As a child, I had disdain toward my father for the way he treated me. Our family did not and still does not epitomize the ideal, happy-go-lucky nuclear family structure that I’d like to establish. However, amidst the dysfunctions and tears illuminates a glimmer of hope, a blessing in disguise.
His no nonsense ways of rearing me, albeit creating a dysfunctional family atmosphere, molded me into someone who understands that you are not entitled anything – something many American suburbanites couldn’t grasp.
“Your feelings hold no bearing on the reality.”
My father was a no nonsense man. He tolerated no excuses, and had very little patience for degeneracy. If I had the audacity to make excuses, he had no problem beating me and telling me that my excuses and feelings didn’t matter unless those remarks held legitimate weight. Granted, those beatings were not life threatening, but they were painful enough for me, who also had the intellectual capacity, to figure things out eventually.
“Your life is not entitled an arbitrary value of worth.”
My father had no filter and expressed no sympathy for the death of those he deemed worthless. I could not conceive the merit of that remark until I began looking at it from an economic value. Just like how inflation or quantitative easing depreciates the value of a currency, population crisis in PRC depreciates the base value of Chinese lives. If one commoner dies, it imprints no significant dent on the rest.
Having grown up during Cultural Revolution, my father understood that life went on even if one of his friends were killed off. However, he turned that around and noted the exponential benefits and risks of standing out by working hard. That required perseverance, and many people didn’t have the heart to practice it.
Accomplishing such task required agency, and those without it were not deemed worthy and bore no value to him. This mentality was prevalent among the Chinese. Realizing this pattern after observing a large sample size of people reinforced the fact that equality, be it in intellect or human worth, is a myth.
“With agency, you can change your value.”
Piggybacking on the previous lesson, acknowledging that human worth is not inherent, given, or static (!) has its advantages. It motivates us to defy our current vices and to improve. One’s value is dynamic, meaning it is moldable for better or worse. Because he internalized early on the notion that we were the disposable bunch with no inherent value, he constantly reminded me to avoid bad influences and to not surround myself with those who try to undermine my growth potential. This ranged from the way I communicate to the individuals I hang out with. I, too, was a disposable Chinese girl.
I sometimes wonder if the cause of millennials’ entitlement complex stemmed from the Participation Trophy Upbringing Method where everyone was told they are winners and leaders? Though counterintuitive and borderline Darwinistic, telling children that their worth as human beings must be earned may be the only way for children to appreciate the value of their worth. If there is one thing you will not hear from me, it is my hysterically demanding you to sympathize with my failures.
My father was not the best father out there. His parenting style certainly wasn’t the for the weak. I wouldn’t even want my husband to deliver these words of wisdom to my son the same way my own father did. One must be willing to remove the human layer of social interaction to be able to look beyond his, almost Spartan, method. Because I had the intellectual capability to look beyond superficial beatings, I was able to see through the rough edges and appreciate the benefit I reaped from his no, nonsense technique.
It really is a blessing in disguise for those who have the sheer will to endure it and reflect back.