Getting Older, Getting BetterWritten by Virginia Bola, PsyD
As baby boomers, we have been spoiled all of our lives. When we were teenagers, world took note because there were so many of us. Our music, our beliefs, our fashions, our styles dominated culture of age. When we took to streets to protest war in Vietnam and to support Civil Rights Movement, we found a ready audience. Television came into its own and we splattered ourselves and our causes across living rooms of America.
For some of us, that was best of times. We were young, idealistic, and na´ve. We truly believed that we were making a difference. We were creating a future of hope, justice, fairness, and peace.
As we move towards retirement age, we look around us with diminished hope, broken promises, reddened eyes, and cynicism. Where is new world order we so desperately sought? In violence-filled streets of Baghdad? In ruins of World Trade Center? In hills of Afghanistan? In political condemnation of gay rights, resistance to a woman's right to control her own body, death of Affirmative Action?
We look back in longing to days before political assassinations turned world upside down. Life was, indeed, so much simpler then. Involvement in revolution is for young and na´ve who, no matter century, no matter nation, no matter cause, see only possibilities and none of difficulties that maintenance of profound social change demands.
Can we keep our ideals alive in muck and mire of reality?
If our ideals are still there, perhaps hidden beneath layers that decades of responsibility, work, fatigue, and need to take care of personal matters have deposited, we can resurrect them. We can revitalize their tenets with bolder judgment and broader understanding wrought by experience and maturity. We can still return to fight we abdicated with demise of Great Society.
1. Political action.
We now know that marching in streets has less of a lasting effect than power of voting booth and closed door deals of professional politicians. Although many have fallen along way, including some of best and brightest, boomers still have tremendous numbers and therefore significant potential political power. As our involvement in work and careers starts to taper off, we can use our newly found time to participate in political process: listening, organizing, contributing, and supporting those who represent that new society we still so desperately seek. For us, infringement of civil liberties generated by Patriot Act and horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay demand that questions be asked, motives revealed, and expected outcomes honestly assessed. We can still throw off conservative shackles of age we have unwittingly donned and re-enter fray: as candidates, as volunteers, as individuals who demand accountability and justice from those in power.
2. Community action.
Supporting and fighting for civil rights no longer requires travel to Deep South nor marching through streets. The struggle now permeates all levels of our society: workplace, schools, churches, home. Community involvement may range from active support, to speaking out, to neighborhood organizing, all in knowledge that our better world starts right outside our front door. Racial profiling, bias against those of Middle Eastern descent, and widely administered wiretaps confront us in our own corner of world. An African-American child in a schoolroom without enough books, without internet access, without afterschool programs, without personal safety and a quiet academic atmosphere, is as cheated of his natural human heritage as his forefather in back of bus. A gay couple denied social and financial benefits of married straights are as much victims of prejudice as their forbears in their proverbial closets. A poor urban neighborhood without basic resources: libraries, museums, music, culture, is as disadvantaged in modern age as in shameful shanty towns of old. We may feel a lack of power to sufficiently effect a national change of direction but in our local communities power is there for taking if we choose to assert our energies and our concerns.
Gifts in Chinese CultureWritten by Wong Yee Lee
Gifts in Chinese Culture
Chinese people have their own culture when it comes to giving friends or relatives presents.
When it is a new-born baby, usually jade or silver bracelet or necklace would be good, particularly ones which can make clinging sound so it will make some noise when baby moves. Alternatively, some children's clothes, shoes or gloves would be good too. When it is an older child, some toys or stationary would be good.
When it comes to some old people, something practical should be considered. A walking-stick, some valuable food such as bird's nests or Chinese mushrooms would be highly welcome.
For those who go to visit their prospective parents-in-law, something more valuable would be an option, such as some good wine or something meaningful.
If it is a family, a vase, some dining sets or pictures would be ideal.
It is not easy to think of something special for every occasion. So very often if it is not of any special visits, some fruits such as apples or oranges would be good enough.
It is important to know that giving someone gifts should not be a one-way business. Courtesy requires reciprocity. The person who receives gift should find a chance in future to return same favour by returning a gift of similar value next time you meet. You can do so simply by either paying a visit with a similar value gift or by inviting friend out for a meal with you paying meal. Don't do it right on next day because it may appear awkward.
There are also some taboos to avoid in Chinese culture. Though modern Chinese don't seem to mind them so much, it is still necessary to know what would be suitable in an occasion.
Books would not be welcome in places like Hong Kong or Macau because pronunciation of 'book' in Cantonese resembles sound of 'loss'. Especially for those people who are frequent players in race course or Mark six, they would definitely not welcome this idea.