The Foundation of Harmony
Alden Liang, Division 3, College sophomore #ws18e-s1d3

We all have an invisible force of nature inside of us called the yin and yang. According to Chinese philosophy, yin is referred to the dark side while yang is referred the sunny side. They represent two different forces that combine in a complementary manner. In a way, yin and yang remind us that life is inevitable to both good and bad things. If I could be a character from a movie, TV show, or book, I would want to be someone who can successfully encompass this harmony and this person is Cristina Yang, a fictional doctor from the television series Grey’s Anatomy.

The ego is like a potential disease of the mind, but only in the wrong stride. The ego, similarly to other virtues, morphs into what it is needed for at a specific time. People are often consumed by their emotions and find themselves stuck in an incessant whirlpool of the same thoughts, but Cristina Yang has learned to spot her ego and take complete control of her ego instead of letting her ego control her. She is aware that her ego is a weightless weight that she has to carry with her through her journey in life, but she also knows that she does not have to listen to it or believe what it has to say. Frequently, people are not given the space to grow because they feel restricted by social norms, but Cristina has no shame in speaking her mind and doing what she wants. For instance, Cristina decided to have an abortion despite her partner at the time being pro-life. This was a significant moment in television history because numerous American TV shows depict abortion as an option, but ultimately, the female characters decide to not resort to it. Cristina reminds us that criticism is prone to happen regardless of what decisions we make, so we should just make them without self-doubt.

There is a desire that exists in everyone to achieve their present goals and when they are attained, they set out to reach new goals which is reasonable. People often condemn others for being overachievers, but Cristina Yang has taught me to never settle for less. She once said, “Be like a tornado, a hurricane, and rip through all the obstacles before you. Whatever is in front of you, you can conquer it and overcome it.” Cristina overcame dyslexia and received her M.D. degree from Stanford University where she graduated at the top of her class. She knows what she wants (to become a cardio-thoracic surgeon) and plans on getting exactly what she seeks. This caused a forest fire of determination to light up inside of me and I made sure that the flame would not get extinguished as I ended up graduating at the top of my high school class in 2016.

Although it feels euphoric to accomplish one’s goals, success is not a straight line as we will encounter unavoidable setbacks. According to The New York Times, in the era of social media, people often compare themselves to others through what they visualize on a screen with ephemeral curated depictions that do not provide the full story. Mobile devices escalate the comparisons from occasional to nearly constant. Despite the hospital staff of the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital pressuring Cristina to win the prestigious Harper Avery medical award, she remained optimistic when she found out she lost because she is already aware of her potential. She has realized that no reward or approval from the media can diminish her self-love.

French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau developed theoretical concepts of self-love called amour de soi and amour propre. Amour de soi is the innocent version of self-love where culture and politics are out of the equation while amour propre is self-love based on how others perceive us. The pain of being less than what someone thinks they ought to be can be unbearable and currently, in the world, most pain for people stems from their humanity not being validated. This pain causes us to get sucked into a whirlpool of darkness that continuously shrinks our world until we are just spinning without moving. We must annihilate this interior darkness that comparisons to others inflict on us. Cristina preaches that we should not look for validation from other people and that the only validation we need is from ourselves. Rousseau stated that we have transformed from amour de soi to amour propre and we cannot get rid of amour propre due to our impulse of wanting to be recognized by society. However, there is a glimmer of hope and that is to unplug from the modern world. Cristina unplugs from the modern world by not jumping on the bandwagon of social media and keeping a small, compact group of friends.

Cristina demonstrates the qualities of a virtuous person she is loyal to her best friend, Meredith Grey. English philosopher Thomas Hobbes proposed that there is no inherent goodness in the world because the only natural law is to do whatever it takes to survive for as long as possible. Although mistrust is common in the world, Cristina is proof that decency exists. She refers to Meredith as her person which is essentially a way of saying best friend. She once said, “Sometimes home is not four walls, it is two eyes and a heartbeat.” When a gunman broke into Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and told Cristina to stop the surgery on Meredith’s lover, she continued to perform the surgery for Meredith. Despite the immense amount of trepidation that Cristina was feeling, she risked a possibility of getting shot to save Derek because she knew Meredith would be excruciatingly devastated if Derek passed away in front of her eyes. Cristina is a symbol of hope for humanity and encourages us to help each other without expecting anything in return. We are not utensils that purely exist to turn oxygen into carbon dioxide; we all have a purpose and a huge part of that purpose is to find our goals and achieve them with our friends beside us.

Throughout our expeditions in life, we will encounter the wrath of our eternal enemy, yin. Pain is something most people try to avoid, but when we see someone else expressing agony, it suddenly resonates globally, and we have an epiphany that pain is not something we should hide from. We are often taught that suffering is a bad thing, but it is not; pain is just a part of life called yin that we need to counterbalance with yang. We need to embrace our pain and learn to get through. Facing obstacles and feeling uncomfortable and hurt at certain chapters of our lives allows us to grow in ways that we never imagined would be possible. The inevitable obstacles such as societal norms represent yin, and without them, we would never know what it is like to feel completely resilient which represents yang. The number of difficult situations Cristina Yang has surpassed made her the strong person she is today, and she is someone I aspire to be like. Cristina reminds us that when we think the cards are stacked against us, a loophole will always coexist to turn overwhelming melancholic aches to prosperous victories.
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