Colonialism around the world:An insight on Colliding Perspectives of Colonialism
Colonialism has been marked through history, written about on paper, and depicted in movies. In modern times, Colonialism is describes as a policy of gaining full or partial control over a country, occupying it with new settlers, and exploiting the country economically. However, the debate over Colonialism is much broader than good or bad. We will look at the complexity of Colonialism in terms of being cultural absolutist and cultural relativist. Today’s traditions, attitudes, and the overall perception that one has on life and how life should be lived has been formed through the past centuries of Colonialism. We will be examining the correlation between Gladys Aylward, The Little Woman and Chinua Achebe’s, Things Fall Apart and their distinctive perception on Colonialism along with relating perspectives from other authors.
Gladys Aylward The Little Woman is an autobiography about her life journey. Aylward depicts herself as a young British missionary who believes in colonialism and hold her faith closely to her. With her faith, she travels to China to teach people about the Christian God and how he helps to save lives. While doing so, Aylward encountered many substantial hardships such as people who oppose war, God, communist, and being poor. Although Aylward encountered those circumstances, she pushed forward with her faith in God and proceeded to convert people to colonialism.Overall Aylward’s objective was to help change people’s live for the better through Christianity and colonialism.
Alyward is an Anti-Cultural Relativist and goes to prove this in several actions within the book. In chapter 7 Aylward meets a woman called Mrs. Ching who is a mistress in China. Mrs. Ching was bought by her husband who also happens to be her master and is under his demands. Aylward had become in contact with Mrs. Ching and had noticed that Mrs. Ching was cruel to little girls by making them bind their feet. In China foot binding is a cultural practice and is seen as a sign of beauty all over China. Aylward opposed footbinding and had explained to Mrs. Ching that footbinding is dangerous and did not have to force the girls to do it. Aylward then began to explain that in the Christian religion you do not have to practice foot binding to be accepted by society. Later on in the book Aylward had traveled further to convert a prison and the people who occupied it into Christians. Aylward believed that the practice of treating prisoners like they were not people was immoral and should be changed. The people of China believed that prison was a place where criminals were supposed to be and because they are criminals they could not have basic human rights. Aylward had stayed at the prison several months to change the cultural practice of being cruel to prisoners. Aylward constantly taught Christianity and how God could help better the prisoners lives and make them better people. Aylward emphasized that in one year the prisoner’s attitude had changed for the better compared to when the government had been running the prison for 5 years with no change in the prisoner’s attitude. Aylward claimed that it was the Christian God who helped to revolutionize the change that happened in the prison. Aylward opposed the cultural practices of footbinding and the bad treatment of the prisoners so she preached God to change the culture of the societies in China for what she might call their best interest. In conclusion, Aylward practiced being a cultural absolutist by going to China and converting people to her faith of Christianity because she believed that practicing Christianity and preaching the Christian God was the only way to live life.
Gladys Aylward’s, The Little Woman correlates with James Rachels, “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism” in the sense that both believe in being cultural absolutist. Rachel argues that being a cultural relativist interferes with the natural way of life. Rachel states the right way to live life is to live life like how it has been lived through the past centuries. Rachel proves being cultural absolutist in section 2.3 THe Cultural Differences Argument. In this section Rachel uses the example how the Greeks believed that eating their dead peers was wrong as to where the Callatian believed it was right to eat their deceased peers. Rachel then states that neither consuming the dead or not eating them was wrong because it all came down to a matter of their society and their opinion. Rachel exemplified that both sides were neither right or wrong because every society has their own value system and it was wrong for both societies to interfere with one another. Rachel and Aylward both relate in the sense that both believe there is only one way to live life correctly, thus making them cultural absolutist.