One of the first reactions of all Americans entering China is how dirty everything is. Not just the pollution, but the trash on the ground, the dust everywhere, and the lack of what they feel are necessities in their modern life in America. Their first instinct is to apply tons of hand sanitizer on after every time they touch something. Heaven forbid they forget and spend the afternoon looking everywhere for a new bottle of sanitizer.
But is China really that dirty or is America too clean?
Yes, I admit China is dirty. Even after a year of living here I know how dirty it is, but is that really a bad thing?
Here, children play outside and get normal childhood maladies the way my generation did, by playing in the dirt with their friends and coughing and sneezing on each other. Building up a healthy immune system based on natural contact with things. Sure they might get some odd things like ringworm or hoof and mouth, but so did we, and we are better and stronger for it.
In America, we don’t let our kids get sick, we are giving them immunizations for things like chickenpox, and we have taught them to become paranoid about the big “d” word: dirt. But is that really a healthy thing?
Are we making our children stronger or weaker in this avoidance of natural cycles of things?
Yes, if you get weak-kneed at the site of non-sanitized medicine I don’t recommend that you go to a doctor or hospital in China. I went and honestly it just reminded me of the hospitals where I grew up and what we had when I was in the military in the early 1990s. Long before the expensive paintings and furnishings, when hospitals were there to treat the patient not spoil the family. There is peeling paint and no safety rails. Things that would get a place in America shut down, but here it is not important, the quality of care is. And despite the lack of glove wearing it is rather good, even in the small city I was located.
Being here and seeing the condition of things just reminded me of America in the 1970s and 1980s. Not that it is not modern, it is just not as bleached clean as America is now. And I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.