If a historian two hundred years from now were to document the “authentic” China and the “authentic” America of today, I suspect they would dedicate more paragraphs to the Nike and Foxconn factories of Guangzhou — pistons of a global economic engine — than they would the Forbidden City or old Hutong alleyways of Beijing. More footnotes on the decline of Detroit and our failing inner city public schools than on the Grand Canyon and Lady Liberty.
Yes! This! I think we tend to romanticize the old and “traditional” and construe those as the “authentic” heart of a culture. But culture evolves, just as individuals do. A 10-year-old self is no more or less authentic than a 90-year-old one. There are just different phases that we pass through, individually and collectively, and it’s all valuable, real, and worthy of appreciation.