蔡美儿:成功人士的品质 为何欧美华裔移民子女更成功的一种解释

这篇文章提出的关于犹太、华人、印度等族裔美国人为何教育和事业上成功比例更高的三大原因,很有道理。

其中“不安全感”的同义词就是“恐惧”。从中共国来到荷兰后发现自己作为中共国人和洋人最大的心理差异,就是总是充满各种恐惧感。无论来自共匪的 作恶,还是对学业、事业、上司态度、社会关系的不稳定的恐惧。也就是中共国人是被“吓大”的,这是非常符合事实的,所以才有这个俗语。

其中“至上情结”也许更贴切的表述是“出人头地情结”,就是认为应该努力表现杰出而高人一等,甚至骑在别人头上。在中共国人的教育经历中,学习成 绩好的学生就可以鄙视成绩差的学生,而很少会去主动帮助他们提高,就是这种心态的体现。乃至到多年后同学聚会时,原先的优秀生还试图在温情叙旧中 遮掩着自己鄙视先前成绩差的学生的心态,而用“惊叹”其超越自己的成功来表达出来。中共国社会中,认为学习或工作差的人天生应该低人一等。

洋人或者华人经常将华人的成功归功于儒家重视教育的传统。这是部分事实。另一半更重要的事实是,这种重视教育的动力,是为了出人头地,衣锦还乡, 炫耀成功和财富,“吃得苦中苦,方为人上人”,和几千年的科举制度能获取“功名利禄”和缙绅阶层的免税特权直接有关。就如如今美国很多最杰出的人 才,都跑到华尔街去发财而导致金融领域的教育变得极为热门,是同样的道理。

http://cn.nytimes.com/opinion/20140130/c30chua/
Opinion
What Drives Success?
By AMY CHUA and JED RUBENFELD January 30, 2014
观点
成功人士的品质
蔡美儿, 贾德·鲁本菲尔德 2014年01月30日

A SEEMINGLY un-American fact about America today is that for some groups, much more than others, upward mobility and the American dream are alive and well. It may be taboo to say it, but certain ethnic, religious and national-origin groups are doing strikingly better than Americans overall.

今天,一个表面看来违反美国精神的美国现实是,向上的流动性和美国梦,对一些群体的真实性和有效性,要远远超过另一些群体。这么说也许触犯了禁 忌,不过,某些人种、宗教信徒和民族出身的群体,比一般美国人活得显然要好得多。

Indian-Americans earn almost double the national figure (roughly $90,000 per year in median household income versus $50,000). Iranian-, Lebanese- and Chinese-Americans are also top-earners. In the last 30 years, Mormons have become leaders of corporate America, holding top positions in many of America’s most recognizable companies. These facts don’t make some groups “better” than others, and material success cannot be equated with a well-lived life. But willful blindness to facts is never a good policy.

印度裔的收入几乎是全美平均状况的两倍(印度裔家庭的年收入中位数约为9万美元,而全美家庭的中位数为5万美元)。伊朗裔、黎巴嫩裔和华裔也属高 收入群体。在过去30年里,摩尔门教(Mormon,旧译摩门教)信徒已成为美国商界的领军人物,在许多最知名的美国公司里担任最高职务。这些事 实并非表明一些族群比其他人“更优越”,物质的成功也不等于美好的生活。但话说回来,一厢情愿地无视事实,从来都行不通。

Jewish success is the most historically fraught and the most broad-based. Although Jews make up only about 2 percent of the United States’ adult population, they account for a third of the current Supreme Court; over two-thirds of Tony Award-winning lyricists and composers; and about a third of American Nobel laureates.

历史上,犹太人的成功史最为源远流长、覆盖面也最广。尽管犹太人口只占美国成年人口比重的2%左右,他们却占据了美国最高法院(Supreme Court)目前三分之一的大法官席位,贡献了逾三分之二的托尼奖(Tony Award)最佳词曲作者得主,以及约三分之一的诺贝尔奖美国得主。

Ji Lee

The most comforting explanation of these facts is that they are mere artifacts of class — rich parents passing on advantages to their children — or of immigrants arriving in this country with high skill and education levels. Important as these factors are, they explain only a small part of the picture.

这些事实最令人舒心的解释是,这只是阶层分化的人为产物——富裕的双亲把优势都传给了自己的子女——又或者,抵达美国的移民有着高超的技能和优越 的教育水平。虽然这些因素相当重要,可是它们只能对此类现象做出一小部分的解释。

Today’s wealthy Mormon businessmen often started from humble origins. Although India and China send the most immigrants to the United States through employment-based channels, almost half of all Indian immigrants and over half of Chinese immigrants do not enter the country under those criteria. Many are poor and poorly educated. Comprehensive data published by the Russell Sage Foundation in 2013 showed that the children of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese immigrants experienced exceptional upward mobility regardless of their parents’ socioeconomic or educational background.

如今家财万贯的摩尔门教商人常常出身卑微。尽管印度和中国是通过与就业相关的渠道把大部分移民送入美国的,然而,有将近一半的印度移民和过半数的 华人移民,是在不符合上述条件的情况下来到这里的。许多人都是穷人,没受过什么教育。罗素·赛奇基金会(Russell Sage Foundation)2013年公布的综合数据显示,无论父母的社会经济背景或教育背景如何,华人、韩国和越南移民的子女,都获得了异乎寻常的向上流动 性。

Take New York City’s selective public high schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, which are major Ivy League feeders. For the 2013 school year, Stuyvesant High School offered admission, based solely on a standardized entrance exam, to nine black students, 24 Hispanics, 177 whites and 620 Asians. Among the Asians of Chinese origin, many are the children of restaurant workers and other working-class immigrants.

以纽约市百里挑一的公立中学史垈文森高中(Stuyvesant)和布朗克斯科学高中(Bronx Science)为例。这两所学校都是常春藤联盟的生源大户。在2013学年,史垈文森高中以标准化入学考试为唯一标准,录取了九名黑人学生、24名西语 裔学生、177名白人学生和620名亚裔学生。在华人出身的亚裔学生中,有许多人的父母是在餐馆等地打工的工人阶层移民。

Merely stating the fact that certain groups do better than others — as measured by income, test scores and so on — is enough to provoke a firestorm in America today, and even charges of racism. The irony is that the facts actually debunk racial stereotypes.

光是说特定族群比其他人表现更好——通过收入和考试成绩等方面来衡量——就足以在今天的美国掀起狂风巨浪,甚至还可能会受到种族主义的指控。讽刺 的是,事实其实拆穿了人们对种族的成见。

There are some black and Hispanic groups in America that far outperform some white and Asian groups. Immigrants from many West Indian and African countries, such as Jamaica, Ghana, and Haiti, are climbing America’s higher education ladder, but perhaps the most prominent are Nigerians. Nigerians make up less than 1 percent of the black population in the United States, yet in 2013 nearly one-quarter of the black students at Harvard Business School were of Nigerian ancestry; over a fourth of Nigerian-Americans have a graduate or professional degree, as compared with only about 11 percent of whites.

在美国,有些黑人和西语裔群体的表现比部分白人和亚裔群体优秀很多。许多来自牙买加、加纳和海地等西印度群岛和非洲国家的移民都在攀登美国高等教 育的阶梯,但其中表现最突出的或许是尼日利亚裔人口。尼日利亚后裔在美国黑人总人口中所占的比例还不到1%,但在2013年,哈佛商学院 (Harvard Business School)有将近四分之一的黑人学生都具有尼日利亚血统;超过四分之一的尼日利亚裔美国人都有硕博或专业学位,而拥有同等学位的白人只有大约11%。

Cuban-Americans in Miami rose in one generation from widespread penury to relative affluence. By 1990, United States-born Cuban children — whose parents had arrived as exiles, many with practically nothing — were twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to earn over $50,000 a year. All three Hispanic United States senators are Cuban-Americans.

仅仅在一代人的时间里,迈阿密的古巴裔美国人就从普遍贫穷发展到了相对富裕。到了1990年,出生在美国的古巴裔儿童——他们的父辈是作为流亡人 士来到美国的,其中很多基本一文不名——每年能挣5万美元以上的几率是非西语裔白人的两倍。三名西语裔联邦参议员都是古巴裔。

Meanwhile, some Asian-American groups — Cambodian- and Hmong-Americans, for example — are among the poorest in the country, as are some predominantly white communities in central Appalachia.

同时,一些亚裔群体——例如柬埔寨和赫蒙族后裔——在美国属于最贫穷的阶层,中阿巴拉契亚地区的一些白人占绝对多数的社区也如此。

MOST fundamentally, groups rise and fall over time. The fortunes of WASP elites have been declining for decades. In 1960, second-generation Greek-Americans reportedly had the second-highest income of any census-tracked group. Group success in America often tends to dissipate after two generations. Thus while Asian-American kids overall had SAT scores 143 points above average in 2012 — including a 63-point edge over whites — a 2005 study of over 20,000 adolescents found that third-generation Asian-American students performed no better academically than white students.

最根本的是,每个族群都会随着时间流逝而起起落落。数十年来,盎格鲁撒克逊白人新教徒(White Anglo-Saxon Protestant,简称WASP)精英的运势一直在衰退。1960年,第二代希腊裔美国人的收入据称在所有接受调查的人群中位列第二。某个族裔在美国 所取得的成功往往会在两代人以后消失。所以,虽然2012年亚裔学生的总体SAT成绩比平均水平高143分,比白人高63分,但2005年的一项 研究对2万多名青少年进行了调查,结果发现,第三代亚裔学生的学术表现并不比白人学生更好。

The fact that groups rise and fall this way punctures the whole idea of “model minorities” or that groups succeed because of innate, biological differences. Rather, there are cultural forces at work.

这些群体如此起起落落的事实反驳了“模范少数族裔”的全部理念,以及认为他们的成功是因为先天生物差异的看法。实际上,是文化力量在起作用。

It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.

事实证明,尽管存在各种差异,如今在美国社会非常成功的族群都有三大利于成功的法宝。首先是至上情结,即深信自己卓尔不群。第二点似乎刚好相反, 是缺乏安全感,也就是觉得自己或自己的所作所为还不够好的那种感觉。第三则是自我控制。

Any individual, from any background, can have what we call this Triple Package of traits. But research shows that some groups are instilling them more frequently than others, and that they are enjoying greater success.

来自任何背景的任何个人都可能拥有我们所说的这三大法宝。但研究表明,部分群体表现出这些品质的可能性更高,所以他们所取得的成就也更大。

It’s odd to think of people feeling simultaneously superior and insecure. Yet it’s precisely this unstable combination that generates drive: a chip on the shoulder, a goading need to prove oneself. Add impulse control — the ability to resist temptation — and the result is people who systematically sacrifice present gratification in pursuit of future attainment.

说人既认为高人一等,又缺乏安全感,这的确有点奇怪。然而,正是由于这种不稳定的结合,才使人们产生了动力:与生俱来的自卑感,以及证明自己的迫 切感。再加上自控能力——即抵御诱惑的能力——结果就是,一直系统性地牺牲当前满足感的人,将来会如愿以偿地得到自己想要的东西。

Ironically, each element of the Triple Package violates a core tenet of contemporary American thinking.

具有讽刺意味的是,这三大法宝中的每一条都违背了当代美式思维的核心原则。

We know that group superiority claims are specious and dangerous, yet every one of America’s most successful groups tells itself that it’s exceptional in a deep sense. Mormons believe they are “gods in embryo” placed on earth to lead the world to salvation; they see themselves, in the historian Claudia L. Bushman’s words, as “an island of morality in a sea of moral decay.” Middle East experts and many Iranians explicitly refer to a Persian “superiority complex.” At their first Passover Seders, most Jewish children hear that Jews are the “chosen” people; later they may be taught that Jews are a moral people, a people of law and intellect, a people of survivors.

我们知道,种族至上的说法既虚无又危险,然而美国最成功的每个族群都认为自己非同凡响。摩尔门教徒自认为是地球上“胚胎形态的神”,要带领世界走 向救赎。用历史学家克劳迪娅·L·布什曼(Claudia L. Bushman)的话说,他们认为自己是“道德腐化之海上的一座道德孤岛”。中东问题专家和许多伊朗人曾明确地指出,波斯人具有“至上情结”。大多数犹太 儿童在他们的第一次逾越节家宴上就会听说,犹太人是“神的选民”;随后,可能会有人告诉他们,犹太人是一个有道德、崇尚法治和智慧的民族,是一群 幸存者。

That insecurity should be a lever of success is another anathema in American culture. Feelings of inadequacy are cause for concern or even therapy; parents deliberately instilling insecurity in their children is almost unthinkable. Yet insecurity runs deep in every one of America’s rising groups; and consciously or unconsciously, they tend to instill it in their children.

缺乏安全感竟然是成功的一大要素,这在美国文化中又是一件令人生厌的事。力不从心之感往往会引发担心,甚至成为接受心理治疗的理由,而家长故意在 孩子心中植入不安全感几乎是无法想象的。然而,这种不安却深深植根于美国每个成功群体的心中;而且他们还会有意无意地把它安到子女身上。

A central finding in a study of more than 5,000 immigrants’ children led by the sociologist Rubén G. Rumbaut was how frequently the kids felt “motivated to achieve” because of an acute sense of obligation to redeem their parents’ sacrifices. Numerous studies, including in-depth field work conducted by the Harvard sociologist Vivian S. Louie, reveal Chinese immigrant parents frequently imposing exorbitant academic expectations on their children (“Why only a 99?”), making them feel that “family honor” depends on their success.

社会学家鲁文·G·朗博(Rubén G. Rumbaut)牵头进行的针对5000多名移民子女的研究有一项主要发现,孩子们之所以觉得“要有所成就”是因为他们时常强烈地感觉到,自己有义务回报 父母所做的牺牲。包括哈佛社会学家维维安·S·路易(Vivian S. Louie)所进行的深入的实地工作在内的大量研究显示,华人移民父母经常会对子女的学业寄予厚望(“为什么只考了99分?”),让孩子们觉得“家族荣 誉”维系于自己的成功。

By contrast, white American parents have been found to be more focused on building children’s social skills and self-esteem. There’s an ocean of difference between “You’re amazing. Mommy and Daddy never want you to worry about a thing” and “If you don’t do well at school, you’ll let down the family and end up a bum on the streets.” In a study of thousands of high school students, Asian-American students reported the lowest self-esteem of any racial group, even as they racked up the highest grades.

相反地,研究发现,美国白人父母则更注重培养孩子的社交技能和自尊。“你真棒。爸爸妈妈永远不希望你为任何事而烦恼”和“如果你成绩不好,就会让 家人失望,最后会流落街头”这两种说法存在巨大的差异。在对数千名高中生进行研究后发现,亚裔学生的自尊心在所有族裔中是最低的,尽管他们的学习 成绩最好。

Moreover, being an outsider in a society — and America’s most successful groups are all outsiders in one way or another — is a source of insecurity in itself. Immigrants worry about whether they can survive in a strange land, often communicating a sense of life’s precariousness to their children. Hence the common credo: They can take away your home or business, but never your education, so study harder. Newcomers and religious minorities may face derision or hostility. Cubans fleeing to Miami after Fidel Castro’s takeover reported seeing signs reading “No dogs, no Cubans” on apartment buildings. During the 2012 election cycle, Mormons had to hear Mitt Romney’s clean-cut sons described as “creepy” in the media. In combination with a superiority complex, the feeling of being underestimated or scorned can be a powerful motivator.

不仅如此,身为社会里的外来者,这本身就是不安全感的一个源泉,而美国最成功的族群都是某种形式上的外来者。移民们担心,自己是否能在陌生的土地 上生存下去,常常会和子女交流生活中的不安。因此,普遍的信条是:他们能夺走你的家园或生意,可是夺不走你所受的教育,所以,更刻苦地学习吧。后 来者和宗教少数群体可能会面临嘲笑或敌意。据报道,在菲德尔·卡斯特罗(Fidel Castro)接掌政权后逃到迈阿密的古巴人,在公寓楼上看到了写着“古巴人与狗不得入内”的标志牌。在2012年的选举周期,摩尔门教徒一定听说了米 特·罗姆尼(Mitt Romney)整洁体面的儿子们被媒体说成“瘆人”的报道。被看扁或鄙视的感受和至上情结混合在一起,可以成为强大的驱动力。

Finally, impulse control runs against the grain of contemporary culture as well. Countless books and feel-good movies extol the virtue of living in the here and now, and people who control their impulses don’t live in the moment. The dominant culture is fearful of spoiling children’s happiness with excessive restraints or demands. By contrast, every one of America’s most successful groups takes a very different view of childhood, inculcating habits of discipline from a very early age — or at least they did so when they were on the rise.

最后一点,自我控制也不符合当代美国文化的主流观念。无数书籍和治愈系的电影都在大肆宣扬活在当下是一种美德,控制自我冲动的人不是活在当下。主 流文化担心,过度的限制或要求会破坏儿童的幸福。可与此相反的是,美国最成功的每一个族群,都对子女的童年有着截然不同的看法。从幼儿时期起,他 们就教导子女要养成自律的习惯。至少,当这些群体处于上升期时,他们是这么做的。

In isolation, each of these three qualities would be insufficient. Alone, a superiority complex is a recipe for complacency; mere insecurity could be crippling; impulse control can produce asceticism. Only in combination do these qualities generate drive and what Tocqueville called the “longing to rise.”

在孤立状态下,这三大法宝的每一种都不足以成事。单独来看,至上情结是自满的诱因;单纯的不安感可能会让人形成致命缺陷;自我控制则会导致苦行主 义。只有把三种特质结合在一起,才能产生动力,产生托克维尔口中的“上升的渴望”。

Needless to say, high-achieving groups don’t instill these qualities in all their members. They don’t have to. A culture producing, say, four high achievers out of 10 would attain wildly disproportionate success if the surrounding average was one out of 20.

当然,成就斐然的族群没有把这些特质灌输给群体内的所有成员。他们没必要这么做。如果周围的平均成功比例是每20人中有一人成功,那么,假设一种 文化能在10人中促成四人取得高度成就,他们获得的成功将是远高于一般水平的。

But this success comes at a price. Each of the three traits has its own pathologies. Impulse control can undercut the ability to experience beauty, tranquillity and spontaneous joy. Insecure people feel like they’re never good enough. “I grew up thinking that I would never, ever please my parents,” recalls the novelist Amy Tan. “It’s a horrible feeling.” Recent studies suggest that Asian-American youth have greater rates of stress (but, despite media reports to the contrary, lower rates of suicide).

不过,这种成功是有代价的。三大法宝中的每一个都有自己的病状。自我控制会削弱人们感受美丽、宁静和随兴而发的喜悦的能力。不安的人感觉好像自己 永远也不够好。小说家谭恩美(Amy Tan)回忆说,“在长大的过程中,我一直想着永远都不可能让父母高兴。这是一种可怕的情绪。”最近的研究表明,亚裔年轻人承受着更重的压力。(不过,和 媒体的报道正相反,他们的自杀比例要更低。)

A superiority complex can be even more invidious. Group supremacy claims have been a source of oppression, war and genocide throughout history. To be sure, a group superiority complex somehow feels less ugly when it’s used by an outsider minority as an armor against majority prejudices and hostility, but ethnic pride or religious zeal can turn all too easily into intolerance of its own.

至上情结甚至可能更令人反感。纵观历史,族群至上言论一直是压迫、战争和种族灭绝的一个根源。诚然,当外来少数族群利用至上情结作为盔甲,以抵御 来自多数族群的偏见和敌意时,这种情结不知怎么,会让人感觉不那么丑陋。可是,种族优越感或宗教狂热,本身实在太容易变成一种不宽容了。

Even when it functions relatively benignly as an engine of success, the combination of these three traits can still be imprisoning — precisely because of the kind of success it tends to promote. Individuals striving for material success can easily become too focused on prestige and money, too concerned with external measures of their own worth.

虽然作为成功的引擎,这三大法宝的组合发挥了相对良性的作用,然而,恰恰是由于它倾向推动的成功类型,它才依然可能产生束缚性的后果。为了物质成 功而奋斗的个人,会轻易地变得过于注重名望和钱财,过于关注外部环境对他们做出的价值评判。

It’s not easy for minority groups in America to maintain a superiority complex. For most of its history, America did pretty much everything a country could to impose a narrative of inferiority on its nonwhite minorities and especially its black population. Over and over, African-Americans have fought back against this narrative, but its legacy persists.

美国的少数群体要维持至上情结并非易事。这个国家在历史上的大部分时间里一直竭力把少数非白人族群、尤其是黑人族群描画成低人一等的群体。非裔美 国人一次又一次地反抗对他们的这种定位,然而其遗毒依然存在。

Black America is of course no one thing: “not one or ten or ten thousand things,” as the poet and Yale professor Elizabeth Alexander has written. There are black families in the United States occupying every possible socioeconomic position. But Sean “Diddy” Combs — rapper, record producer and entrepreneur — undoubtedly spoke for many when he said: “If you study black history, it’s just so negative, you know. It’s just like, O.K., we were slaves, and then we were whipped and sprayed with water hoses, and the civil rights movement, and we’re American gangsters. I get motivated for us to be seen in our brilliance.”

美国黑人当然不是千篇一律的。正如耶鲁大学教授、诗人伊丽莎白·亚历山大(Elizabeth Alexander)所写:黑人“不能被归为一类、十类,或万类。”在美国社会经济的每一个领域都地位显赫的黑人家庭。不过,艺名“迪迪”(Diddy) 的说唱歌手、唱片制作人和企业家肖恩·库姆斯(Sean Combs)做出如下表述时,无疑道出了许多人的心声:“你知道的,如果你研究黑人历史,就会发现它太负面了。这就好像说,好吧,我们是奴隶,我们被鞭 打,被拿水管喷,然后是民权运动,我们是美国匪帮。我要让别人看到我们的才能,这是给我动力的东西。”

Culture is never all-determining. Individuals can defy the most dominant culture and write their own scripts, as Mr. Combs himself did. They can create narratives of pride that reject the master narratives of their society, or turn those narratives around. In any given family, an unusually strong parent, grandparent or even teacher can instill in children every one of the three crucial traits. It’s just much harder when you have to do it on your own, when you can’t draw on the cultural resources of a broader community, when you don’t have role models or peer pressure on your side, and instead are bombarded daily with negative images of your group in the media.

文化从来都不是决定一切的因素。个人可以藐视最主流的文化,书写自己的人生,就像库姆斯所践行的那样。他们能开创引以为傲的篇章,拒绝对所在群体 的主流叙事,或者逆转这些叙事。在任何特定家庭,强悍得异乎寻常的父母、祖父母、甚至是老师都能给儿童灌输前述三种关键特质中的任意一种。只不 过,如果你必须自己动手来做这件事,如果你无法从更广泛的社群中吸取文化资源,如果你的身边缺乏榜样,或者缺乏同龄人的压力,你只能日复一日地被 你的族群在媒体上的负面形象所轰炸,那么想要灌输这些特质就要困难得多了。

But it would be ridiculous to suggest that the lack of an effective group superiority complex was the cause of disproportionate African-American poverty. The true causes barely require repeating: They include slavery, systematic discrimination, schools that fail to teach, employers who won’t promote, single motherhood and the fact that roughly a third of young black men in this country are in jail, awaiting trial or on probation or parole. Nor does the lack of a group superiority narrative prevent any given individual African-American from succeeding. It simply creates an additional psychological and cultural hurdle that America’s most successful groups don’t have to overcome.

不过,如果就此认定,缺乏有效的群体至上情结是非裔美国人贫困状况格外严重的原因,就有些可笑了。真正的原因已经不消多说,其中包括了奴隶制度、 系统性的歧视、失败的学校教育、不提拔黑人的雇主、单亲妈妈问题,还有就是这个国家约三分之一的男性黑人青年正待在监狱里,等待审判、缓刑或假 释。黑人群体缺乏对至上情结的阐述,这不是妨碍任何特定的非洲裔美国人成功的原因。它只是构建了一道额外的心理和文化屏障,大多数成功的美国群体 不需要跨越这种障碍。

At the same time, if members of a group learn not to trust the system, if they don’t think people like them can really make it, they will have little incentive to engage in impulse control. Researchers at the University of Rochester recently reran the famous marshmallow test with a new spin. Children initially subjected to a broken promise — adults promised them a new art set to play with, but never delivered — almost invariably “failed” the test (snatching the first marshmallow instead of waiting 15 minutes for a promised second). By contrast, when the adults followed through on their promise, most kids passed the test.

同时,如果一个群体的成员学会了不信任这套机制,如果他们不认为,像他们这样的人能真的获得成功,那么他们采取自控的动力就会微乎其微。罗切斯特 大学(University of Rochester)的研究人员最近以一种新眼光重新进行了著名的棉花糖测试。孩子们一开始受制于无效的许诺——大人们许诺他们可以玩新的画画工具,可是 根本就没给他们发放——这几乎总是让测试“失败”(孩子们会把第一块棉花软抢到手,而不是等上15分钟来获取之前承诺的第二块)。与之相反的是, 当大人们坚守承诺时,大多数孩子都通过了测试。

The same factors that cause poverty — discrimination, prejudice, shrinking opportunity — can sap from a group the cultural forces that propel success. Once that happens, poverty becomes more entrenched. In these circumstances, it takes much more grit, more drive and perhaps a more exceptional individual to break out.

导致贫穷的一些原因——歧视、偏见、机会的减少——同时也可以导致一个族群成功所需的文化力量被削弱。一旦发生这种情况,贫穷就变得更加牢不可 破。在这样的环境下,需要更大的勇气、更强的进取心、也许还有某个更出类拔萃的人才,才能突破重围。

Of course a person born with the proverbial silver spoon can grow up to be wealthy without hard work, insecurity or discipline (although to the extent a group passes on its wealth that way, it’s likely to be headed for decline). In a society with increasing class rigidity, parental wealth obviously contributes to the success of the next generation.

当然,俗话所说的衔着银汤匙出生的人,能够不必努力工作,不必感到不安或自律,就变得富有(虽然当一个族群以这种方式来传承财富时,它很可能正在 走向没落。)在一个阶层越来越固化的社会里,父母的财富对下一代的成功有着显而易见的作用。

But one reason groups with the cultural package we’ve described have such an advantage in the United States today lies in the very same factors that are shrinking opportunity for so many of America’s poor. Disappearing blue-collar jobs and greater returns to increasingly competitive higher education give a tremendous edge to groups that disproportionately produce individuals driven, especially at a young age, to excel and to sacrifice present satisfactions for long-term gains.

然而,受前述文化组合影响的族群能在美国占据优势的原因之一,正是导致美国许多穷人机会减少的那些因素。蓝领工作岗位正在消失,竞争日益激烈的高 等教育带来了更高的回报,这给了一些族群巨大的优势,这些族群会产生格外多的杰出人物,而且往往年轻有为,还会有格外多的人为了长远利益牺牲眼前 的满足。

THE good news is that it’s not some magic gene generating these groups’ disproportionate success. Nor is it some 5,000-year-old “education culture” that only they have access to. Instead their success is significantly propelled by three simple qualities open to anyone.

好消息是,导致这些族群取得惊人成就的不是某种神奇的基因。也不是只有他们能接触到的某种有5000年历史的“教育文化”。相反,他们的成功在很 大程度上是三种简单品质所推动的,所有人都可以具有这三种品质。

The way to develop this package of qualities — not that it’s easy, or that everyone would want to — is through grit. It requires turning the ability to work hard, to persevere and to overcome adversity into a source of personal superiority. This kind of superiority complex isn’t ethnically or religiously exclusive. It’s the pride a person takes in his own strength of will.

这三种品质的培养——并非易事,也不见得所有人都愿意——是需要坚持的。它要求把努力工作、坚持不懈和克服困难的能力转化成一种认为自己卓尔不群 的源泉。这种至上情结不是某个民族、或某个宗教团体所独有的。它是一个人对自己的意志力引以为豪。

Consider the story of Sonia Sotomayor, who was born to struggling Puerto Rican parents. Her father was an alcoholic, she writes in her moving autobiography, “My Beloved World,” and her mother’s “way of coping was to avoid being at home” with him. But Justice Sotomayor, who gave herself painful insulin shots for diabetes starting around age 8, was “blessed” with a “stubborn perseverance.” Not originally a top student, she did “something very unusual” in fifth grade, approaching one of the smartest girls in the class to “ask her how to study.” Soon she was getting top marks, and a few years later she applied to Princeton — though her guidance counselor recommended “Catholic colleges.”

想想索尼娅·索托马约尔(Sonia Sotomayor)的故事。她的父母是为生计所累的波多黎各人。她在感人至深的自传《我至爱的世界》(My Beloved World)中写道,父亲酗酒,母亲“对此的办法是避免”和父亲“同时在家”。因为患有糖尿病,索托马约尔大法官从8岁左右开始就要给自己注射胰岛素,这 个过程很痛苦,但她“有幸拥有”一种“顽强的毅力”。她刚开始并不是尖子生。五年级时,她“成绩平平”,要去找班上最聪明的那些姑娘“请教她是怎 么学习的”。但很快,她就取得了名列前茅的成绩,几年后,她申请了普林斯顿大学——尽管指导老师建议她申请“天主教学校”。

The point of this example is not, “See, it’s easy to climb out of poverty in America.” On the contrary, Justice Sotomayor’s story illustrates just how extraordinary a person has to be to overcome the odds stacked against her.

举这个例子不是为了说明,“看吧,在美国很容易摆脱贫穷”。相反,索托马约尔大法官的故事表明,一个人必须得多么优秀,才能克服自己面临的困难。

But research shows that perseverance and motivation can be taught, especially to young children. This supports those who, like the Nobel Prize-winning economist James J. Heckman, argue that education dollars for the underprivileged are best spent on early childhood intervention, beginning at preschool age, when kids are most formable.

但研究表明,坚持和动力是可以学习的,尤其是对年幼的孩子而言。这一点支持了诺贝尔奖得主、经济学家詹姆斯·J·赫克曼(James J. Heckman)等人的观点。他们认为,把面向贫穷人群的教育经费花在幼儿干预上是最优选择,幼儿干预应该从学龄前开始,那时孩子的可塑性是最强的。

The United States itself was born a Triple Package nation, with an outsize belief in its own exceptionality, a goading desire to prove itself to aristocratic Europe (Thomas Jefferson sent a giant moose carcass to Paris to prove that America’s animals were bigger than Europe’s) and a Puritan inheritance of impulse control.

美国本身就是一个生来有三重特质的国家:特别相信自己出类拔萃、一心想向有贵族气派的欧洲证明自己(托马斯·杰弗逊[Thomas
Jefferson]送给巴黎了一具巨型大驼鹿骨架,以证明美国的动物比欧洲的大)、继承了清教徒式的自我控制。

But prosperity and power had their predictable effect, eroding the insecurity and self-restraint that led to them. By 2000, all that remained was our superiority complex, which by itself is mere swagger, fueling a culture of entitlement and instant gratification. Thus the trials of recent years — the unwon wars, the financial collapse, the rise of China — have, perversely, had a beneficial effect: the return of insecurity.

但财富和权力有着可想而知的影响,腐蚀着那种不安全感和自我控制,而正是缺乏安全感和自我控制带来了财富和权力。到了2000年,我们只剩下至上 情结。这种情结本身只是虚张声势,催生了一种理所当然的特权和即时满足的文化。因此,近些年的磨难——失败的战争、金融危机、中国的崛起——反常 地产生了有益的影响:人们再度感觉缺乏安全感了。

Those who talk of America’s “decline” miss this crucial point. America has always been at its best when it has had to overcome adversity and prove its mettle on the world stage. For better and worse, it has that opportunity again today.

讨论美国“衰落”的那些人漏掉了这一点。需要克服苦难、在世界舞台上证明自己的魄力的美国,是最好的美国。不管结果是好是坏,美国现在再次得到了 这个机会。

Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld are professors at Yale Law School and the authors of the forthcoming book “The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.”

Copyright © 2013 The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

蔡美儿(Amy Chua)和贾德·鲁本菲尔德(Jed Rubenfeld)是耶鲁大学法学院教授,合著有即将出版的《成功三法宝:三种不可能的特质怎样解释美国文化群体起落》(The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America)。
翻译:张薇、陈柳、陈婷

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