A Harmonious Society from an Unusual Culture Essay

Submitted By HarmonyLynn
Words: 1072
Pages: 5

“There are others I could hate but I feel sorry for my enemies and the enemies of my country” (Butler 1). A statement from the narrator reflecting on his experience in the Vietnam War. Vietnamese culture emphasizes the importance of ancestor worship, family harmony and respect. Vietnamese culture is not widely understood in the United States. It has foundations in Buddhist, Taoism, and Confucian philosophies. Most Vietnamese people were forced out of their country and migrated to the United States of America. The main reason for the migration was the war between the North and the South provinces in Vietnam. Northern communist aggressively recruited new members to reconnect with its former networks in the South bound and determined to unify the country. This force became known as the Viet Cong which led an underground and armed campaign against anyone who did not support the cause of reunification. Vietnam is bordered by the South China Sea on the west and south, China to the north, Laos to the northwest and Cambodia to the southwest. Beautiful sandy paradise type beaches stretch from one end of the country to another. The people are gentle and blessed with an expansive civilization and complex culture due to the influence of so many foreign invasions over the centuries. “The people in our village believe in ghosts” (Butler 3). The narrator confesses while staring at Thap the “new bushman scout” (Butler 3). In Vietnam ghosts are known to take on many different forms. In general it is understood that certain ghosts are people who would have had very painful or violet deaths especially those who died outside the home. The Vietnamese believe these ghosts would roam the earth stealing what they can along the way. “In my village you ran from a ghost because if he wants you he can reach into that chest of yours and pull out not only your heart but your soul as well” (Butler 5). Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism constitute the essence of the traditional Vietnamese culture. In fact, Confucianism became the orthodox ideology for most of the Vietnamese society. Fundamental elements of Confucianism are achieved through ancestor worship and reverence to family. Ancestors are extremely important and rituals most be performed in precise ways to honor them. Misfortune is believed to be a sign of displeasure by the deceased and improper ritual practice. “My grandfather explained about the spirit world how the souls of our ancestors continue to need love and attention and devotion” (Butler 18). The grandfather preached to his granddaughter in the alter room. They are believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and health to a family. American children are open minded to the paranormal, although, mostly grow out of imaginary friends, nightmares and ghost stories by the time puberty arrives. We hinder ourselves in so many ways by accepting what we think is rational and disregard what we believe is not. We view it as the natural progression of growing up.
The Vietnamese value family highly and plays a central role in the culture. Two or three generations can reside within one household. Vietnamese children are taught when they are very young to adhere to the cultural practice of harmony. The father or eldest son is the authority figure of the family. They have the ultimate responsibility to delegate tasks and in decision making. Daughters are expected to defer to men, assist with household chores and to regard marriage as automatic. In Vietnam chastity is strongly emphasized. Once married the woman is expected to depend upon her husband, care for the children and grandchildren, as well as perform all the household duties. Obedience and respect are the traditional values the Vietnamese instill in their children. Children are encouraged to think and to be modest and reserved in both speech and mannerism. Vietnamese children are taught that direct eye contact with authority figures means a challenge and should be avoided. Children will live