the weather has been straight crap for the last few days, pouring rain, cold, clammy... in a word: gross. yesterday was a national holiday, 2/28, which remembers the murders of nearly 30,000 taiwanese by the kmt government in 1947. all sparked by a single arrest, the public spoke out against the then corrupt and repressive kuomintang chinese nationalist party... the kmt's response was swift and severe, targeting people of visible importance: doctors, scholars, community leaders.
although this is a very dark day in the taiwanese history, i haven't really noticed much display of it's recognition... some people burning prayer papers in tin buckets on the streets, and little more. i suppose perhaps people here don't feel the pinch quite as much as they used to, and perhaps that has started breeding apathy, much like the effect the social and economic prosperity of the united states has had with it's own populace. for some crazy reason i ate lunch at a mcdonalds today... uchh. walking down the streets, it's surprising to me sometimes how many familiar institutions there are here... starbucks, 7-11, kfc, mcdonalds, mister donut, the list goes on. even if the name or brand is different, the role of the institution is the same. the more i talk to people here, especially the younger generation and most especially the young women, i get a clearer image of just how much this crushing influx of western cultural ideals has begun to rift apart certain aspects of life. one of the most common problems i hear from women here is the frustration they feel with their family over their own independance. it is very much the chinese cultural (or traditional) standpoint that young women should do as they're told, and should make a point of asking their family what they should do when faced with a potential decision. it's not quite so black and white as all that, there are certain levels of subtlety and quiet conformity that are naturally assumed to be understood. I've even met people who's family's have talked of arranged marriages, which seems incredible to me. the conflict occurs when these educated and ever more globally-aware young people decide to follow their own direction and make a stand for themselves... it seems the older generation has very little concept of this desire to be autonomous, and they are confused and confounded by it, seeing it as rebelious and quite unpalatable.
i say if western culture has had any positive influence on the east, great... but i wish those influences could be brought about without the aide of mcdonalds; i feel like i've eaten a pound of greasy clay.