Last night while watching television, I found a show that was fascinating and even a bit emotional for me.
It dealt with the humble Chinese peasant. I saw it on CGTN, a Chinese television channel. It was talking about the sacrifices that the peasant made in terms of hard labour that assisted the Chinese in driving the Japanese armies out of China during World War Two.
How they built airfields, carved mountainous roads out of solid rock, and even gave their lives as simple, poorly trained soldiers, mere cannon fodder. Their daily wage was a mere bowl of rice with a few scraps of vegetables in. Months, even years, were sacrificed in arduous labour.
I know the channel I watched was probable propaganda but the fact remains about their constant sacrifice for their nation. I wondered why? Why would these people give so much for so little?
I remember seeing a show on American history and how the Chinese "coolie" built some of the most incredible roads in the Western United States with great courage, through the Rocky Mountains. Quite a few of them died in its construction. These people did what no other was prepared to do. Poor wages and terrible living conditions, yet these simple people knew how to work! They may have been poor, but they were courageous and smart.
I look at my own continent of Africa and at my own country of South Africa. South Africa saddens me the most; as I have written previously, the poison of entitlement and laziness curses the land. Too many are bitter when they see the wealth of others. The clamouring question is "why can't I have that too?" The demand is "give it to me! It is my right!" The politicians feed off that, wanting the vote. In every election, the issue of Land Expropriation without Compensation comes up. Anger is felt everywhere, the landowners who are threatened and the dispossed who feel the process it being dragged out and taking too long. The South African Rand loses a value as negative publicity is raised in the media. It is a very sensitive matter that I will consider for a later article. Lots of land had been previously stolen by the old Apartheid Nationalist Government in the 1920's and 1930's for example.
So why do the Chinese peasant appear to be willing to give so much for so little? Is it their religious foundation? Is it the culture? I heard a very interesting concept the other day relating to the Asian. It deals with rice as compared to wheat as found in the Western world. To grow rice is tremendously hard work and it is even like a joint family endeavour. The kids must help the parents and so on, even after school a few hours may be required in the rice paddy. Does this help create the close family ties that seem to exist; the veneration that the older folks are held in by the younger family members?
I think that all these factors do contribute.
The key must be their willingness to work so hard for so long; UNRELENTING.
To lazy people, if there is inadequate compensation for their efforts, then there is no requirement to work.
In South Africa, there is a concept called "sick leave". In general terms it means that every worker as the possibility to take 36 working days over a three year period. At the end of a year, any unused sick leave days lapse. Most (and I repeat most) of the working class in this country regard sick leave as their right to use. Rather take a day off pretending to be sick, and don't lose the day! Even yesterday when I went to the Chemist, there was a very engaging lady who was saying it is time for her to take a few days off as she hasn't been sick for a long time. Can you imagine any Chinese person or Japanese person having such a mindset? This is why Africa will remain at the bottom of the pile when having to compete against any Asian nation.
Work in and of itself is a reward; increased abilities and capacities. Benefit to society, development of a culture of being prepared to work. How many times haven't I seen where the peasant is prepared to give many years, even their entire lives in the hope that things will be better for their children?
I remember a news item years ago where Japanese students were complaining about there being too many holidays! I look at the most unsuccessful countries and I see that those are the countries with the most holidays.
The development of China into a world class society is happening rapidly. Their work ethic and self sacrifice is a solid foundation upon which a successful society is built.
Yes, they may have a long way to go but they have come an even longer way.
I better tell my kids to start learning a Chinese language as they are going to take over the world.
Watch out world, here they come!