?
Why do people let their children use the bathroom in the street?
Why are only daughters put up for adoption, unless the son is handicapped?
Why do people still insist on having boys, despite the surplus?
Why do people “rent” boyfriends or girlfriends to show their parents?
Why do parents insist on seeing a fortune teller when approving a potential spouse for their child?
Why are there so many large families in the countryside even though the 1 child policy has been in effect for 30 years?
A country cannot change itself with more BMW’s, or more foreign products. It cannot change itself with longer bridges, or faster trains. Only a change in thinking can change a country. And that requires challenging the current mores of society. A challenge to the status quo. So I’m not overly optimistic about change, in China. And the above phrase explains why, perfectly.