Amid the turmoil and scandal of the contemporary political world, many eyes are turning toward China as a natural counterbalance to the stumbling United States. The continued growth, both internally and externally in influence, trade, new ports and infrastructure around the world should give pause to any China skeptics still remaining out there. The political situation is far from ideal from the American point of view, but then, so is the American political situation for many of us. China is doing well. Really well.
The opportunity at hand is one of mutual learning and growth. China’s history of harmony as an individual, familial, and societal ideal has much to offer the overly confrontational, uneducated, and individualistic American. Certain freedoms are sacrificed, it is true. But the harmony allows new freedoms to flourish. The harmony facilitates freedom from fear, one of the three principle forms of dana (gift) mentioned in the Pali Canon (alongside the gifts of material goods for monastics and the dharma/teachings for the laity).
It is difficult to calculate the cost of fear in Americans, but it is obvious every day. Fear of the next mass shooting, fear of loss of healthcare, fear of greater political meltdown.
I hope that more people can experience the harmony of Chinese culture in a way that allows them to incorporate the best of it into their lives, East and West. Each summer I take part in the Woodenfish program, which aims to do just this. More like this, in America and China, would be wonderful for promoting a future of harmony in individuals, societies, and around the world.