Ken Boddie

1 year ago · 5 min. reading time · ~100 ·

Ken blog
East or West, What's Best?

East or West, What's Best?

TT LY JUN) ren Lah LL

Photo 1: Looking East over the Gold Coast

Photo 2: Looking West into the Setting Sun

Introductory Geographic Lesson

I was tidying up some photographic files from a couple of years back, when I came across these two landscape pics.

I took them from two lookout spots, both on the flat plateau which is Mt Tamborine, just south of Brisbane in South-East Queensland. The locations are within a couple of kilometres of each other and the shots were taken within an hour or so of each other. The first one (Photo 1) looks directly east, following a late afternoon storm, which passed quickly overhead, down across the coastal plain on which the famous Gold Coast strip is located, then out to sea. The second (Photo 2) looks west towards the setting sun, across the Gold Coast Hinterland and the remnants of a huge 40km wide caldera or collapsed volcano.

During post processing I was prompted to think about the similarities and extremes of East and West; not just literally, as depicted by the points of the compass and the contents within each frame, but in the more general context of society, culture and their foundation philosophies.

Looking in Both Directions

Both shots have similarities at a brief overview. They both show dramatic skies above a varied and interesting landscape, with extremes of bright light and dark shade. But the details revealed in each frame are quite different and varied. How so then the similarities and differences between Eastern and Western philosophies and cultures?

Over my career of too many decades, I have been fortunate enough to both travel to and work in a variety of lands which I have sorted into three groups as follows:

  • countries which are located within the birthplace or neighbouring influence of Eastern philosophy (eg China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka);
  • countries where Western philosophy developed and spread (eg Greece, Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany, Scandinavia); and
  • countries where there has been a historic clash and/or merging of Eastern and Western cultures, either in past or recent times, or both (eg Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Arabian Gulf States, North Africa, Turkey, Singapore and Hong Kong).

A Dose of Idealism

Many idealists have suggested that perhaps the human race is tending towards a uniformity of cultures and thinking, and that we are losing our individuality of self and heritage, in a huge melting pot of common tastes and convergence.

Perhaps, given enough time, hard work and inspiration, the melting pot may become reality. But not before we have learned to look after each other (by merging the 'haves' and 'have nots'); to look after our planet, to enable it to continue to sustain us; so that we can eventually learn how to provide ample food and clean drinking water for our surviving generations.

But, until we have progressed towards thinking macroscopically in terms of the human race, rather than limiting our needs and wants as relatively microscopic entities, then perhaps we should think about the well documented origins and workings of the main philosophies, East and West, which have formed what is more often a clash than a merging of cultures.

What are our Differences?

Here is a fool's guide to some of the origins, components and constituents of Eastern and Western Philosophies, which can be verified by a myriad of 'Googled' papers, each presenting remarkably similar results. 

Firstly, let's summarise Western Philosophy:

  • Developed by the ancient Greeks and then spread to other Europeans, and eventually to their colonies.
  • Has its roots in science and rationale, with heavy use of logic, reasoning and categorisation, focusing on parts rather than the whole.
  • Individually oriented, with self at the centre, being your 'own person', independent from the universe and society.
  • Materialistic goals.
  • Strives to find and prove the truth by analysis. If it can't be explained and proven it doesn't exist.
  • Individual rights.

Compare then Eastern Philosophy:

  • Developed in ancient China and India, spreading throughout Asia. 
  • Has its roots in religion (e.g. Confucianism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga) and does not distinguish between philosophy and religion, unifying ideas into a greater whole.
  • Group and society oriented, looking at the bigger picture, with the individual a small part of a greater ideal.
  • Spiritual goals.
  • Strives for harmony (yin and yang) with an inherent acceptance and without a need to prove.
  • Social responsibility. 

So What Can We Learn from Each Other?

With such radically different cultural bases, and following the flimsy argument that "opposites attract" rather than "let's knock the stuffing out of each other", wouldn't we expect that there may be lessons to be learned on both sides of the geographical divide? Having been brought up under the individualistic and materialistic influences of Western Society, I can see interesting and attractive benefits associated with eastern attitudes of harmony rather than conflict, society rather than self, and the setting of spiritual rather than materialistic goals. But what about the benefits of Western Society from an Eastern perspective? Are there any, or has the West merely corrupted Eastern minds into seeking an individual materialist middle class existence, with all its throw-away toys, pollutants and self indulgence?

What Do You Think?

Am I and my future generations heading towards a melting pot, or am I and mine heading off in different directions?

Do I live in a fortress or a commune?

Do I shoulder social responsibility or walk the path of self advancement?

Do I have the choice of tap, still or sparkling?

Do I have to carry water on my head for four kilometres from the nearest well?

Am I bored of home cooked meals and eat out to break the boredom?

Am I happy to eat the same meagre staple diet, day in, day out?

Are my biceps toned?

Are my children dying of curable diseases?

Do I .....?

Do You .....?

or Should We .....?


This post was originally published on the platform in 2016 and featured 39 comments from many (then active) readers, writers and participants who have since moved onto other pastures (greener or otherwise).  The original post was somewhat corrupted, however, during a platform upgrade, and hence I am re-posting it now. I was inspired to repair and republish this oldie when reading this recent post by my friend @Greg Rolfe , 

I still miss the days when there were so many of us writing and commenting on multiple posts here on beBee, and the platform was abuzz with feverish activity.


When not researching the weird or the wonderful, the comical or the cultured, the sinful or the serious, I chase my creative side, the results of which can be seen as selected photographs of my travels on my website at: 

The author of the above, Ken Boddie, besides being a sometime poet and occasional writer, is an enthusiastic photographer, rarely leisure-travelling without his Canon, and loves to interact with other like-minded people with diverse interests.

Ken's three day work week (part time commitment) as a consulting engineer allows him to follow his photography interests, and to plan trips to an ever increasing list of countries and places of scenic beauty and cultural diversity.


Life Lessons

Ken Boddie

8 months ago #33

#33    Looks like you got the picture, @Javier 🐝 CR Interesting goal to get everyone to embrace our differences and stop bombing each other. 

Let's see if I understood anything:

The world we live in is a fascinating place, with diverse cultures, beliefs, and philosophies that have developed over centuries. As we stand on a mountaintop and look out at the East and West, we can see both similarities and differences. In terms of philosophy and culture, there are significant differences between the East and West, but perhaps there are also lessons to be learned on both sides of the divide.

Western philosophy is rooted in science and rationale, with heavy use of logic, reasoning, and categorization, focusing on parts rather than the whole. It is individually oriented, with the self at the center, and has materialistic goals. Western philosophy strives to find and prove the truth by analysis and emphasizes individual rights.

Eastern philosophy, on the other hand, has its roots in religion and does not distinguish between philosophy and religion, unifying ideas into a greater whole. It is group and society-oriented, looking at the bigger picture, with the individual as a small part of a greater ideal. Eastern philosophy strives for harmony with an inherent acceptance and without a need to prove. It emphasizes social responsibility and has spiritual goals.

Given these differences, there are interesting and attractive benefits associated with Eastern attitudes of harmony rather than conflict, society rather than self, and the setting of spiritual rather than materialistic goals. However, it is also essential to acknowledge the benefits of Western society from an Eastern perspective. Perhaps the West has merely corrupted Eastern minds into seeking an individual materialist middle-class existence, with all its throw-away toys, pollutants, and self-indulgence.

As we ponder these differences, we must ask ourselves where we are heading as individuals and as a society. Are we heading towards a melting pot or off in different directions? Are we living in fortresses or communes? Do we shoulder social responsibility or walk the path of self-advancement? Do we have the luxury of choice, or are we forced to carry water on our heads for kilometers from the nearest well? Are we bored of home-cooked meals and eat out to break the monotony, or are we happy to eat the same meager staple diet day in and day out?

It is essential to acknowledge that there are stark differences between the East and West, and there are valuable lessons to be learned on both sides of the divide. As we move forward as a global society, we must strive to find a balance between individualism and collectivism, materialism and spirituality, and self-advancement and social responsibility. Only by acknowledging and embracing our differences can we learn from one another and work towards a brighter future for all.

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

1 year ago #31

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #30

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #28

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

1 year ago #27

#7 I hear you @Javier 🐝 CR and have always, will always support you since our beBee days. I just missed some of the most valuable comments on the comments box - because that's where the real conversation happens. I sometimes go back to posts 5 years old to remininse. I guess it would have been nice to email the users before the terminate account decision was taken but then again it's in the past -  done and dusted. No problemo I will try too drag Savvy back here sometime soon. 

PS @Ken Boddie I just spurted out my coffee 🤣 Because the minute I think about driving the wrong way up a busy one-way street Dubai will fine me or probably throw me in jail - Fine is upto 3000 dirhams or more like 500 to 800 dollars - Thankfully I don't drive in Dubai YET. 

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #26

#26  @Lisa Vanderburg 

I don’t know about “taming” my cousins ‘up over’, your Grace, but I wouldn’t be a leader in Londinium, the noo, for quids. Seems to me you’ve caught that Aussie poli syndrome … the prime ministerial revolving door. BTW here’s a tip from one ‘ashes‘ nation to another. If you want old Rishi to last more than a few weeks, make sure he wears a pair of big gloves. That way you know you’ve got a ‘keeper’. 😂🤣😂

Lisa Vanderburg

1 year ago #25

Damn…I've forgotten how to work this. @Ken Boddie …(that was an accident)!

But, when I read those: 'Are my biceps toned?

Are my children dying of curable diseases?'

I knew where I was! Great to see you, King of Kaleidoscopes! So wonderful to see you're still taming us palid northerners! 

Pascal Derrien

1 year ago #24

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #23

Pascal Derrien

1 year ago #22

nothing new on the western front springs to mind for some reason 

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #21

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #20

#18 Absolutely, planned communication before, during, and after is what was and is needed to better manage change. In the US, not all those in leadership positions were and are on the same page which further widens the gap evoking fear and rebellion. Countries need good leadership and not politicians. 

Lada 🏡 Prkic

1 year ago #18

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #17

Thanks, @Lada 🏡 Prkic , @Franci 🐝Eugenia Hoffman and @Javier 🐝 CR for contributing your observations and interpretation to the East vs West conundrum, and to Franci for providing a succinct summary in #17. Javier’s comment in #16, on the success of some Asian countries in controlling the epidemic, got me thinking about Australia. Here, our strict border controls, enforced home and other quarantines, high levels of vaccination and mask wearing, were successfully adopted by the majority, despite our natural kick-back, as an individualistic nation, against what could be perceived by some as enforced indoctrination. What undoubtedly assisted in getting most of the people of Oz to eventually accept the need to act for the greater good, was the increased level of communication to manage the essential changes. We had regular (at least twice a day) advice and explanation from our various state and federal medical officers and selected specialist epidemiologists on our TVs and radios. Perhaps this planned communication, before, during and after, is a takeaway lesson for our business communities and enterprises, worldwide, to better manage change?

@Lada 🏡 Prkic and @Ken Boddie -Lada - I agree the melting pot should be about embracing multiculturalism, and also (Ken) I agree that diversity and sustainability are no longer mere benefits of successful species growth, but requirements for our survival.

I see the problem being is there is no transparency and people are not being brought along. Change just happens with no explanation and sometimes no rationale. Sorry to say, but much of the human race is ignorant and become rebellious, also with no common sense or rationale. It's a vicious cycle. Generations of mindsets are not going to change overnight and I agree with @Javier 🐝 CR's comment “In contrast, in a country that values individualism, people tend to worry more about how the crisis will affect their professional and personal development."

And @Ken Boddie nailed it with “Herein lies the challenge, as change sometimes requires tough decisions to be made and, as has been stated many times before, we can only make some of the people happy some of the time, and there's little likelihood of keeping all of the people happy all of the time”

This is a great discussion and thank you, Ken, for bringing your 2016 article back to life.

The fact that the East, in general, tends to favor the community over the individual and to value the collective over the particular may have helped countries such as China, South Korea and Japan to respond more effectively to the pandemic than Western countries, where the triumph of individual freedoms and individual liberties may be overrated.


Distancing as a restriction of rights
As part of this individualism-collectivism dichotomy, social distancing and prosocial attitudes have been perceived differently in the East and the West. In the West, strict measures of social distancing have sometimes been perceived as a restriction of people's rights and freedoms.

In Asian culture, people tend to see themselves as part of a group. They are willing to sacrifice their individual and personal benefits for the welfare of the group. There, group collaboration is of utmost importance to achieve certain goals and objectives. In contrast, in a country that values individualism, people tend to worry more about how the crisis will affect their professional and personal development, for example.

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #14

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #13

Lada 🏡 Prkic

1 year ago #12

I believe we are heading towards a melting pot. But the question is how we understand it. Is a melting pot understood as merging but not losing identity and cultural tradition, or is it, in fact, assimilation? 
For me, the melting pot should be about embracing multiculturalism. But many in the west fear that the Western way may disappear by embracing different cultural values, traditions, and lifestyles. 

@Javier 🐝 CR - follow your dreams and keep on keepin' on.

I've noticed a lull in several sm sites including WordPress. Personally, this crazy world is distracting and I find it difficult to focus. I still write poetry on WordPress because it eases my mind. No politics and no religion - just poems. 

Things change and people change and as we all know, change will always be. beBee and WordPress will always be my favorite sites. LI is dull and full of political junk and I don't frequent other sm sites except for Twitter, which I use only to promote my blog. I enjoy Poetry sites such as PoetrySoup and Spillwords Press, again to promote my poetry.

So rock on, BeBee!

The most dangerous phrase in the language is, “We’ve always done it this way!” Grace Hopper

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #9

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #8

What is East or West home is the best? => Home is the best or most ideal place to be, regardless of its physical location

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

1 year ago #5

I hear you @Ken Boddie those were golden days of pure conversations.I think many amazing people left for many of the known reasons. I myself could not log onto the platform for a very long-time and have lost many of the valuable comments on some of blog posts and if you remember @savvy raj her account does not even exist now. We had met in Dubai this year and were reminiscing about the good old days. I now only visit once in a blue moon to read whenever I can and catch up with some of my favourites writers such as like yourself. As for East vs West, I agree that some of us are now capable of learning and thinking lol. 😆 It all boils down to the choices we make and to ensure we don't fall into the trap of conformity. 

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #4

#3 #1

@Jerry Fletcher and @Renée  🐝 Cormier I see that you both also lament the old days when this platform was new and when intensive interaction clearly separated us from the other SM platforms. I wonder why so many former active participants disappeared? Was it frustration with requested changes either not being addressed or taking too long, was it the rise of alternative platforms, or was it the increased distractions of changing times, whereby our attention spans have been diminished and information overload has decreased our capability, or even willingness, to read and then comment? As for East vs West, I like to think we are capable of absorbing the best of both philosophies without coming to blows. 

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #3

Greg Rolfe

1 year ago #2

Thank you for reposting this!  I appreciate your perspective and considered thoughts.

Jerry Fletcher

1 year ago #1

Ken, I, too miss the days when this site was rife with convivial commentary.

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