Rebellion or Conformity? An Evaluation of the Two
Throughout life, an individual is faced with many instances of change and reform that he or she can adapt to, rebel against, move beyond, or conform to. Although conforming may be the quickest, safest and easiest route to take, it may not always be what is best. But what is a person to do when everything that he or she came to know and love is morphing into a new, unrecognizable world? I think what it comes down to is a personal choice, a decision that should be made based on an individuals preferences and needs. In The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa and Chen Village Under Mao and Deng, the authors write about times of change and reform in Japan and China, and how individuals of different backgrounds, education levels, and wealth classes cope with and respond to these changes. In Chen Village Under Mao and Deng, a Chinese village experiences great deals of conflict when the government sends a group of representatives called a work team to break down whole structure and set up a new, modern, and stronger government within the village. In Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa, the narrator is a scholar who takes trips to America and Europe as a studier to gain knowledge on their ways of life to help improve Japan. However, at that time Japan was filled with an anti-foreign attitude because the country felt exploited by other more advanced countries and wanted to show that it could industrialize and improve on its own. There are three main reasons why someone would rebel or conform: fear of being persecuted, possibility of gain/loss in status and protection for self or the one’s they love.
In both books, a fear of being persecuted is solely the reason for conforming and adapting to the change. Typically, a sense of power in numbers or strength causes many of those opposing a group to conform. When Yukichi came back home he wrote about how he felt that Western culture could and was helping Japan, but he did not really speak up because of the anti-foreign attitude that was instilled within the minds of the majority of the country. As a matter of fact, he actually feared for his life and states it in this passage: “Until now, this anti-foreign movement had only been something existing in society, separate from my personal life…even some of the merchants engaged in foreign trade closed up their shop for fear of these lawless warriors…I thought if I avoided all dramatic utterances and behaved very cautiously, I should escape the ire of the ronin” (The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa 141-142). The reforms that the country was making towards foreigner tolerance caused many to just go with the flow and join arms. Some did not want to be seen as weak or unchanging. Similarly, many changed their beliefs after being overwhelmed with those who are advocating a certain belief or idea. For example, Yukichi writes about how his friend Murata went back to Choshu and had become a fervent supporter of anti-foreignism. Him and his friends were shocked that their friend- now opposite them- had once held the same views and were puzzled whether he was just pretending to hold that attitude for fear of attack from his clansmen or had converted to the other side due to the heavy influence there (The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa 159). Murata illustrates a person conforming to change for fear of persecution because of the number of people supporting the belief. There are common instances of persecution in Chen Village as well. Many of the villages attitude on 82-83 sum up the how important it was to have power on one’s side: “Peasants and cadres alike did not like being hectored by a band of righteous youngsters. Many of the villagers were not enthusiastic about restraining their personal and family interests in favor of the collective’s. But no one dared criticize directly the sacred messages of Mao thought” (Chen Village Under Mao and Deng). As expressed in this passage, many of the...
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