I have recently just finished watching a documentary about the half Chinese, half British fashion design guru Gok Wan and his trip back to China to uncover his roots and understand a little more about a culture that is rapidly becoming one of the biggest economies in the world. Firstly, when Gok was talking to his father about the morals and values of Chinese people. I found it quite interesting to hear that the first thing on a Chinese mind is money. I suppose, working long hours, sacrificing yourself to your company and all that that entails is proof of this. There work ethic is undeniable, however, it does unfortunately come at the cost of loosing your free speech. When Gok tried to arrange a private meeting with three sisters that worked in the factory, he was soon joined by half of the company owners and bosses. If that’s not a statement about the fact that you are not allowed to express yourself, I don’t know what is.
Of course, life in China is worlds apart from that of the life one leads in Britain. Although, more recently it seems that China is desperate to adopt the British way of life, now more than ever. For example, they seem to have sprung up little temporary villages with no living habitants purely for photographical reasons, mainly for wedding photos. It is a very strange and surreal atmosphere, and as Gok expressed: we, as British people should feel comfortable in these familiar surroundings. However, it is actually very alienating.
Moreover, another value or ritual if you like that I found very interesting was the burning of materialistic objects made out of paper to support ones ancestors in the after life. For instance, Gok’s father asked him to go to a shop that made these strange paper objects, such as, money, clothes, electrical items, anything you can think of really and take them to his family home in China to burn. Doing this would in turn give Gok’s ancestors wealth, peace of mind, happiness and joy in the afterlife. It was like they were living the afterlife exactly how they lived this life, with all of there treasured possessions. This was very unusual for me and quite difficult to get my head around, because in my religion (christianity) we are taught that it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are. Whatever you leave this life with, you will not be able to take with you into the kingdom of heaven. God accepts everyone of his children, no matter their net worth. However, it is very eye opening to learn and be introduced to other peoples beliefs and I have the greatest respect for the way they celebrate their ancestors lives. It was quite moving. I wish people in this country would respect their elders more. Respect is definitely something that is lacking in this country.