I decided to make use of slow bus rides to learn American history.
It’s embarrassing that my Chinese friends know more about American history than I do, and to make it worse, that I also know almost nothing about Chinese history. Indeed, I didn’t know who Mao was until I was well into college, and just learned since being here that Japan actually occupied China substantially last century. I really don’t know how I missed that, but geez there’s a lot of history that’s pretty darn relevant for what’s going on nowadays that I still don’t know.
But I’m not alone: Americans tend to have a really short attention span and a crappy sense of history. (Read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, seriously good book. And it’s short, in case your attention span is also short.) China seems to have a really long attention span and they care a lot about their history. But now the paradigm is changing, it seems. Where stability and continuity mattered before, progress and evolution seems to be mattering now.