“A lot of what the government has been doing is promoting creative industries, but it wants to find some other direction ... Before it moves forward, it must achieve a consensus,” said Liu, who co-wrote a bill that the Ministry of Culture will submit to the Legislative Yuan this month. The draft includes a platform for artists, grassroots activists and other cultural workers to negotiate a national cultural agenda.
Law Fang-mei (駱芳美), a US-based licensed counselor and psychology professor who has a clinic at Shih Chien University, also notes that Taiwan’s sense of unity is weak.
Different languages were used by Taiwanese in different eras, and there are large populations today that are unable to communicate clearly with one another.
“For example, my father was educated under the Japanese school system, and he is fluent in Japanese and the Minnan [Hoklo, commonly known as Taiwanese] dialect. Some people from that period spoke only the Minnan dialect. But in my generation most people are fluent exclusively in Mandarin, and even spend a lot of time learning English,” she said.
“Due to the language barrier, some people find it hard, or are actually unwilling, to listen to what previous generations are saying. When facing problems, each Taiwanese has to relearn many things by himself or herself,” she said.
A gloomy outlook for five years down the line can be seen as evidence for a nation’s low morale. Yet in a curious paradox, Lin stresses that he feels fine. “My day-to-day life is good,” he said. One woman surnamed Huang (黃), a homemaker from Yunlin County, reports a “high degree of pessimism.” Her family’s business, a photography printing center, shut down years ago after operating at a loss. She has found work as part-time secretary at a local pigeon racing association.
“I don’t expect another job. I don’t expect too much. China is rising and businesses are leaving Taiwan, and that’s the way it’s going to be,” Huang said.
“But haven’t you heard? If the mountain won’t move, the road does,” she said, using a colloquial Chinese expression.
Meanwhile, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics is completing its own Happiness Index Report. Release is scheduled for the end of August, said project supervisor Wu Pei-hsuan (吳佩璇).
“We respect the results of other polls, but believe we have considered much larger samples and more variables to provide a complete picture of national happiness,” said Wu.