The whole world is buzzing about the end of the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and no country more so than Canada. It was the Canadians that won the final gold against the USA in Men’s hockey… and as soon as Sidney Crosby made that final heart-stopping goal in sudden-death overtime, the whole country erupted. Pandemonium broke loose all over the nation awash with red and white. But even throughout the games, the Canadians have been filled with a hearty, welcoming, joyful pride. As a nation that has long been viewed as the underdog to the States, it was Canada’s time to shine. And boy did they ever!
This got me thinking about national pride and about how different countries show it in their own way. The Canadians were rowdy and boisterous. See this Time article that gives Vancouver a gold medal in drinking! In Vancouver, the party never stopped. During the Summer Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese exuded a much more quiet, though equally powerful, pride. Millions of citizens volunteered to be a part of the Beijing Olympic Games, millions others sat in front of screens in parks and city squares rooting for team China, and millions yet waited patiently on the streets for events like the torch relay. The Chinese people radiated pride, though it felt like a controlled simmer. You could see it shining on faces when they talked about it, but it never overflowed in the manner of unrestrained exuberance seen in Vancouver.
But despite their more subdued nature, the Chinese patriotism is something fierce. With a rich 5,000+ years of history filled with constant threats of invasion from the Mongolians to the Japanese to the British, the Chinese have long been forced to bond together and fight as one. Without the steadfast nationalism found in China, the country may have fallen apart long ago. Students are taught at a young age to revere their nation and there is a “Chinese Youth Day” every 4th of May to celebrate the ideas Chinese youth should live by. Said President Hu Jintao during 2009’s Youth Day: “First, I hope you will always uphold the banner of patriotism, as it is the spiritual backbone that has sustained the Chinese nation through all the tribulations.”
It is just that when it comes to expressing this love for their country, the Chinese are extremely modest about it. This is due to the deeply engrained core values of humility and modesty within their culture.
So when comparing the reactions of the Chinese people versus the Canadians during their respective Olympic Games, a third party observer might easily identify with the excitable ballyhoo that were the Canadians. But little would he know that under their calm and poised outer exterior, Chinese hearts beat with an equally (if not more) intense and powerful love for their country.