Thursday, August 14, 2008

RE: Olympics - Beijing 2008.

I'm Canadian, so I ought to exercise my right to free speech, correct? (this prep-talk is more for me)
Also, anything put up on public domain on the internet is at the writer's risk of reproduction, is it not? (I am actually unsure of this, but what the hey)

Under these assumptions, here I go:


I am of the opinion that the self-congratulating fascists need a little venue to vent their inferiority complex somehow. Now they can waste their time talking about this event among themselves and the people of the civilized world can simply ignore them and move on when the events are over. It’s more devastating to the Chinese people than boycott. They will demand recognition, but sooner or later they will come to the realization that the games are just games and nothing more.

I skipped the opening ceremony intentionally. So did my brother. It gives me a great deal of discomfort watching fascists making their case to the world. But I will follow the games because I am curious as to how lopsided refereeing will be in the games.

~ Homin Lee on The Tiger at Home
(emphasis my own)


Isn't China the leader in counterfeit products, so why should anyone be surprised at their fakery. Just wait till it is discovered that all those medals are just chocolate wafers covered in gold paper.

(Emphasis my own)

They cheated a talented 7 year-old girl out of her deserved place on the international stage because they thought she wasn't cute enough. That's why people are sickened.

China: all face. Just don't look under the hood.

Raphael Alexander
(Emphasis my own)
both on Kerplonka!

Heard loud and clear, as with most of the discourse that has been coming from the West (Just Google 'Chinese Olympics'). I haven't seen much variation, maybe I haven't been looking too far. And this saddens me, not only because I am ethnically Chinese and understand some bits of China's culture, but also because it says a lot of the state of our world today.

I write not to accuse, abuse or hurt. I hope that I come across as sincere, genuine and honest. I am trying to be gracious and humble. I write from a particular point of view, maybe even a unique one, and I recognize that my discourse is not free from my experiences and context, as with everyone else's.

Anyway, moving on from the post-modern disclaimer -

I get angry when I read comments such as these. It is quite similar to when people dismiss Singapore as clean, efficient and nice until "you step out of line or you don't have something to offer and you are gone" [Annonymous on Kerplonka!]. I get upset because I think people are shooting their mouths off without really knowing the facts. And no, a couple of years in Asia does not mean you know everything there is to it. Like me, I've lived in Canada for 10 years -

"How's Canada?"
"Good! Snow's pretty, nature is nice, but society is shallow and superficial, the homeless situation is embarrassing, it's dirty, infrastructure is bad and I feel racially slighted at times. Oh yeah, they play the dumbest game. It's called Hockey. And guess what, Netball doesn't exist!"

Not very nice now is it? And sadly, it isn't too far from what I tell people when they ask (except for the hockey part - that was to make a point).

So, this is all there is to North America. No. Of course not. There is so much more that evades me, that I cannot understand. Then neither is China a 2-dimensional fascist red blob on the map with no character other then we've been told by Google. Neither can it be summed up by the back-packing adventures of a white tourist, perpetually on the outside.

Now don't get me wrong. Of course China has made mistakes, big ones. But which nation hasn't? And this is not to say that we ought to let China off, but rather, we ought to guard our response to the situation, and approach with caution. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", kinda thing. And it makes good sense, because otherwise, it's just embarrassing and would lack any kind of moral authority whatsoever. (Then, I guess there's just economic and military might left, and we all might as well drop this charade of rights and freedom and fight for survival).

This also isn't to say that the global community cannot intervene, or make a stand for what is 'right' (I'm leaving this one open for now). But it's not just what we do that's important, it's also how. I don't see how offensive remarks (see those reproduced above) add to anything. Worse, if popular sentiment is reflective of global politics, then... China's fucked. It seems to me that all there is really, is that the is West fearful of a rising power. Now this isn't what America was to Europe; this is a rising power with a completely different paradigm and ontology. For anyone who understands, this a Circular culture up against a Linear one.

Anyway, back to the global community, all I'm saying is that China's sins have been commited by all. So they invaded Tibet and took their land. That sounds painfully similar to the First Nations/ Maori / Hawaiian people (not an exhaustive list, btw). So they're mercilessly sucking up resources in Africa with no returns to the people. Europe was there long before, doing the same, and redrawing lines to boot. So China can't get it's human rights act together (Human rights is essentially an idea based on individualism, China has a communal/familial social structure, of course it's struggling - but that's another can of worms), well give her time. It took the colonial powers quite some time to recognize their subjects as equals, instead of tossing them into residential schools.

So what should we do? Fight for we believe in, while remembering who we are, and where we came from. And besides, you can't possibly say you're a champion of human rights if you're going to degrade 5000 years of a solidified culture - a culture that is shared by over 1.3 billion humans (a right to culture is an included right I believe).

Lead by example - free the people whom you oppress. Most oppression is oblivious or kept at arms length. I am tickled by the activists hopping around North America screaming "Free Tibet". Do you actually think China will listen to you? You don't even speak Chinese! (But of course, English, universal language no?) But what about back home. In Canada, we have people who have had their land taken from them, by a government who would actually listen to us (in 2 official languages!). Wouldn't we be more effective in this case?

We need to be honest with ourselves and figure out what is really going on, with China and with us. Within us. What do we want and what are we saying that we want. Nothing seems to be sacred anymore, and lying about it would only make things worse.

I personally think its fear. With the Cold War, Western countries successfully indoctrinated their populations with the notion that there were only two ways to go about it: democracy or doom. China and Singapore emerged, confused but strong, seeming to belong to the "doom camp" but somehow not quite conforming to the expected models of economic failure. Like ghosts and the unknown, they're pretty scary. But they have a lot to offer. Alternative structures and concepts, and ones that actually work. (When Singapore hit the ground running, it didn't have time for ideological trial and error, it had to work - and it did, but it didn't follow the rules). It is quite ironic, the one thing that shook my budding faith in Liberal Democracy was seeing it first hand in Canada. And I fully agree that Canada does it well, I'm just not convinced that it's the best system at all, for all. And the attitude towards this years Olympics isn't helping.

I just have to say this. The spectacle on August 8th came across as unimpressive (or fascist) to more then a few viewers. I am not surprised. I watched from a hotel room in Frankfurt, wishing I understood German, impressed. Very impressed - because I understand Chinese culture. "But the rest of the world wouldn't appreciate it" Mother says and we all agree. It's like my grandfather wrinkling his nose at the best pasta placed before him. White food is terrible. Period. So take it from one who understands (and this goes beyond language) - it was a spectacular display.

Finally, to make my point clear (or as clear as possible): This isn't about China. It's about the West. We've done, and are doing, evil things too. And lets not forget that before we go about calling the coal kettle black.


"I just wish that China wouldn't try so hard. She is her own unique person. Why does she have to try so hard? She should just be who she is not try to be like the west."
"....Does she have a choice?"
~ Conversation between Glen and Myself, somewhere in India

a faithful reader suggests that I address myself in this post. But I won't, because I was not brought up to be a self-centered individualist - how's that, Seth?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I get very excited when I meet friends, and I have high inertia. Meaning that my excitement lasts long after the trigger has left on a separate train.

[Boyfriend leaves the train and Hannah fumbles about with her iPod]

Good Looking Guy [gesturing to his seat]: do you want to sit down?

Hannah [Noticing GLG's gesturing only after a few moments. Confused]: huh?

GLG: Do you want to sit?

Hannah: ha? Uh, not it's ok. I'm uh... young and very energetic.

GLG: Yes I can tell.

Hannah [not knowing when to stop]: Do I look pregnant? Cos I'm not!

GLG [Stressed]: Uh, yes... I know you're not.

Hannah [still on a roll]: That was great by the way. Please don't let this stop you from offering your seat to others.

GLG [Dives into his bag and fumbles around]: ...

[fumbles for an extraordinary long time, never looks up again]


Everytime I see a free Tibet protest, I get angry all over again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Warning :: Spoiler
~ The Man who was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

There was complete silence in the starlit garden, and then the black-browed Secretary, implacable, turned in his chair towards Sunday, and said in a harsh voice ---

"Who and what are you"

"I am the Sabbath," said the other without moving. "I am the peace of God."

"I know what you mean," he cried, "and it is exactly that that I cannot forgive you. I know you are contentment, optimism, what do they all the thing, an ultimate reconciliation. Well I am not reconciled... If you were from the first our father and our friend, why were you also our greatest enemy? We wept, we fled in terror; the iron entered into our souls -- and you are the peace of God! Oh, I can forgive God his anger, though it destroyed nations; but I cannot forgive Him His peace"

"No," said Syme "I do not feel fierce like that. I am grateful to you, not only for wine and hospitality here, but for many a fine scamper and free fight. But I should like to know. My soul and heart are as happy and quiet here as this old garden, but my reason should like to know."

Sunday looked at Ratcliffe, whose clear voice said --- "It seems so silly that you should have bee on both sides and fought yourself"

Bull said "I understand nothing, but I am happy. In fact, I am going to sleep"

"I am not happy," said the Professor with his head in his hands, "because I do not understand. You let me stray a little too near to hell."

And then Gogol said, with the absolute simplicity of a child --- "I wish I knew why I was hurt so much".

Still Sunday said nothing, but only sat with his mighty chin upon his hand, and gazed at the distance. Then at last he said --- "I have heard your complaints in order. And here, I think, also comes another to complain, and we will hear him also"

"Gregory!" gasped Syme... "You are right," said Gregory and gazed all round. "I am a destroyer, I would destroy the world if I could... I thought I hated everything more then common men can hate anything; but I find that I do not hate everything so much as I hate you. You! You never hated because you never lived. I know what you are all of you, from frist to last --- you are the people in power! You are the Law, and you have never been broken. But is there a free soul alive that does not long to break you, only because you have never been broken?" ... "The only crime of Government is that it governs. The unpardonable sin of the supreme power is that it is supreme. I do not curse you for being cruel. I do not curse you (though I might) for being kind. I curse you for being safe! You sit in your chairs on stone and have never come down from them... Oh I could forgive you everything, you that rule all mankind, if I could feel for once that you had suffered for one hour a real agony such as I ---"

Syme sprang to his feet, shaking from head to foot. "I see everything... why does each thing on earth war against each other thing? Why does each small thing in the world have to fight against the world itself? ... So that each thing that obeys law may have the glory and isolation of an anarchist. So that each man fighting for order may be as brave and good a man as the dynamiter. So that the real lie of Satan may be flung back in the face of this blasphemer, so that by tears and torture we may earn the right to say to this man "You lie!" No agonies can be too great to buy the right to say to his accuser, "we have also suffered"."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dear Seth, Stuff it!

I told Glen that I was worried about hardening, about having my fluid potential harden into ice or stone. But I think it's time for me to learn to become clear, pure and strong.

Resting and wrestling, this is what this summer has been about. And I am very sorry about the Philippines!