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….