Today’s BlogHer prompt for National Blog Posting Month is:
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
How much does your culture come into play in your day-to-day life?
When I see the word culture, I first think of the Japanese side of my family. That’s not to say my dad’s side of my family “ain’t got no culture,” but the culture of the English, Irish and Scottish mix on my dad’s side seems to have blended into what we consider to be American influence and it’s harder to pick out.
The first thing I thought of when I read the prompt was what I wrote about in my post yesterday — losing face. So again, you can imagine my jaw dropping when, upon researching the origin of “losing face,” I found it was Chinese.
I should ask my Japanese cousins if the threat of losing face was as much a part of their upbringing as children of a Japanese mother, or, if it was simply my mom’s clever way of getting me to behave. Because still today, even in midlife, I hear a little voice (probably the echo of my mom) saying, “Janice, you don’t want to lose face, do you?” In otherwords, “Janice, behave yourself.”
I’m kind of teasing. Whether or not the actual words “losing face” are a part of the Japanese culture I learned, I know that pride is a very strong trait, and part of that pride is doing as we should and doing it well.
Come to think of it, my dad’s side of the family did have a similar philosophy that I also try to live by. But they expressed it differently:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I just realized something as I was re-reading this post. I remember a time when as a teenager, ready to go out with my friends, I told my dad
I’d finished cleaning the kitchen. He gave it a quick inspection, and I failed — I hadn’t wiped down the counters well enough. Did he get angry? No. He patiently asked me if I really thought I’d done the best job I could do. Of course, I had to answer, “No.”
All he had to say was, “You should always be able to tell yourself you’ve done the best you can do.”
I’ve always remembered that little moment. And just now, it occurred to me that while my dad taught me to do what I knew was the best I could do, my mother taught me to do what others would think was the best I could do. I would say that neither is more right than the other. There’s no getting around that both are important.
As a child, even as a teenager, I sometimes felt I didn’t fit in anywhere because of my mixed race — not on the Caucasian side, and not on the Japanese side. But as an adult, especially in moments when I have such epiphanies, I’m grateful I’ve been lucky enough to learn from two different cultures.