It is sometimes difficult for many people to understand just how different the Eastern cultures are from the Western. It isn’t only that the values are different, it’s also the base concepts that those values are built upon.
If we step back for a moment and look at the West and the Middle East, we know that much of what we are seeing comes from a Biblical backdrop. Some are from the Old Testament, some if from the New and some is a mixture of both and other things thrown in. The real basis though, is the Old Testament, what we think of as ancient scripture. The East does not have this foundation.
In the last published novel of the Senses series, Synesthesia, this is brought out a few times. When the next novel is finished and published, you will see it far more clearly.
Without a Biblical foundation, what then is Asian culture built on? Plainly put, it’s a mixture of animism, ancestor worship and human paganism. The Eastern cultures have worshiped nature, those ancients that have gone before them and their own emperors. Today, animism, Buddhism, and atheism all are in the mix.
The problem is that without an ancient code like the Ten Commandments the culture developed in a radically different way. ‘Face,’ or what we might think of as stature is one of the most important aspects of Asian life. Truth is secondary to Face. I am not trying to tell you that all Asians are liars, I am saying that many, not all, when faced with the predicament of losing Face or telling a falsehood, they will lie.
People in the West lie. They do it all of the time. The difference is that they are not doing it because it is built into the culture. I’m also not saying that the Asian cultures are evil, just different.
When Pontius asked, “What is truth?” of Christ, it is wise to take it in its full context. Pilate was coming from a culture that worshiped a pantheon of deities, he thought that the Jews were odd for only having a single God. If you have multiple gods, then truth can easily be something variable. After all, there were so many contradictions between the acts of the gods themselves that complicated stories had to be created to explain them.
Today, most of the laws in the West are grounded in the original Ten Commandments. According to Wikipedia, “The current legal infrastructure in the People's Republic of China reflects influences from the German-based civil law, English-based common law in Hong Kong, Soviet-influenced Socialist law, United States-style banking and securities law, and traditional Chinese law.”
In the past, this was obviously not the case. Basically, the emperors and those that he assigned as judges held the ultimate power. The judges played an active role in investigations and were not just arbiters of justice. There have been many ‘codes of laws’ throughout Asian history and culture.
I do not believe that we will see an end to the culture war in my lifetime or even the next generation. There is too much of a psychological difference to overcome. The best we can hope for is to try to understand and work with each other.