The East is East and the West is West! Neither is better nor worse than the other. The philosophies and beliefs are not really absolute in this day and age of cosmopolitan living. But, if truth be told, variations do exist even though in unpredictable proportions. It’s the way of looking at life that by and large differs. For the purpose of clarity, it has been assumed that Asia, including Middle East, depicts the Eastern world while Europe and North America form the Western world. Here is a list of top 10 differences between Eastern and Western Cultures that show a few broad demarcations between them.
In the eastern cultures, the leader assumes supreme status. He has a great bearing on the general public. This comes from the fact that in eastern cultures a technically greater man is often elevated to God-like status irrespective of his worth. While in the western cultures, the concept of equality is taken more seriously and a leader is just one among the rest. He is not looked as above and over the general public.
The relationships in the eastern cultures are family centric. Couples for example need to pass through family approvals before taking the step towards something as personal and important as marriage. This is also one of the reasons why arranged marriages are still very much pertinent to the eastern societies. In the western civilization, the self is given preference over family and hence decisions on priority and relevance of relationships are of the individual. This is infact one of the major differences between eastern and western cultures.
The Western world takes time out for travelling as an indispensable part of their lives. Vacations are days that are looked forward to in that part of the world. While holidays are awaited as much eagerly by those living in the Eastern world, too, the luxury of taking one depends very much on the work place approvals, nature of the individuals and mindset of the society. Often it is years before a long break is taken by people in these countries. Perhaps it is something to do with the slogging and laboring mindset pertinent in the east.
The individual is given more worth in the western society, while it is the community and the family that tops the list in the eastern society. Both has its sets of pros and cons as the importance given to family forms a support system always available in times of need; the same might not be present to those in the west. However, the vital decisions of one’s life are often forced on an individual by the family or community in the east while this is hardly ever the case in the west.
Religion in the eastern society is given more importance than perhaps in the west. The importance of religion in the east can be gauged by the events related to religion that still stir societies in this part of the world. To this day there are riots and killings in the name of faith. Although religion is a very much existent concept in the west, it has not been stretched to the extent of intolerance like in the east.
The idea of independence in its true context exists only in the western culture. In the east, independence comes with “ifs” and “buts” or laden with various other conditions. No individual can be truly independent in the east where the bond with the family precedes anything related to the self. Something as basic as children moving out of the parents’ house after a certain age which is very much common and sanctioned in the western culture is seen as blasphemous to family in the east.
In the east women are still regarded as those who would sacrifice professional life and career in favour of rearing children (yes, just like cattle) and taking care of the family. This is one of the psyches of the East that is not prevalent in the West. A female in the west is free to decide her priorities and something as basic as when to marry or even bear children. The same luxury or right has to be fought for and often not granted to the women in the East.
The West is known for its openness and the ease with which several topics are discussed across generations. Discussing something as basic and important as child birth or sex is still a taboo in the East while that is done with much candour in the West. The lack of openness and conservative outlook is in fact one of the hurdles in making sex education a must in the East while the same proceeds almost without any hindrance in the West.
When it comes to attitude, the West could be thought of as analytical and detailed. The focus on the problem at hand and arrive at an outcome based of the pros and cons of that particular problem. The East, however, is known for its holistic view. The preference of the latter is to come to a well-rounded and all-inclusive solution which applies across the table.
It has been seen that more often than not the people from the East are rigid in their ideologies and beliefs. For them the truth is what has been there for thousands of years and not to be challenged irrespective of its fading validity in modern times. However, things are looked from a rational perspective in the West, and decisions and actions are not emotionally driven.