Inclusive mind is crucial for social progress
hat is it about our clothes that other people seem unable to resist? Is dressing like us about wanting to be like us? Clearly, this is about more than just clothes. It is about embracing an entire popular culture that extends through music and movies, to say nothing of the soft drinks and fast food.” This is what Niall Ferguson says in his book, Civilization: TheWest and the Rest, about howWestern values with industrial power behind them have been embraced by the rest of the world over the past more than one century.
While talking aboutWestern values, we Chinese can never deny or ignore that, without learning from theWest, China would not have become what it is now— the second-largest economy in the world.
So when Yuan Guiren, minister of education, said on Friday that textbooks disseminatingWestern values should never be allowed in our classrooms, he should have anticipated how strongly people, intellectuals in particular, would react.
Anachronism is what first came to my mind after reading his remarks.
Behind theWestern values are an industry characterized by modern machines and the preceding inventions that brought about revolutionary changes in people’s lives. As for clothes, it would have been impossible forWestern suits and dresses to become popular all over the world without the development of the modern textile industry and the sewing machine invented by Isaac Singer in the United States.
The same is true of the label “made in China,” which would not have been popular across the world without the reform and opening-up that were launched more than three decades ago.
Of course, not all things that representWestern values are good; most of the soft drinks, for example. But the modern appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, microwave ovens and air conditioners that make our life convenient are alsoWestern inventions. Modern education is also from theWest.
If we don’t like the word “West” or “Western”, we can call them the development of human civilization. But how do we resist the things or ideas that make our life easier and make the world a better place?
As far asWestern political systems are concerned, we can say it does not suit us and we should have a political system of our own. But there is no need to point fingers at a particular kind of political system or that of a particular country.
We often say China’s political system best suits China’s reality. What we need to do is to continuously improve it and make it capable of solving practical problems the country faces in achieving its goal of providing its people with a prosperous and glorious culture.
President Xi Jinping said at a meeting with foreigner experts working in China inMay 2014 that China should always be ready to learn from all countries irrespective of how advanced it becomes. China will increase exchanges and communications with all countries with a more inclusive mind to further open up to the rest of the world, he said.
What is an inclusive mind? An inclusive mind should never stick labels of “West” or “East” on ideas or things that are beneficial to China’s economic and social development. Rather we should consider them as part of human civilization from which we can draw inspiration to progress on our path to prosperity.
Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of China’s reform and opening-up, said in 1992 that it is meaningless to bother about capitalism or socialism as long as it benefits the productivity of our socialist economy, boosts the comprehensive strength of our socialist country and improves the living standards of our people.
It is the result of such an inclusive mind that China has become what it is today. The author is a senior writer with China Daily. email@example.com