Narcissus' Echo

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Asian Pride

While browsing through a forum, I stumbled into a flame war over an issue not too different from the Dawn Yang fiasco: the target was being derided for "not being proud that he's Asian (Chinese)." I must admit that I fail to understand this peculiar brand of tribalism that has been going around--and is going around still. Why must one be proud of being Asian or Chinese? In fact, why be proud at all?

If we were to take a Christian stance, pride is not only one of the seven deadly sins, but greatest among them. One should be modest, even humble. Even if one were to reject this religious stance, then, of all the things to choose, why be proud of something that is not the result of one's achievements? Being proud that one is Asian or Chinese is like saying one is proud that he or she has four fingers and an opposing thumb, or that one can imbibe, sweat and excrete--hardly achievements. Asian Pride, White Pride, Black Power, Klingon Pride, Vulcan Pride, Wookie Pride... anymore?

One is born into a culture; one came into the culture, and, as such, there is nothing to be proud of. The fact that one is born into an Asian (or Chinese) household or society is not the result of one's choosing or actions. To go about beating one's chest and trumpeting an event that was really beyond one's control or choice is ludicrous. Does one go to the zoo and shout, "Human Pride!" to the monkeys, zebras and elephants?

I suppose I could teach my dog, "Dog Pride." After all, he was born a dog, and the canine family, Canis familiaris, is a large and extensive family with a long history to be proud of (they are the descendants of the mighty wolves, Canis lupus). After my dog learns to type, he will go on the internet and accuse other dogs who had their ears cropped of "selling out" with plastic surgery, and trying to look like cats.

If you were to succumb to pride, then at least be proud of your own achievements, and not something that was handed to you, or that you came into.

Dean Karnazes has reason to be proud: among his many feats of superhuman endurance, he ran 350 miles (560 km) in 80 hours and 44 minutes, non-stop. (And some folks complain about 2.4 km / 1.5 miles...)

Greg LeMond has reason to be proud: despite being shot in the back and legs by his brother-in-law with a shotgun during a hunting accident, he put in two long and painful years of recuperation to stage a comeback to win the Tour de France two more times.

Lance Armstrong has reason to be proud: after chemotherapy for a malignant form of testicular cancer (which metastasized to his brain and lungs), he returned to win the Tour de France seven times.

Professor Stephen Hawking has reason to be proud: despite suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which has confined him to a wheelchair and robbed his powers of speech, he is one of the leading authorities on astrophysics.

What did you do?

Oh yes, you were born Asian.

Let's hear it for Asian Pride.



Anonymous agnostic said...

There are some who take pride in their ethnicity alone, but don't forget about those who are proud of what has been inculcated from very early on in their lives. These positives were not something they were born with.

11:10 PM  

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