By Eun Y Kim, "The Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox."

Eun Kim

A well-known Asian American author of The Yin and Yang of American Culture a Paradox, Eun Kim delves into the Asian concept of Yin and Yang in order to demystify the American vices and virtues in a complementary way and convey to her audience an all-balanced cosmic harmony while still preserving cultural diversity (Kim 5).

A Platform of Interactive Understanding

Despite the author’s contentious points, the manner that ancient Asian traditions complement modern American ideas is an excellent example of coexistence. Kim establishes a platform of interactive understanding by handling the Ying elements that mirror the American virtue and keenly demystifying the yang factors which broadly are a reflection of the vices in the American culture (Kim 34).

Ying Factors and Yan Elements

Generosity, volunteerism, openness, as well as competitive spirit, are some of the Ying factors Kim discusses, whereas the Yan elements entail the habit of individuals are accustomed to claiming personal rights at the expense of the majority, arrogance, inability to appreciate maturity as well as tolerance of violence practices. The author uses scholarly insight, personal wisdom, American culture, Asian traditions, as well as vivid life experiences to take her audience on a literary carve that reveals more about the two cultures, with every other paragraph challenging the American norms to the edge and immediately alternates with a soothing argument that demystifies the American admirable virtues. Therefore, other than revealing the paradox in the yin themes Kim utilizes, it is as well essential to relate the same to both the American and the Asian culture.

Paradox of Expectation of a Comfortable Life

Among the many themes that are evidenced as Yin factors in the work by Kim, one of them is the paradox of expectation of a comfortable life. It is important to appreciate that diversity is real and that different societies have diverse ways of doing things (Kim 76). What might seem offensive in one community could be very virtuous in other parts of the world. Therefore, interaction with the Asians and Americans is such an example, whereby some of the norms held as morally upright in the American society come out as unusually out of place in the Asian world. However, appreciating human diversity in itself is a good lesson to learn from this experience the author exposes her audience too. Coexisting only becomes possible when compromise takes center stage of what is important for the involved partners, and hence the awareness of the need to giving room for others to exercise their value, even though this could not be perfectly expressed at all times. A good analogy to help comprehend and appreciate this argument is by assuming that between white and black or day and night, there is some gray or partial darkness respectively. As such, either way, the paradoxical arguments present with some level of reality for both the American and the Asian culture, which when compromised could deliver some tangible truth for a better outcome (Kim 144). Therefore, an expectation of natural life is a subject of discussion and entirely dependent of the pertinent prudence.

Never Slowing Down

Secondly, the theme of never slowing down is also the yin that Kim explains about the virtuous part of Americans. People in America are exposed as over-enthusiastic, as is argued about by Kim. Whereas in Asian countries people count personal failure or success as fate, in America, one has no option but to make it in life. Depending on the day an individual was born, raised up, the place of birth, or season, among many variations to one’s life, the Asians could allege in most cases that the fate of one’s life to these factors. However, in America, every individual has to embody the American dream, whether an immigrant or a native, they have to go for a better life, as it is a common belief that if one puts in the effort, he can always emerge as an achiever. As such, the Americans are often future-oriented, money-focused, and result enthusiastic (Kim 22). On the contrary, Kim outlines that values and ethical morals are given more attention than personal achievements in Asia. Everybody knows and embraces what is morally upright, and the issues of question one’s rights, freedoms, and independence at the expense of the family, group, or community is never welcome. Nevertheless, on critical analysis, the author to some extent was inclined toward imposing the Asian culture on the American psychology, which is not practical. It is a fact that the US culture and the Asian traditions are both independent and distinct, hence the certain expectation in the variations thereof. As such, how the American urban life is characterized as very different from the Asian norms in similar geographical setting, and perhaps this speaks volumes about the relatively high rate of economic gains made in the US as opposed to Asia.

Lack of Loyalty

On the other hand, the theme of lack of loyalty is paradoxically expressed in the Kim's Yin candidly. Americans as opposed to their Asian counterparts, value friendship, meaning in openness, attach value to goodwill, and so much embrace warm relations. This phenomenon cuts across all American culture, whether immigrants of the natives. This is one of the virtuous elements highlighted that perhaps serves to satisfy the American ego, the global citizenry and such an accommodative culture (Kim 201). Indeed, globalization plays a central role here because all religions, races, gender, culture, and other human diversities call America home.

American Ironies

What seems to be reality could better be taken for the American ironies in the book when Kim analyzes issues of social and political segments which mirror the interpersonal relationships. To some degree, it appears like the author is interested in justifying the Asian culture as expressly perfect and somehow creates an atmosphere that suggests that Americans could better be placed had they been similar to Asians in traditions, beliefs, and their way of doing things (Kim 49). If this is applied in real life, perhaps controversy is very inevitable. However, for the sake of paradoxical analysis, it is very intriguing how Kim goes into details to perfectly expose the depth of differences in Asian and American customs. Nevertheless, it is a reality when Kim argues that Americans value openness and they often have a concern when infringements are made on people's freedoms and personal spaces, hence the dignity they accord to all individuals whether young or old.

Paradox of Prejudice

Finally, the yin of prejudice is broadly examined by the author, in the guest to making diversity in culture more understandable. Different dimensions in the American and Asian societies are embraced to portray the conceptualization of culture as inherently paradoxical in a multifaceted approach. On scrutiny, the American and Asian culture have individual ironies which have been teamed together to reveal a contradictory yet holistic, complementary, reinforced, self-efficient, and dialectical setup. The American entitlements and the Asian insight about the issues of social contention are primarily a manifestation of how every society is independent of each other but interrelated, based on how the norms have been shaped over centuries by the external technological, political, social, as well as cultural factors.

Works Cited

Kim, Eun Y. “Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox.” 2001: 1–232. Print.

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