In Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner, who coined the term ‘multiple intelligences’, tells us what qualities will define successful people of the near future. Only those with Respectful Minds, the ability to transcend identifying only with our immediate kind, will be able to establish the trust and common cause necessary for success in the global village. A person with a Respectful Mind “offers the benefit of the doubt to all human beings. As much as possible, she avoids thinking in group terms.”
A great exercise in cultivating the Respectful Mind lies in turning a contemplative eye to China. Could the most populous country, and by many accounts most monolithic, also be one of the most diverse? Could each of those 1.3 – however – many billion really be a unique world unto herself?
For practice material, we refer you to The Chinese, an exhibition running at the Paris-Beijing Photo Gallery from July 18th to September 12th. Two Swiss photographers, Mathias Brascler and Monika Fischer, spent the year before the Olympic Games traveling the length and breadth of China, thirty provinces, seeking always the individuality in the common.
Captured in portrait form, each subject is placed against a stylized background symbolizing his niche in the Middle Kingdom. Not a one of the odd two score subjects reminds you of another. Not a one is flashing the obligatory ‘victory’ sign. And not a one fails to reveal a unique soul, worthy of respect, sparkling behind dark eyes.
A young acrobat from Wuqiao
Xinmin, truck mechanic from Liaoning
Su Zhenglin, Shanxi coal miner
Prostitute from Shenzhen
Beggar from Shenzhen
Tibetan family from Qinghai’s Kunlun Mountains
Plastic recycler from Guiyang
Oil field worker from Daqing, Heilonjiang
Professional Chiang Kai Shek actor
More info on the exhibition and the Paris Beijing Photo Gallery