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Safe at What Cost?

Safe at What Cost?

I am intrigued by other societies and am curious about how they operate, what their customs are and how they survive in an ever-changing world. One example is the culture and people of China. I am stunned at how a massive population of nearly one and a half billion can function properly and emerge to become one of the world’s superpowers. During this pandemic, I have been watching China closely, as they are on the verge of beating this virus, which only four months ago crippled their society. Many of you heard about the hospitals they erected in only six days. We all stood in awe and were amazed at how such a thing was possible. The main reason for the success of this nation is the way in which their culture respects each other, the state and the system they live under. This fast moving machine has been very successful in achieving many wonderful results, but at what cost? Privacy and the ability to be an individual appear to have suffered during the past 100 years, as the government pushed the country into the modern age. Their recent approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic made me wonder if their methods are perhaps better than I expected. As soon as they announced the lockdown, everyone embraced it in a way a child does when they are sick and isolated to a bedroom. People expect the government to lead them, and consequently they follow willingly. In our culture we immediately see that as an infringement on our rights of freedom. There is a word in Chinese called Kwio and it refers to a child who listens to his or her parents. Chinese people are considered Kwio and look to the government for leadership. They expect the government to make the decisions for them and they willingly obey. If big brother says this has to be done, then it has to be done, and that differentiates Chinese culture from our Western ways. Chinese people are willing to give up certain, what we see as, benefits. For example, they are very proud of their payment system. You can go anywhere in the country and pay for something with your mobile phone, using face scanning. Of course it is a breach of privacy, but the Chinese do not have an issue with that. We would not be happy if that system were introduced. Currently, every citizen in China has to download an app and enter their personal information. The app tracks where you have been, and if you visit a recently opened mall, the guard at the door scans the app to see where you have been in the past two weeks. Our mentality considers that horrific and a tremendous invasion of privacy, but Chinese people see it as being better people, and being safer because of it. I am, of course, a big believer in individual privacy and the ability to speak freely, but must admit, in a pandemic, such as the one we are in the midst of now. Which system is better? Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, published author, award winning photographer and keynote speaker. Watch his new show ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’ on Rogers TV, the Standard online and YouTube.

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