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Why do displays of compassion differ between East and West?

June 14, 2008
I am trying to understand

A bit more: “In many Asian countries, favors invariably create obligations, which is perhaps why people are sometimes disinclined to interfere in the problems of others. You are obliged to take care of your family, your friends, or even your fellow countrymen. But the idea of universal charity is too abstract, and smacks of the kind of unwelcome interference that Western imperialists — and the Christian missionaries who followed them — practiced in the East for too long.

The notion of “Asian values,” promoted mostly by Singaporean official scribes, was partly a critique of universalist Western claims. Asians, according to this theory, have their own values, which include thrift, deference to authority, the sacrifice of individual to collective interests, and the belief that countries should not stick their noses into others’ affairs. Hence, the hesitant response of Southeast Asian governments — and public opinion — to the Burmese disaster.”

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clipped from
Why are French, British and American warships, but not Chinese or Malaysian warships, sitting near the Burmese coast loaded with food and other necessities for the victims of Cyclone Nargis?

Why has the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) been so slow and weak in its response to a natural calamity that ravaged one of its own members?

are Europeans and Americans simply more compassionate than Asians?
Given the West’s record of horrendous warfare and often brutal imperialism, this seems unlikely

Buddhism stresses compassion and mercy as much as Christianity does. Indifference to suffering is not inherent to any Asian culture.

there may be cultural differences in understanding how compassion should be applied
The ideal of universal equality and rights does owe something to the history of Western civilization
There is, so far, no Asia-wide institution to protect the human rights of Asians, let alone mankind
In many Asian countries, favors invariably create obligations
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