Monday, October 12, 2009

Something about independence...

I forgot to explain why I started Dear Minneapolis.
I feel like I have a lot to say but most people don't want to hear it. So, if no one ever reads this, it is genuinely okay with me. I just want to speak less and write more. It's simply easier for me to be vulnerable on paper than in real time. Paper can deteriorate, along with my eraser, and my self-esteem. So this blog saves me wasted ideas, gives me a delete key, and I don't have to see the look on your face when you read what I have to say.

Here is what I just started working on:

"As you grow older you lose a little bit of your confidence... I am very confident in myself but I've lost a little bit of it as I've aged. But I will say that I'm not afraid to ask for help when I need it."
-Margaret, Assisted Living

We work so hard to gain acceptance as young adults it's hard to believe that a confident attitude will deplete with age. I think of other cultures and how sometimes too much confidence is disrespectful, and even in America where a higher confidence level can be conisdered arrogant. I would like to know if maybe there is more to having a high self-esteem. Is a positive overall evaluation of one's self worth better than self-assurance of one's abilites? If we were to have higher self-esteems as we grow into adulthood would we rely less on confidence, and in turn, be happier in old age?

As Americans we are raised to believe that independence is the ideal. For most of us, we are dependent on some sort of guardian for our enitre childhood. School days are spent preparing us to venutre out on our own and do great things, and in adulthood we are expected to stand on our own as soon as 18 years old.

In contrast, Asian cultural belief is that children respect their parents in childhood, they recieve educations, and continue on caring for their parents in adulthood. Many families have sons that live at home and when they wed the wife moves in also. To discontinue care for their family would be the greatest disrespect towards a mother and father. Is this form of dependence more beneficial for the parents as they grow older than a nursing home? Yes. In America is this a realistic practice? No.

I recently heard a story from a young man that moved with his family to the U.S. from an Asian country. He experienced the American culture from 11 years old, including the educational system. In his description it was clear that he was a faltering Buddhist. Raised in the ways of Chinese religion, he was taught mantras by his mother and traditions by his father, this includes the expectation that as a man, the son would care for his mother and father. His parents didn't change when they came to America because they weren't as exposed to the American culture. The young man, however, started secondary schooling, and began to be encompassed by "the American dream". He ended his story expressing his doubt that he would continue on in traditional Buddhist rituals. As an intelligent person, he expressed that he felt there was more to his life than working to give back to his parents. Their dependence on him will eventually be unavailable, and I wonder if they will be able to function on their own when for their whole lives they have been counting on their son's respect. As a minority in a new country, with a new language, and a new life, what will happen to their self-esteem when their son moves out?

How do we fix this problem when the whole existence of American culture is based off of an independent life style? Is it really necessary for an elderly person to regress into a childlike state? After a certain point, it is inevitable, but premature regression could easily inhibit one's ability to self-actualize. Maybe Asian culture is a better example of a way to care for our aging generations. I realize that it is not exactly ideal to be living in a parental home for the rest of a life time, but what about accepting family into our own homes? Generally, as children we are nurtured by some sort of guardian, therefore, it should not be acceptable to disregard any sacrifices made by refusing to make sacrifices of our own.

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