Monday, July 02, 2007

Why so cruel?

I didn't fully understand the Chinese plight I wrote about yesterday until I visited the country myself. Like the commenter's, I felt only the cruelty behind the rules before I set foot on Chinese soil. I can't say I fully understand it now, but I have better grasp on the treatment of children in China.

Poverty forces individuals and nations into a dark corner. The kind of abject poverty China experiences I have never known. A billion people scrambling for the same limited resources cannot look pretty, and might be likened to a lesson in Darwin's "natural selection of the species". The toughest, the strongest, the most resourceful win.

Overpopulation existed only in books for me, but visiting I witnessed the result. Don't just think New York City at rush hour- I've been and it's not really a parallel. Picture yourself as you come out of the most crowded concert, a college or major league ball game, any packed stadium of some kind. Imagine the snail's pace of your progress to get to your car and join the endless traffic jam following. This is what it's like in Xian everyday most of the day, and Xian is only one of hundreds of overpopulated Chinese cities. The sidewalks were so crowded that I clung to the back of my son's shirt nearly all the time. No time or room for cloister phobics. Now imagine what happens to grass when millions step on it all day everyday. It dies and only dust remains.

I stepped off the plane into Beijing and later in Xian and noticed a nice layer of brownish black dust covering everything in sight. It was spring and the trees were supposed to be vibrant green, but the dust slightly diminished their colors. I noticed grass and other things green I take for granted in Tennessee were scarce, and the little I found was also covered by the grainy film.

There are literally thousands of Chinese hired to sweep, spray and scrub the streets and walls of Xian dusk to dawn. In terms of litter, Xian was very well kept.

What else is in this dust besides dirt? Pollution. Imagine coal being the source of heat and fuel to support the masses. Imagine the amount of pollutants in a less than regulated country from millions of factories built to sustain the Chinese people's daily needs and churn out additional trinkets to sell to Americans at peddle through the almighty Wal-Mart to boot. My hostess showed me the black water in her clothes washer coming from my garments worn about the city. The fourth washing the water was only grey. Imagine the health problems which result from breathing this stuff in. Thank God the Chinese diet and exercise routines are much healthier than ours in America, or they'd be goners. Workers lined up every morning outside their places of employment to exercise together. Wouldn't that be an excellent addition to the McDonald's employee's workday in America?

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, that the elderly literally must depend on their children for retirement. It's been this way for thousands of years. Yes, thousands while America can only boast of 200 years of history. Think of the meaning of "set in your ways" and "teaching old dogs new tricks" when it comes to living a certain way for a thousand years. American social security and 501K plans are relatively new inventions. The Chinese are looking into it, but like Americans in poverty, the majority of Chinese do not have the money they need to survive today much less save for old age. Imagine having a billion population and searching for government rules to control it. The "one child rule" made worlds more sense to me in the midst of sweltering crowds. Why do parents strive for their one child to be a healthy and whole boy? It's survival. Males have historically and internationally been the ones to provide. You think eating dog food and living in American public housing sounds like a bad plan for elderly care? Imagine starvation and begging on the streets of China as the alternative. Yes, I saw heartwrenching begging on the streets of China. It's almost too painful to write about. Particularly the curved old woman who pulled on my arm and fell to her knees before me.

Suppose you were a penniless young woman, and your child was born with a double cleft palate. Your aunt says, "If you let someone from America adopt your child, the family will have that fixed, and your child's face will be beautiful. You cannot even provide for yourself. Let a rich American give your child a great new life. Try for a healthy child to help you in your old age." On a desperate hand, it makes sense.

Consider the ease of abortion weighed against the cost of government penalties for a second child. Also, there is no free public education in China. Everyone, no matter how poor, must pay for any schooling. Another reason to think of aborting. One of my favorite quotes on abortion comes from Mother Teresa- "It is a poverty when a woman chooses to take the life of another for sake of convenience." How could a nation possibly make abortion convenient? Americans have no room for finger pointing on the matter.

Why in the world do these billion people accept godless communism? Why not seek another form of government with different rules? A short trip into Chinese history will make that apparent. The ancient corrupt dynasties plowed their treacherous paths well into this century leaving a nation starving and uneducated. Communism provided answers for hunger and educational advancement. Surprisingly, today the word in China is entrepreneurship. It's an eek toward democracy and a different way of thinking.

I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that the Chinese people are cruel. I was taken in by the warmth, good humor, friendliness, and kindness of each person I met on my journey there. I was invited open armed into homes and businesses. The Chinese won my heart in the respect my son and I were freely given.

Does this post bring any clarity to my cause- fasting for Compassion International with an emphasis on the children of China?


Anonymous said...

Hi friend. I found you! I loved reading about your China experiences. I have a heart for China, and hope to get there someday. I'd even like to adopt from there, but Den and I are not on the same page about that..yet.

Tater's going to France?! Huh?

I hope your fast is almost over for today. A Starbuck's cocoa sounds great right now, huh?!

Deb C

Kat said...

Wow. That was SO interesting and eye opening....

Thanks so much for sharing that.

Tressa said...

Thank you for sharing your experience in China. It sounds like an experience that has definitely changed you.
I think we all need to have experiences like this to change us. We tend cover our eyes and our ears pretending its not happening or not real.
This is real, and its happening right now. We all needed to see and hear your story, and need to somehow make changes.

truevyne said...

Hey Deb! Nice to have a visit from ya. I'll tell you about France in person.

Kat, you bet.

Tressa, it's hard to know where to start. Compassion International has been an easy button for helping, but I'm always looking for deeper more involved ways.

almostgotit said...

My brother is married to a woman from China. She is the 2nd of three children. Her parents, both physicians, were so threatened by the revolution (which targetted intellectuals and professional people, like my s-in-law's folks) Already pregnant with child #3, and facing fears they'd be arrested at any time, they decided to send my SIL (who was very young) to be raised in safety by her grandparents in another province. While her grandparents (also eduated) raised her with great love and paid for her and several cousins to attend US universities, She grew up not knowing why her parents had given her (and not her older brother) away. I can hardly imagine her pain which finally led her, as an adult, to ask them "WHY??!!" and only then did they tell her.

When the third child was born (also a girl), she was not breathing. The attending doctor quietly set her aside to die -- (3rd child, and a girl? It would be better this way.) HOWEVER, my SIL's father was present, and he grabbed that baby girl -- HIS baby girl -- and gave her mouth-to-mouth until she recovered.

Such huge love, the kind any parent would recognize. But such sad cultural pressures -- where fear is so great that one doesn't even dare to explain to a young girl why she must be sent away.

Anyway, thanks for your faithfullness and vigilance, Truevyne.

(final note: my SIL's parents left China for the first time ever to visit their daughter in the US. At the moment, they are staying for an extended visit with my one-year-old niece, their grand-daughter, who is literally and beautifully an incarnation of east-meets-west in all the best ways. And her name, REALLY, is "Grace"!!)

truevyne said...

dear almost,
I've always been intrigued by the cultural revolution and how it effected the lives of the educated Chinese. Children are always the hardest hit, being the most vulnerable. Gracie is a doll.