The most-talked about “Nut Rage” in South Korea about an airline heiress who supposedly delayed a flight after throwing a tantrum about being served macadamia nuts in a packet and not in a bowl. Apparently, after throwing her weight around, the heiress asked that the purser be kicked off the plane, which in turn made the pilot turn the plane back to the departure gate. Vilified by media and ordinary folks on the Net, the heiress supposedly visited the homes of the aggrieved airline staff to apologize to no avail.
The father and CEO of the airline then had to issue a public apology to the rest of the country calling his daughter’s behavior foolish. It is also written that at a press conference, the esteemed CEO bowed to those present and was quoted as saying: “I am sorry for causing such trouble. I feel as if I have taught her wrong. Blame me for everything; it is all my fault. I am sorry, I have raised my child wrong. Regardless of the outcome of her investigation, she will be stepping down from all and any position she is currently in.”
Such father’s actions speak so clearly about how Eastern cultures, including Filipinos, consider that the failures of children reflect a familial and shared responsibility by parents and the entire family. Hence, a son’s or daughter’s shame is one shared by everyone in the family. In social psychology and cross-cultural research, such a perspective is one we have come to know as a collectivist cultural perspective.
In collectivist cultures, characteristic of most East Asians, particularly the Japanese and Koreans, one’s sense of self is intertwined or interdependent with one’s familial identity. In the collectivist culture, the emphasis is on family and work group goals above individual needs or desires.
Perhaps not many people realize that our closest cultural ties with our East Asian neighbors lie most in our common values for family and social harmony. Among Filipino families, we often hear of so many narratives about how many sacrifice a lifetime working abroad for one’s children or siblings. It is in an almost selfless desire to succeed with success measured as one’s ability to provide for his family’s needs. Then too, one’s goals are often sacrificed in consideration of others’ welfare.
In contrast, individualistic cultures, mostly associated with Westerners, emphasize personal achievement even at the expense of group goals. Research has pointed that in this culture, a strong sense of competition is imbued.
In fact, children are encouraged to be independent and self-subsistent even in their late teens. Hence, it wasn’t at all surprising to read the news in the US about an estranged daughter suing her parents in court to reimburse her college tuition. Such lawsuit would not even make it to any court in Eastern countries for that matter.
The “Nut Rage” in South Korea does make one recognize the sense of responsibility and obligation that most of us Filipinos and our Asian neighbors accept as part of our culture, our psyche. To make others understand why a father ought to apologize for his daughter’s foolish deeds may be moot in other contexts.
After all, the Korean father’s actions are an inherent consequence of the value put on family and the collective reputation cared for.
Perhaps, it is in appreciating the familial and collectivist ethos Filipinos thrive in that we will also grasp the unique sensibilities innate in our very own culture.