The Real Diversity

Image by xiSerge from Pixabay

The concept of nuclear family is very much like the English language–they both came from one specific area and one specific group (or several specific groups) of people, and for the last two hundred years or so they have spread to every corner of the world and dominated our life style, thoughts, the way we communicate, and many other aspects of our life.

If you read “The Travels of Marco Polo”, you will find that Marco Polo encountered many different people with very different concepts of families. By the way, the original book itself is very boring and uninteresting and difficult to read. I couldn’t read more than 10 pages of it, but I read two books which tell stories of Marco Polo’s journey and they are both very interesting. As a person of Mongolian descent, I feel that it is my obligation to read books that talk about Mongols whenever I can find them.

To my infinite amusement, Marco Polo disliked every family setting that was not nuclear and not conforming to his standard of correctness. Unfortunately for him, from the vast grassland of Central Asia to the subtropical port of Hangzhou, from the court of Kublai Khan to the mountainous area where Tibetan plateau meets Burma, people behaved in such an unorthodox way that Marco Polo thought most of them should die of shame. I don’t feel like sharing the “wild” details here, but I feel like he was not a fair-minded observer or a well-balanced writer–he was quite biased against those people who were very different from him.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that the world was very diverse before the modern era. However in our modern time, we all subscribe to the same (or similar) family structure, education model, work ethics etc. no matter what our cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, color, gender is.

This is why I am happy that things start to change nowadays. Maybe it is a sign that the world is becoming more diverse and even going back to the diversity of those pre-modern eras. There are more single person households, single parents, same-sex couples, communal living. Last weekend, I’ve watched videos of people in Canada who “live apart together”, meaning they enjoy their relationship but they live in different places. There are also two women in Japan who want to exchange vows to live together, but not as a couple. And in Thailand, a person can get married, and then go back to be a monk (or a nun) living in a temple, and then come back to marriage again.

I am writing about this because I am witnessing somebody who has problem at home for years. She tried separation, divorce, remarrying (same spouse) due to economic concerns. Now she is back with her old problems, trying very hard to make things work even if she knows it is quite hopeless. I wish she can have other options to explore, which are economically viable to her. Back home, she can rely on her own relatives and extended family, but as an immigrant in New Jersey, she has to fight this battle alone.

She is an engineer and she was trained as an engineer in school. I imagine that she rarely took any humanity courses, let alone learning about women’s challenges in life. Anyway, being brought up and trained in the “old school” way, she doesn’t really believe in flexibility and alternatives. She works savagely hard to fit a square peg in a round hole; failing that, she feels the whole thing hopeless and just wants to give up entirely. I think her two approaches are both extreme measures. I think she should look for alternatives and explore other options. But I know it is easier said than done. It is easy for me to say since I am not in her situation.

16 thoughts on “The Real Diversity

  1. I hope she finds what she is looking for. Perhaps a change of scenery can do her good and see if she can work out of New Jersey. She might even like living in Kansas for all we know.

    By the way, my cousin immigrated from India and lives in Oklahoma. He wouldn’t change places for the world!

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    1. Oh, my goodness. I am so glad that he loves it there. I know one guy who told me that his parents lived in a Midwest state and their family is one of the two Asian families in the whole area. I don’t know what their life is like. I mean he is just an acquaintance and I didn’t ask how he coped with it. It is impossible for me to live like that since my childhood trauma will not allow me to do that.

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  2. I’m very happy that things are diversifying too. It’s never a good idea to view anything from just one lens and many things are viewed from an ethnocentric point of view. But it seems things are slowly but surely changing.

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        1. Yes, men can go out to find solaces elsewhere if the family situation is bad, but women don’t have such options. Often women don’t even have the support of her own family since “it is all women’s fault”. I think the presence of social media has really offered women an alternative place to search for information. In some way it is revolutionary.

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        2. Yes, I think a lot of women in bad relationships used to be forced to stay in them but now because of social media they know they have other options.

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  3. My thoughts are the one thing for your friend is finding that circuit breaker so she stops beating herself up. This could be as simple as convincing her (suggesting indirectly) to take 30 minutes out of her day and just reflect over a cup of tea or coffee without any interruptions- it’s amazing what can then pop into your head as a result.

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    1. Yes, she is beating herself up and beating other people up to be the perfect image, which is unreal in the first place. You mean meditation? I think I will suggest to her. LOL. She needs that.

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        1. Yes, that is a great way. Actually I have recently found that I haven’t explored certain aspects of my thoughts and feelings through self reflection only. It is very interesting.

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  4. It’s interesting to look at what happens when money is no object (ie with the very rich). They often have several houses with partners and spouses living apart. Offspring from different marriages will sometimes have big clan gatherings. It’s almost as though this is natural if you remove economic restraints – and the individuals have no mind-forged constraints.

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    1. Yes, you are right. I guess when money is not an issue and people can take as much liberty as possible (still under certain social sanctions I guess), people do have many a series of marriages. I think that’s just what is revealed to us. Probably they also have other secret relationships of varied degrees of unconventionality.


    1. Yes, so true. I often feel that my thoughts are influenced by ambience and other people. For example, one feels quite dizzy whenever one is in a casino. One somehow forgets all the strategies one has memorized.

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