Nothing is more distinctive than Americans’ disbelief in impossibilities. Every day Americans receive invitations to dream big dreams, and they give the traditional exuberant American answer, “Why not!” In contrast, many Asians believe that things happen as a result of fate: their success or failure in life, work, and marriage is determined by the year, month , date, hour, and place of their birth. Because they believe that their futures were laid out at birth, many people passively accept undesirable conditions rather than try to shape or alter their destinies. Interestingly, in Chinese, the word for destiny consists of two characters. The first, woon, means “dynamic flow,” and the second, myung, means “movement of the absolute.”…. In Korea, where I grew up, I was often reminded of an old Korean saying, “Don’t even look at a tree if you cannot climb it.” We were told that it is a virtue to know one’s limitations….
Due to this cultural orientation, many Asians still believe that their lot was determined by a divine force before they were born. In contrast, Americans are told, “Know your limits and ignore them.” This sky’s-the-limit outlook has enabled them to create one of the world’s wealthiest nations in a very short time. Leaders such as Benjamin Franklin and Horatio Alger encouraged people to pursue wealth through hard work. Universities use Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich as a textbook in classes on American success. Such an atmosphere has produced world-renowned rich people such as Rockefeller, Ford, Du Pont, Carnegie, and Gates. It is not a coincidence that the greatest concentration of wealth is in the United States. SOURCE: Kim, Eun Y. (2001-07-05). Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox Intercultural Press Inc. Kindle Edition.
It is widely accepted that as far as yin/gang is concerned America and Asia are quite different. America is much more yang and Asia yin. The above quote helps us to understand some of those very basic difference. We proudly know that we Americans are just more creative than our Asian counterparts. A big part of that difference is due to the continued caste mentality among many Asian cultures. Being a born and bred American I simply can’t understand how someone could just accept that their place in life is to be a servant because of their birth. I don’t think I, as an American, am unusual in that regard.
Dreaming the big dreams, even though we might never accomplish them, is what keeps us Americans going. At least for some of us”Why Not!” is indeed a basic part of American mentality. But there are some Americans who, like their Asian counterparts, believe that their life is predestined by a heavenly authority. Of course everything is not rosy in the U.S. especially in the last couple decades. Life’s opportunities have skewed very dramatically to the upper end of the economic scale now and there is no end of this in sight in this regard. The middle class is literally disappearing. But still we remain the shining light in the world when it comes to “know your limits and then ignore them”. I, like most Americans are very proud of that fact.