The Beijing Government is pushing mass exercising again to increase the health of the nation. Mao Ze Dong began mass exercising in the 1950s and many of my Chinese friends grew up doing such exercises in school.
While working at Kingold Group in China, we did mass exercises at 11am and again at 3pm. We did the same exercise everyday and eventually I was able to memorize it and do it without any aides or the need to clumsily mimic others. My Chinese coworkers thought it was hilarious to watch me because I of course wasn’t doing it with natural flow most of them performed with. It was kind of like watching Jay Leno doing a hardcore rap song about rollin’ through the rough part of town.
However, there was some camaraderie that I could feel and it was invigorating to get up in the afternoon and get my blood flowing. Some days I did feel like we were all being magically brainwashed as we moved in unison, but I don’t see how any existing technologies could be brainwashing me in those moments.
Overall, it was a very different cultural experience. I participated and was rewarded with greater trust, deeper friendships, moments of laughter, greater understanding of the benefits of Chinese culture, and I was able to skip the afternoon nodding off that typically happens after eating too large of a lunch.
I think we should be willing to participate in other people’s culture. Try it out. That doesn’t mean we have to try their religious ceremonies and worship other gods if we don’t believe it is the right thing to do. It just means we can try on cultural opportunities for size. We will start to realize that a different culture offers benefits our culture may not offer. We realize that our way doesn’t have to be the only right way. In fact, there might even be something better out there. And even if it turns out that such a cultural activity doesn’t fit us at all, at least we can understand just a little bit more what it means to be Chinese or Russian or French.