Modern World Events
By Mitchell Valentine
I don't claim any organized religion, prepackaged doctrine, political label, or even really scientific hypothesis. I merely consider myself a participant in the Earth as it exists at the current moment. Though I am educated and understand at least the basics of my former claims.
I was born in the United States of America and am therefore entitled to an American passport. Which I understand affords me a certain amount of global freedom that others passports may not warrant. I currently reside in the People's Republic of China. My rights stem from my acquisition of a Foreign Expert Certificate and a Temporary Residence Permit.
There is recently a mass uprising all over the world about the current relationship between Tibet and China and I begin to ask myself a lot of questions being a resident here and all. There is mounting concern that the 2008 Olympics may be affected by the flack that arises. From my perspective on the ground here I have come to a few observations on what is really going on here.
As I look out upon my classroom filled with some of China's brightest new generation I immediately notice one striking difference between them and my experiences with education back home. Mind you my students are all fifteen to seventeen years old. First of all the kids are quiet and well behaved. They respect the teacher and pay attention during class. Perhaps I am being a little unfair as my lectures are more lively than most. But further I notice that none of the kids have ever tried drugs before. There is no concern of students bringing guns to school. There are no fights at school. None of them have had sex already. Few of them have ever kissed someone of the opposite sex. All of their parents are married. And they all believe that they are going to be something great when they grow up. Back home it's not the same.
I also look across the sea at a terrible hypocrisy going on. Americans have all but given up on themselves for the situation in Iraq and are just waiting for somebody to someday say that the season is over. Millions of people pointing fingers. Oh, what a lovely sight to behold. Why aren't any countries boycotting the US for its less than intelligent decisions? Why don't people care any more about it?
Then I think even further back to my experience and realize that before I came to China I had so little understanding of what the world was like over here. I realize that most of my friends are all under the same mistaken understanding. Before I came, there was a real fear that the evil communist party was going to keep me under a tight watch. I was fearful of even mentioning something like the word Tibet. That people lived here in fear, and were constantly whisked off into the night for misspeak. I've come to realize that in actuality people here live lives more free than I even did back home. The police here pretty much leave people alone unless there is a major problem. You don't even see the police. The worst experience I've had with the police was when they got me too drunk on whisky. No one has guns. There's almost no violent crime or murder. You can walk the streets at night and feel safe. The most common crime they experience is bike theft. Which if you saw the bikes they ride you'd wonder why anyone would steal one. Not my experience so much back in the US.
People pay sales tax as a choice here. You are rewarded for your action by a simple scratcher game. Development is rampant. The people are optimistic and friendly. Life in China is pretty darn good for a lot of people these days.
As well I feel like I'm doing something. I'm making the world a better place. Not by waving a banner and boasting some political agenda. Not by protesting in the wrong ways. Not by feeling like I'm doing something. But by getting involved and making a difference. One soul at a time. Starting with my own of course.
I teach, I listen, I write, I photograph, I sing, I dance, I love, I climb, I fall, I learn, I forgive, I care, I walk, I hug, I bow, I teach. With these things I make a difference. And I hope you ask yourself the same question. What am I doing?