Justice, Compassion and Forgiveness in 2012 China

Since the occasion, content and persona non grata status of the authors/interviewee make these two articles too sensitive in China, I’m not typing them here. You’ll have to click through to get the details. But even in the American mainstream media, I rarely see this kind of thing.

‘I Forgive Them’

tsqaure02 Justice, Compassion and Forgiveness in 2012 ChinaI know that those responsible for oppression in China will also find themselves vulnerable one day, just like Absalom did. And so the question stands: When that day comes, will China continue with a pattern of harsh retribution, or a will it begin a path of grace, mercy and compassion? … I still mourn for what “could have been.” And for a long time, I battled bitterness and anger whenever I thought of the leaders who chose to take a path of destruction that day.

But then I was confronted with the example of Jesus. He loved women, children, the poor and the oppressed in a way that was radically countercultural — and he called me to do the same.

He also forgave the very people who ridiculed him and nailed him to a cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 24:34)

And again, he called me to do the same.

Because of Jesus, I forgive them.

The Pastor of China’s Underground Railroad

Christians “fill the gap” in civil society. “They were the first group driving the tractors and buses after the earthquake in Sichuan [in 2008]. They were the majority of the volunteers.” […]

“They’re deserted on the street and there’s no government system to take care of them. It was the Christians who brought them into their homes, fed them and gave them education. Then the government arrested them, and forced this leader to put [the children] on the street. He said we would rather [see] them on the street than being taken care of by the Christians.”

We have more on Tiananmen and Christianity in China, but on those topics and others related to this post I also highly recommend the always-impressive Seeing Red in China blog. Here some related stuff from us:

Political clues in the “Chinese Google” — what a Chinese search engine can tell you

baidu Political clues in the Chinese Google    what a Chinese search engine can tell you

Baidu would have been Google’s main competitor in China, if Google had been allowed to compete. Dr. Mary Ann O’Donnell has discovered that a particular very taboo search term is apparently no longer taboo. She perceives a significant power shift, concluding, “it signals the end of the Jiang era. The Two Meetings are churning relentlessly forward and it seems that power has been wrested from Jiang [Zemin]’s hands.” This raises other questions about the possibility that other related and extremely sensitive topics might be opened up in the near future, and what that indicates regarding the character and attitudes toward information of China’s next batch of leaders.

This is especially intriguing given the recent political “Bo-mb” dropped by the authorities last week, and the power struggles that may indicate.

I’d describe her post more clearly if it weren’t loaded with sensitive search terms. So you’ll have to go read it yourself.

Related stuff:

[Photo Gallery:] Tiananmen & The Forbidden City 天安门广场和故宫

Tiananmen Square (天安门广场 tiānānmen guǎnchǎng) and the Forbidden City (a.k.a. the Palace Museum a.k.a. 故宫 gùgōng) during Spring Festival.

Captions are under each photo. You can leave comments on this page at the bottom. (For an interesting historical overview of slogans on the Gate of Heavenly Peace, see here.)

2010 Feb 21

A 16-year-old privileged Beijinger in Canada on this day in history

“That is SOOO so so so FAKE!” exclaims my 16-year-old English student from Beijing this morning when I show her the iconic China photo on the front page of today’s Vancouver Sun. She isn’t angry but she’s keyed up, the strength of her feelings quickly exceeding that of her English vocabulary. After insisting that the man never actually got run over and that he voluntarily put himself in harm’s way, she changes targets, “…was one of the student leader, and she SOOO so so so SO SUCKS!” I know which particular student leader she’s referring to and I’ve heard this character assassination before. So apparently she’s heard something about the event. This is one of the ESL students to whom I gave some Google and YouTube homework about this particular event a month ago.

Before I showed her the paper, I asked her, “Did you know that today is special? The whole world is thinking about China. All the major newspapers have stories about China. Do you know why?” She didn’t. Her guess: swine flu.

Today’s Vancouver Sun, which I’d nabbed from the staff room before my morning one-on-one tutoring session, carried two decent articles and some photos to mark this historic day. I was curious about how much or how little my student knew about the event, plus I wanted her to see some decent representative examples of how Canadians think and write about China.

I didn’t argue or push it with her, as I didn’t think that’d be appropriate. I guessed correctly that she’d be interested in how China is portrayed in the local papers and was curious about her reaction. After a bit we discussed another unrelated story illustrating interesting aspects of Canadian society and before calling it a day.

(P.S. – Comments are closed on this one. This topic is still officially taboo in China and I’m not here to be political, so I’m not gonna risk getting blocked over it.

P.P.S. – If you’re concerned that I was being unethical with this student, please see this clarification of what actually happened.)

Related Posts:

Nothing to My Name / 一无所有

“Nothing to My Name” has been called the biggest hit song in Mainland Chinese history. If you’re only gonna learn one Chinese karaoke tune, this is the song. And if you’re looking for a poignant time to learn it, this is the month.

一无所有 / yīwúsuǒyǒu / Nothing to My Name

If you’re in Great Firewalled Youtube-blocking Mainland China you can see the video here (thanks, Ryan!). Listen to the mp3 here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


一无所有 channeled the disillusionment, anxieties, hopes, frustrations, complaints, and rebellion of urban Mainlanders coming of age during the ideological thaw of 80’s China. They adopted it as their generation’s anthem. Even many 90’s kids (in their mid to late 20s now) still connect strongly to this song.

cuijianblindfold Nothing to My Name / 一无所有Cuī Jiàn (崔健) is often called “the father of Chinese rock.” He first performed “Nothing to My Name” on a TV talent show in 1985 and then at a major concert in 1986. China’s urban young people ate it up. This month marks the 20th anniversary of a third significant performance, but I’ll let you follow the links at the end of this post to discover the more dramatic and sensitive details about the significance of Cuī Jiàn and “Nothing to My Name.”

Lyrics & Guitar Chords
From the beginning people interpreted the ambiguous lyrics in different ways (politics, sex, love & economics). But it was no secret that the lyrics were intended to contain both national and critical meanings. Cuī Jiàn’s concerts, in which he’d perform with a red blindfold over his eyes and play other songs with more pointed lyrics, left little doubt as to the targets of the critique. Those ‘targets’ responded by banning Cuī Jiàn from playing any large, significant performances for over 15 years.

The vagueness of the lyrics leaves this song open to a wide variety of English renderings. The English translation below is based on the translation found at cuijian.com (see other English renderings here and here). The title literally could mean “having nothing” or “not having anything.”

The guitar chords in the download aren’t perfect, but close. If you catch any mistakes on that or the translation, let me know! Download: YiWuSuoYou.pdf

You can play the video or mp3 above and follow along here:

我曾经问个不休 / wǒ céngjīng wèn gè bùxiū
I’ve asked (you) endlessly

你何时跟我走 / nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
When will you go with me?

可你却总是笑我 / kě nǐ què zǒngshì xiào wǒ
But you always just laugh at me

一无所有 / yīwúsuǒyǒu
(with) nothing to my name

我要给你我的追求 / wǒ yào gěi nǐ wǒde zhuīqiú
I want to give you my dreams

还有我的自由 / háiyǒu wǒde zìyóu
(and I) also have my freedom (to give you)

可你却总是笑我 / kě nǐ què zǒngshì xiào wǒ
But you always just laugh at me

一无所有 / yīwúsuǒyǒu
(with) nothing to my name

 

噢 你何时跟我走 / ō nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! When will you go with me?

噢 你何时跟我走 / ō nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! When will you go with me?

 

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground beneath my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

可你却总是笑我 / kě nǐ què zǒngshì xiào wǒ
But you always just laugh at me

一无所有 / yīwúsuǒyǒu
(with) nothing to my name

为何你总是笑个没够 / wèihé nǐ zǒngshì xiào gè méi gòu
Why is your laughter never enough?

为何我总要追求 / wèihé wǒ zǒng yào zhuīqiú
Why will I always search?

难道在你面前我永远 / nándào zài nǐ miànqián wǒ yǒngyuǎn
Could it be that before you I’ll forever…

是一无所有 / shì yīwúsuǒyǒu
…have nothing to my name?

 

噢 你何时跟我走 / ō nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! When will you go with me?

噢 你何时跟我走 / ō nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! When will you go with me?

[instrumental break]

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground under my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground under my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

 

告诉你我等了很久 / gàosu nǐ wǒ děng le hěn jiǔ
(I’m) telling you I’ve waited a long time

告诉你我最后的要求 / gàosu nǐ wǒ zuìhòu de yāoqiú
(So I’m) telling you my final request

我要抓起你的双手 / wǒ yào zhuā qǐ nǐde shuāngshǒu
I want to grab you by the hands

你这就跟我走 / nǐ zhè jiù gēn wǒ zǒu
And then you’ll go with me

这时你的手在颤抖 / zhè shí nǐde shǒu zài chàndǒu
This time your hands are trembling

这时你的泪在流 / zhè shí nǐde lèi zài liú
This time your tears are flowing

莫非你是正在告诉我 / mòfēi nǐ shì zhèngzài gàosu wǒ
Can it be that you are telling me

你爱我一无所有 / nǐ ài wǒ yīwúsuǒyǒu
You love me with nothing to my name?

 

噢 你这就跟我走 / ō nǐ zhè jiù gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! Now you’ll go with me

噢 你这就跟我走 / ō nǐ zhè jiù gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! Now you’ll go with me

[guitaaarrrr soooloooo!!!]

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground under my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground under my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

 

噢 你这就跟我走 / ō nǐ zhè jiù gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! Now you’ll go with me

When a Chinese friend in Tianjin downloaded a bunch of songs for me to learn, he made a point to highlight this one. Our Chinese textbooks have a whole lesson devoted to it, and when our teachers taught it they said it represents their generation. But I have a couple teenage Mainlanders in my ESL classes here in Vancouver, and none of them have even heard of this song or Cuī Jiàn. Of course, that’s not the only significant 20-year-old piece of Chinese history that they didn’t know about, so I assigned them some homework involving Google. Still waiting to see how they respond.

More about Cui Jian and Nothing to My Name:

More songs for your KTV repertoire! (with lyrics and guitar chords):