Many people pose tradition and modernization asdiametrically opposite.For instance,as Beijingincreasingly becomes a modern internationalmetropolis,its traditional legacies,architecture andsocial mores among many other things,areshrinking at an alarming speed. However, more oftenthan not,tradition and modernization are whollycompatible and may even be mutually enriching.Themodernization process only serves to highlight theindispensable value of tradition.
Future-oriented as it is,modernization cannotbe cut away from the past.Man is an emotional animal whose emotional attachment to thepast defines the meaning of his existence in the present and the future. Although many urbanplanners are involved in a reckless drive for developing high-rise buildings to make their citieslook modern,true architects are committed to preserving traditional architecture.This isbecause demolishing traditional architecture would render modern people rootless anddisoriented.Without the past serving as a framework of reference,we would not knowwhere we are heading for.
Being traditional does not mean being old-fashioned or outmoded.Many traditionalvalues are of permanent significance and should be observed in the modern and post-moderneras.Chinese traditional ethics like benevolence and moral integrity should go beyond timeand space to serve as universal values.As we strive to modernize our world,we shouldupdate and enrich our traditions instead of discarding them altogether. Otherwise,we arebeing irresponsible to ourselves or to our future generations.
It is true modernization is an irresistible global trend taking place with increasingmomentum. However,the best pattern of modernization is the one taking full account of thehistorical past.Modernization should not be equated with breaking up with the past but ratheran extension and incorporation of the past.Accordingly,human civilization retains itscontinuity and human existence is made meaningful because of this continuity.