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 The Perfect European should be......

         In Column 02 (April) "The Ideal Life", I talked about Lin Yu-tang's speech "The Chinese and the British". Illustrating the commonalities and differences between the citizens of these two countries, he identified the sense of humor as a common feature of the two countries with a positive attitude. Here I would like to introduce an example of the British humor.

         These are some postcards sold in London that describe the characteristics of "the perfect European". If we only look at the words on the postcards, we get the idea that "the perfect European" is someone

who is good at cooking like a British, who has a good driving manner like a French, who is always available like a Belgian, who is as talkative as a Finnish, who is as humorous as a German, who is as technical as a Portuguese, who is as flexible as a Swedish, who is as famous as a Luxembourger, who is as patient as an Austrian, who is as controlled as an Italian, who is as sober as the Irish, who is as organized as a Greek, and who is as discreet as a Danish.

         Of course, what is said on the postcards is totally opposite to the reality. That is why it is humorous. The British are famous for poor cooking skills, which can be read from the menu on the postcard ("Boiled Cabbage", "Boiled Meat", etc.). The French harshly joke, "the British try to cover their poor cooking with eating manner." But in fact, A? tastes great, and the roast beef prepared by old pubs is extraordinarily delicious. Fresh oyster is also terrific. However, the British daily menu is very simple. For Asian people who are used to rich daily meals, it is obvious that the British meals are unattractive.
         The French drive recklessly. It is commonly recognized that not only western countries but Asian countries as well are pretty "liberal" in terms of traffic regulations. The Japanese are well known for strictly following the rules wherever they go. The Belgians are negligent. It seems that they like to go out and have fun. The Finnish are reticent. Even in Japan, there is a saying that those who live in the cold areas are dumb. The Portuguese are poor at technology. They would really hit the keyboard with a hammer following the computer instruction "Hit any key"! The Swedish are inflexible. The woman in the postcard is holding a book "Massage Rules". She keeps doing the massage according to the instructions regardless of the fact that the other person's body has got entangled. Luxembourg is a tiny country. Not many people know where it is in Europe. Even among the Europeans, there are few that know about its location. The Austrians are cranky and irritable. The Italians make a big noise everywhere. The Irish like drinking. The Spanish are arrogant and haughty. The Dutch are stingy. The Greeks are inefficient. The Danish are imprudent. The man in the postcard puts porn photographs inside his coat and shows them to a woman on the street!
         In conclusion, the postcards have created some shocking effects with humorous description of the national characters of various European countries. The exaggeration surely provokes some objections. However, haven't we got some hints from these postcards?
         Located in the some region "Europe", these countries can even be considered as close as relatives. However, they have their own histories, and their values and lifestyles vary. With a deep understanding of both the good and bad aspects of various national characters and cultures, these countries manage to build a harmonious relationship on the basis of embracing commonalities and differences. They are showing to us how Japan should deal with its relationship with other Asian countries.
         Surprisingly, we know little about our neighbor nations. Think about Lin Yu-tang's argument on the commonality between the Chinese and the British in terms of their sense of humor (I absolutely agree with his viewpoint). Can we still say that Japan and China, both of which are not only Asian countries but belong to the Chinese cultural circle, are culturally different?

                     Translated by Ying Zhang(Center for Women's Studies University of Cincinnati, USA)



00 The Ethics of Retaliation-Do You Have Revengeful Thoughts?
01 Chinese Familism (1)-Law and Family
02 The Ideal Life--Men's Happiness and Misfortune
03 Law-governance --The Consistency between Title and Meaning
04 Mistake --Motive and Result