Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Don’t Think Too Much

Rodin - The Thinker

Rodin – The Thinker

Over the last year or so, Chinese people have said this to me so often, especially recently. I’ve heard it twice today. It is beginning to irritate me.

“Don’t think too much”

It comes up in all sorts of contexts.

My dear friend is going away for 18 months. I will miss her. I mention this to someone else.

“Don’t think too much”

Will the Russia-Ukraine thing lead to WW3?

“Don’t think too much.”

Where is that damned plane?

“Don’t think too much.”

What’s for dinner?”

“Don’t think too much.”

It goes on and on. I don’t know where it came from but it is tripping off their tongues like the latest mantra. Clearly something they have learned in their weekly  “political meetings”. The expected litany as handed down from the gods.

Is it really official government policy to advise the population not to think? It wouldn’t surprise me. They don’t want the people to do something they have demonstrated over and over again that they can’t do.

Isn’t it grotesque that schools and colleges are telling their students not to think?

So I keep screaming at them “Think more! Then more! Then more!”

“Then think again!”

And they answer,

“Don’t think too much.”

So sad.

. This entry was posted on Sunday, March 16th, 2014 at 5:35 pm and is filed under Chinese Education, Strawberry Fields, Stupidity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

10 Responses to “Don’t Think Too Much”

  1. noel johnson Says:

    I understand. My understanding stems from (eerily) entirely similar experience. My wife and her family are Liuzhou residents. She tells me, everyday: “Don’t think too much. Don’t worry.” It rings in my ears. Both my wife and I have gone through many brain-related health problems recently. She suffered a stroke, and was treated for over a month at Liuzhou Chinese Traditional Medical Hospital 7th floor. She was diagnosed with “minor” right-brain infarction and “sub-critical” “brain dysfunction”. In communication with her, everyday was prefaced with a litany of “Don’t worry. Don’t think too much.” Here in Lake Effect Land, I’ve been diagnosed with “acute anxiety disorder”, and my (execrable) “Family Practitioner” prescribed a “new atypical antipsychotic” drug, the effect of which – eerily – is to “quiet” brain function. I put the scrip in the shredder. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems there is a close resemblance (in my wife’s mind, at least) between “thinking too much”, “worrying”, and “troubling oneself”. In a nation of chemically altered sheeple, I’m regarded as “CHEE SING”.

  2. David Says:

    Don’t think too much ; isn’t that the proletariats raison d’être ? Just ‘do’ , never question . In china I’m invariably looked at askance if I query the reason why . Probably exposes my bad manners I guess .

  3. Carl Johnson Says:

    My deepest sympathy, Noel!
    My ex-wife (American) has suffered multiple strokes in the last nine months. Although we have been divorced many years we remain best friends. The stress of managing her affairs and seeing her slowly slip away has had very adverse effects on my own health including another heart attack a few months ago. Very hard to cope. No doubt my doctor would love to drug me into oblivion if I let him. A real roller coaster ride. I self medicate with too much beer and Shouting at the Devil! Good luck Sir

  4. noel johnson Says:

    @David: another eerily similar experience. I get it all the time. “Why?” – I think (perhaps, lol, overthink) is regarded as a “childish” question (in the Chinese paradigm)… thus the askance looks. It is inferred that if one is an adult, one must already know the answer to the question.

  5. Carl Johnson Says:

    When ever you make a statement these days in the US it has become very popular for the person you’re speaking with to say ‘You think?’ or less often ‘Do you think?’ Bugs me!
    I usually say ‘All the time! You should try it!’

  6. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    I’m certain this is a deliberate product of the education system.

    I’ve been aware for a very long time that students are not taught to think. In fact they are taught not to think. They just memorise ‘facts’ which they regurgitate in their frequent exams, then forget everything.

    What is required is repetition of what the teacher or textbook says whether that is correct of not. One teacher I know is totally aware that the textbook he uses is riddled with errors, but marks down any student who is actually bright enough to come with the real correct answer.

    What is new, however, is this recent tendency for people to answer everything with the same phrase “Don’t think too much.” It seems clear that they are being taught to say it.


  7. Carl Johnson Says:

    This is so true! But not a new thing.
    I hated math and English in school. Because of the mindless repetition. Only after I left school and entered a field that required triangulation, radial line development and parallel development, did I learn that math can be fun! I had to think!
    To this day I have no idea how to diagram a damned sentence! But I love the nuances of the English language I never learned to appreciate in school!

  8. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    No. There is a difference. Your experience with maths and English was bad teaching. It wasn’t a deliberate attempt to make you hate those subjects and stop thinking.

    Some Chinese students do well. Despite the system not because of it.

    And the stereotypically (racist) idea that all Chinese are great mathematicians is so ridiculous it almost amuses me. They are no better or worse than anyone else. Few of my friends can do basic mental arithmetic never mind clever stuff!

    Try getting a supermarket checkout girl to calculate your change without her computerised till. No chance.

  9. Flight Medic Says:

    The mindset of “Don’t worry, be happy” might be in response to maintaining sanity in the face of so many details over which has no control. If you know the juggernaut will crush you, be happy for as long as you can.

  10. Carl Johnson Says:

    Yeh! I know first hand that all Chinese are not great at math! LOL.
    Funny how that got started?
    I have a several friends who came here from China, Laos, Thailand or Vietnam. They are almost all very successful and very accomplished individuals…Not because they are inherently smarter than Westerners. It’s because they worked their butts off to make it!

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