Friday, March 02, 2007

The Ancient Empire

This post was written in August '07

I have now been to China at least a dozen times. I have traveled the more rural parts of the country and I have spent a fair amount of time in Beijing and Shanghai. I find myself drawn to this land and these people in a way that I never would have expected. The Chinese suffer the same personal shortcomings as the rest of us (malice, prejudice, greed, etc.), but there is something here that speaks to me and that makes me feel good when I am here…let’s see if I can describe it to you.

China has seen as much suffering and death as anywhere in this world and poverty and injustice are still common here. That this civilization is over 4,000 years old speaks to the fact that these people have suffered for a loooong time. Also, I have read much about China in the 20th century and I can’t find anywhere else that suffered as great a repression. Hitler killed about 6 million, Stalin probably killed about 43 million, but Mao is likely responsible for the deaths of over 70 million Chinese. He beats Hitler and Stalin put together. You can add in Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia and still not match Mao’s bloodlust! The Chinese have suffered all this…still suffer much, yet they are a happy, friendly and altogether wonderful people. They seem to have mastered the idea of each being a small light of warmth and friendship in the storm that is this world. They don’t dwell on the things they can’t change, but they enjoy the moment (and each other) and they “live” their lives. On my last visit to Beijing, I looked down a decrepit side street and found the residents had neither electricity or running water. Most of the Americans I know would consider this situation intolerable, but the people on the block (who were just arriving home from whatever work they did) were busy setting up tables on their doorsteps and inviting their neighbors over for Mahjong and Beer. I could hear the laughter follow me as I walked the streets back to my hotel. I know so many people that have EVERYTHING and yet never laugh that seeing these people so happy with nothing made me very humble.

I grew up hearing and seeing many things about the Chinese. Most of these from my Government and most of them bad. We all tend to hear a lot about other people from our news and from our leaders. I hope that you all realize that these people lie. My government lies and so does yours. We can only overcome the hatred that these lies beget by being open minded to each other by trying to reach out and meet others from the far corners of this crazy world…we are really very much alike and the good that you see in your closest friend can be found in China, or India, or Egypt, or England, or America. Governments and the people they govern are very different things. The media tries to make it easy for us to see others as our enemies. The only enemies that I see anywhere are the governments that repress and kill and make war with each other.

I have no desire to run anything or to tell anyone how I think they should live, unfortunately the leaders of most countries have just that desire. They became what they are exactly because they wanted to control others. I no longer believe in the benevolent leader. If they exist, they are rare indeed! I can think of only George Washington and Cincinnatus in the last two thousand years as examples. We need to find a way to control our leaders…and we need to pay less attention to the news.

Best! Norm.


At 4:21 AM, Anonymous nesrina said...

Wow, I am so thankful for the wonderful virtual tour to China, not the country but the hearts of people there.
God has created this vast world and wanted people to interact and sympathize with each other, it's the governments that want us to be enemies as you said. However, it's our responsibility to stop listening to them and start listening to each other instead.


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