A Happy Peach

Things that make my heart smile…

Center of the World…

8 Comments

When I was in high school there was another Asian student who said that the term oriental is offensive. Her thinking was the since the term orient refer to “the East” that it meant that Europe was the center of the world. It was Eurocentric and she was having none of it. I understood her logic, but was not quite as incensed. At the time I stopped using the term and when people referred to me as oriental I simply and gently told them that I preferred the term Asian or specifically Chinese, but if they were going to call me anything my preference was Danielle. And as I recall, I really didn’t have too much occasion to do that, as most people did initially use the term Asian. I found that it was the older generation that used the term and I suppose that sort of thinking stayed with them, and they never meant any harm any way. It really was not an issue, but it was something that I remembered and found somewhat interesting.

Years later when I was taking my Mandarin class I found out that China had the exact same mentality. The Chinese character for Zhōng guó is 中 國 and translates into Central Kingdom. The character Zhōng 中 was originally meant to look like a circle, which signified the world, and the line referred to China’s placement on the world as the center.

I tend to think that this sort of phenomenon is not isolated to just Europe and China, I’m sure if I dug a bit I could find proof in a variety of lexicons. I think that most people think of their homeland as the center of the world. So if everyone thinks that where they live is the center of the world, then who’s right? I think we’re all right, although technically under the initial constraints it’s impossible. If you begin thinking that there is a specific center on a sphere then geometrically you have an issue, you’d have to go to the Earth’s core for the proper  physical center and really who wants to do that with all the magma involved. If  you want to pinpoint the center on the surface, it is impossible on a sphere all points which lie of the surface have the same quality. But philosophically I have an answer for you. Your center is specific to you. It is your home, where your loved ones are, where that which is of the most importance to you rests, that’s the center of your world. With this sort of thinking, there isn’t a general center of the world, but an infinite number of points which dot the earth that at any given time can be called the center. My logic is that if I get one so does everyone else.

If you are free of spirit, it may also be an intangible traveling point, it may be wherever you stand. In this way the center of the world is not anchored, but moves around and maybe even grows. This point may seem tethered to the individual, but I assure you it is not. I feel that we share our points, that potentially we have an infinite number of possible points. The best example of this may be during a disaster. When something happens that humankind collectively view as terrible, we can all empathize (have compassion for the sufferers), but if we have a loved one there we are more likely to sympathize (feel as if it were happening to us), and if we are there it becomes an entirely personal experience. To expound my theory let’s apply it on all three levels, empathetically, sympathetically and personally and see how our points are affected. When something tragic happens then the world’s attention is on that place, the center of the world is there. Our thoughts turn to that place as the world in unison turns with compassionate eyes towards the victims, we send a part of our points, but not to the point of personal distraction. If we know someone who lives in the that area and may be in danger more of our attention goes there, we split our point with our loved one (the greater your bond the greater the amount of points you send) and your worry and concern is most likely to the point of distraction. And if we are there and trying to make our way through the tragedy then all our attention is there, our point is there and our loved ones send us their points (we amass a greater amount of points). Ah yes this is all pseudo science made up by me, but you have got to admit there is a bit of truth to it. And while we can never truly measure this (a science is normally qualified when it is quantifiable), it does make you think about how we perceive the world and our place in it.

This is just something I was thinking about. I think blogging and meeting new people from around the world makes me feel like I have new little points all over the world. OK, I think I’ve said points enough for the evening. Points….

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8 thoughts on “Center of the World…

  1. D! 😮 come again?
    It could become a thesis subject! Ya Allah!

    btw are u asian? Reveal yourself unto me O beautiful lady! 😛 So I may seek your hand in marriage. not! 😀 😀 😀

    • LOL :D…I know, it just started with one thought and kind of spiraled out of control into this theorem which could turn into a doctoral thesis. I was thinking of going for a Ph.D., just out of boredom. But I figured that’s not the proper reasoning for getting a doctorate, maybe creating a new psychological reasoning is. Eh, it’s probably not….better slap myself.

      Yup, I’m Asian-ish. I’m actually Chinese with a splash of Venezuelan. So I’m mixed, mixed in so many ways. 😛

      • Danielle’s a platypus, Pervisha, she even blogged about it *wink* This is a very interesting piece, I never thought of “zhongguo” that way although I knew its literal meaning. Nice insight Danielle!

      • Tee hee, the platypus status was stated a few months ago.

        I thought it was funny how most societies feel that way, but when you start to travel and meet new people you realize it’s so vast and so wonderful. Then you completely forget about there being a center.

  2. Brilliant post. I agree with so much of what you said. You’ll be interested to know that there was a huge media battle in Toronto a few years ago when a local politician referred to Asians as “Oriental” and the Asian community took major offence. (“Oriental is a rug, not people.” – Margaret Cho) I sort of got into an argument with another Asian friend about it, as I also wasn’t offended anywhere near as much as everyone else seemed to be. I understand that “Asian” is the acceptable politically correct word and the guy who used the word “Oriental” was ignorant and undereducated. However, “Oriental” is nowhere near as offensive as so many other things I hear being spouted off as truth and social correctness. The sad thing is that it’s possible to educate the ignorant but impossible to change the minds of the wilfully blind.

    • Thanks for your fantastic comment. It also says something about how hurt some of our folks can become over smaller things. I don’t think attacking is the best way to handle it, I think you are right it can be about education being the better path and it’s true that sometimes there are people who want to remain ignorant. I think it’s right to afford each other a certain amount of respect, but at the same time to be incensed over something that doesn’t warrant it just makes us look silly, and when something that is deeply offensive comes along and we make the same level of fuss no one will pay us any mind. It’s a matter of perspective.

      OK, I’ll go with Margaret Cho that “Orient is a rug, not people.”

      • Having said all that, the idiot who said “Oriental” in my earlier comment did deserve to be blasted (the context in which he used the word was ignorant as f*** as well) and he has since apologized publicly, though it’s clear that he’s still confused as to why people are angry. LOL

        Still, in my opinion it’s nowhere near as offensive as the usage of the “N” word and the history and weight it carries. Some people were equating the offensiveness level of both and I was just like, “Um… NO.”

      • Well the N word is just ugliness personified. And I would agree, that while oriental is not preferred, I don’t feel a lot of hatred from it. The N word is all about hate, injustice, and the mistreatment of people because of their skin tone. It’s when hate and moron mix to create this grotesque abomination that is unfortunately part of U.S. history. But sadly there is still racism in the world, at least it’s seen for being negative and not status quo.

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