December 1, 2013

Do We Judge People?

We don't judge people by what they do to themselves, but what they do to others.

November 29, 2013

"Starry Night" - A Thanksgiving Note to Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night. Oil on can...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had an evening class the day before Thanksgiving day. One 10 year-old girl was painting acrylic, another three younger ones (about 7 year-old) were doing collages by using construction paper. One boy got tired of collage, so I just let him do whatever he felt like. He said without thinking: "I am going to draw 'Starry Night'". He looked at me.
"'Starry Night?'"
"Yes." He said.
"Yes, " another girl Rachel Liu immediately responded, "I love that picture!"
"Are you guys talking about Van Gogh's painting?"
"YES!" 3 of them "yelled" at me at the same time. Then they told me they had school projects that were based on this painting and they all enjoyed them very much.
I was "amused" by how they liked such a "profound" masterpiece, considering how many adults don't even "understand" it. So I asked Rachel: "Do you really like that picture?"
"Yes, I like it!" She answered without hesitation.
"Why?"
"???... eh..." She thought a little moment, "I don't know." She said with a little shyness.
"But you do like it. I mean, you LOVE it, right?"
"Yes." She looked at me, nodded her little head determinedly.
The boy was anxiously waiting for the conversation to end. He asked me: "I want to drawing 'Starry Night', do you have it?"
I immediately checked my Van Gogh books but found it was not there. So I rushed to my computer and printed it from online. When I brought the picture to classroom, they all cheered up loudly: "That's the one!"

The boy's recreating "Starry Night" did not succeed, because there was not enough time. Before he left class, I asked him if he wanted the print of "Starry Night", he looked at me surprisingly: "really? I can have it?"
"Yes, of course!"
He grabbed the print with great joy and thanked me.

That night, the night before thanksgiving, I found myself keeping thinking of Van Gogh. I realized, despite the fact that Van Gogh was not accepted at his time, and he was still not "understood" by millions adults now and then, he nonetheless touched these children's hearts. And from these children's eyes, I know it was joy they received from his painting.
Thanks Vincent! How I wish there's a way to let you know about this.

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November 6, 2013

Who Are The Real Danger To The World Peace?

The ones that jeopardize the world peace are those who smite others' right cheeks, not the ones who don't turn to them the other cheeks.

November 4, 2013

An Open Letter To UNICEF Regarding Family Child Abuse In China

(This letter has been edited by Madilyn Leonard Benrubi, a blogger friend of mine. A big THANKS to her!)

This letter has been sent to:
UNICEF(The United Nations Children's Fund, http://unicef.org/) ;
ISPCAN (International Society For Prevention Of Child Abuse and Neglect, http://www.ispcan.org/) ;
IICRD (The International Institute for Child Rights and Development , http://www.iicrd.org/);


(Caution! The case examples are extremely disturbing!)


Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing this letter to call your attention to the family child abuse situation in China.
Family child abuse in China has been a serious social problem and it has never been confronted by Chinese society and government. During the recent couple of decades, while China enjoys its economy rising, its spiritual side seems to be more corrupted than ever. Children, the most vulnerable group among the Chinese population, become the worst victims of this moral degeneration.
Here are several severe case examples:

 Case 1: 1993, Xining, Qinghai province. Li Su, a 5 year-old tortured to death by her biological mother. 
A photo of Li Su sitting in a hospital
bed when she was alive.
1993, in Xining (西宁市), Qinghai province (青海省) of China, a 5- year-old girl was tortured to death by her biological mother. Her name was Li Su (苏丽). During her short life, Li had suffered all kinds of mental and physical abuses, including verbal abuse, savage beatings, and starving. More horrendously, more than once, Li's mouth was sewn together with needle and thread. One day when Li was five-years-old, due to tremendous hunger, she begged for food, but what her “mother” did was feed her with hot boiling cooking oil. After this astonishing torture, the “mother” did not send her daughter to the hospital; instead, she continued physically abusing her for several days, until Li finally died of unimaginable pain.
Li Su's mother, Zhiyun Yan, served only 7 years in prison. Now she is a free woman. She destroyed her daughter's tomb after she got out of jail.
http://pilosopogyno.tumblr.com/post/49071586334

 Case 2: 2013, Nanjing, Jiangsu province. Two baby girls were left in a locked home for over 100 days and staved to death.
June 2013, in the city of Nanjing (南京市), Jiangsu province (江苏省) of China, two girls, ages one and three years old, were left alone at home for over 100 days and starved to death, due to completely incapable and irresponsible mothering. The case is still being investigated.
http://roll.sohu.com/20130628/n380124741.shtml

Case 3: 2013, Jinsha county, Guizhou province. A young girl has been brutally tortured by her biological father for over five years.  
"Little Li"'s head was scalded by boiling 
water. She was held upside down by 
her father while her head was put inside
boiling water. Father claimed that he was
only trying to wash her hair.
 July 2013, in Jinsha county (金沙县), Guizhou province (贵州) of China, a man was arrested for brutally torturing his 11-year-old daughter “Little Li” for 5 years, including pouring boiling water over her head, sewing her mouth together, using needles to prick her fingers, etc. The girl suffers tremendous physical and mental trauma.
http://news.sina.com.cn/s/p/2013-05-12/175827099753.shtml



All fingers were pricked by needles.


Case 4: 2013, Shuicheng county, Guizhou province. A 12-year-old girl was tortured by her parents for years. She escaped after being branded with a red-hot iron rod all over her body (including genital area) by her mother, but was sent back to her parents by police.

Xiaoyan in hospital. 
In 2013, in Shuicheng county (水城县), Guizhou province (贵州省) of China, a 12- year-old girl “Xiao Yan” (晓燕)escaped from “home” after her body was branded literally all over with a red-hot fire rod by her parents – mostly her mother. Several days later she ended up at a local police department. After Xiao Yan's father handed a “letter of repentance” to police, Xiao Yan was sent back to her parents. Soon she escaped again due to her parents' continuing physical tortures. This time her parents were arrested and Xiao Yan is allegedly under hospital care.
http://learning.sohu.com/20130126/n364688803.shtml

Branding wounds all over Xiao Yans' body. 

The wounds on her legs. Some of them are 
deep enough to show the bones.


Case 5: 2012, Bijie, Guizhou province. A 6 year-old girl was tortured by her parents with various brutal methods. 
2012, in Bijie (毕节), Guizhou province (贵州省) of China, a 6-year-old girl, Ting Ting (婷婷)was found astonishingly abused by her parents, torture methods included kneeling on a nailboard, slashing with iron wire, branding with a hot iron rod, etc.
http://tieba.baidu.com/p/2002957291?see_lz=1

Branding wounds on Ting Ting's body.


The stove used to prepare hot rod that 
were used to brand Ting Ting. 

Case 6: 2013, Nanjing, Jiangsu province. A group of young girls was forced to beg naked on the street. 
2013, in Nanjing (南京), Jiangsu province (江苏省) of China, images of a group of young girls naked and begging on the streets stirred some attention online and soon, one of the girls was found by police. She was forced by her parents to go on the street begging naked to “earn” more money.
http://news.sina.com.cn/s/p/2013-07-04/173127578392.shtml



These are just a few samples that have been already exposed. We can reasonably imagine that there are many more similar crimes still hidden and ongoing. The real horror behind these astonishing crimes is not only how brutal they were, but also the fact that they were not committed underground. All these sample cases were more or less known to neighborhoods, condemned by some people even in the media, yet they were still not stopped. The first case (Li Su, 1993) was reported in newspapers several times, but Li Su was nonetheless left alone until she paid the ultimate price. All these examples reveal a fact, that child abuse, especially family child abuse in China is not well recognized by society and not effectively supervised and punished by the law. Children in China who suffer from family abuse are not properly protected, and we could even say, based on the cases above, those children were not protected at all.

Besides these types of extreme crimes, the relatively milder child abuse in China is much more “visible” and can be seen almost everywhere. Here are some statistics created in a research paper: Child abuse in China: a yet-to-be-acknowledged “social problem” in the Chinese Mainland, created in 2004, by D.P.Qiao and Y.C.Chan from Capital University of Economics and Business and Hong Kong Polytechnic University: http://www.acad.polyu.edu.hk/~ssycchan/Child%20Abuse%20in%20China%201.pdf

 “There are at present no national statistics on child abuse in China, but some survey data will throw light on the problem. In 2001, a national survey of 3543 married people conducted by the China Law Society showed that 71.9% of the interviewees reported to have had the experience of being beaten by their parents during their childhood (Liu & Zhang 2002). In Beijing, it has been found that 6 in 10 students had experienced physical punishment and disguised physical punishment from their teachers (Hao 1999). In a parallel study on primary students in China and Korea between 1998 and 1999, 70.6% of the Chines children had experienced family violence in the year preceding the study and the rates of corporal punishment by teachers were 51.1%.”

The seriousness of Child abuse in China has been ignored, covered, or disguised by both government and society, consciously or unconsciously, due to many complicated reasons, such as cultural tradition, nationalistic sentiment, politics, etc., and it certainly cannot be changed overnight. However, in this 21st century, I believe Chinese children need to be watched by all people in the world who are concerned about human rights, because a significant number of Chinese children are being treated as less than human beings (even less than animals), living in a dire situation that causes them unimaginable suffering. I sincerely hope that the international organization of UNICEF can make some effort in regard to this serious matter. 

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Yun Yi
An ordinary Chinese American and a humanist


November 1, 2013

Some Beautiful Spring Photos of Chinese Conntryside

These are the kind of landscape in China I miss very much, though I have not seen one place as this pretty. 
Photos by 行者戴歌 (an interesting user name, which means a "singing traveler") 











October 27, 2013

The Opening Paragraph of "Strangers On A Train"

"The train tore along with an angry, irregular rhythm. It was having to stop at smaller, more frequent stations, where it would wait impatiently for a moment, then attack prairie again. The process was imperceptible. The prairie only undulated. like a vast, pink-tan blanket being casually shaken. The faster the train went, the more buoyant and taunting the undulations."
--- Strangers On A Train, Patricia Highsmith

October 23, 2013

"Why Done It" - A Short Review Of "A Judgement Of Stone" By Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell, writer
Ruth Rendell, writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Eunice Parchman Killed Coverdole family because she could not read or write." This is the first line of the mystery fiction A Judgement Of Stone, by Ruth Rendell. So there is no mystery. But really, I read on with great interest, because what would be a greater mystery than "who done it", is "why done it".

Eurince Parchman is a illiterate by chance, or by misfortune. This "handicap" brings her discomfort, humiliation, and ultimately: fear. To avoid this fear, she is incredibly ingenious in handling "dangerous" situations. But how much she can do to avoid nightmares created by herself? How could such a simple problem not being solved through the course of her 48 years life? We would have clues after we read the book.

Not only this book displays a stunning darkness of human nature and how it was shaped, but also it reflects an unfortunate fact: there really is a limit of what our kindness can do. Sometime, our good will could be extremely fragile when facing some twisted personality that has been gone too far, too stubborn that it is impossible to be mended. It becomes a "stone", not anymore a human being.

This is the first book of Ruth Rendell I read, already I am impressed by her genius insight of humanity. I am excited to read more of her masterpieces. Thanks Ruth Rendell for rendering such a profound insight into a brilliant art work!

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Apathy Or "Joyousness"? - A Thought Over The Darkness of Human Nature

Empathy
Empathy (Photo credit: TonZ)
In recently days I had some emotional disturbance over a small casual "social" encounter. This small social event again, demonstrated some dark image of human nature to me, that is the lack of empathy. Actually "lack of empathy" is an underestimation. What I really saw is a kind of mental state which I would name it as "an unconcealable joy upon others' suffering".

Yes, lack of empathy is far from the worst. I just finished reading a mystery novel "A Judgement In Stone", written by Ruth Rendell, in which she brilliantly demonstrates what is "lack of empathy" (This book is a real classic!). Lack of empathy is just apathy, which would not motivate people to do harm to others, unless their lives are threatened. No, what I refered here is much worse. it is a kind of "joyousness" brought by others' suffering. Yes, this kind of feeling does exist in plenty of people's minds, and when facing others misery, they feel so "happy" that they could hardly disguise their emotion as anything else.

Sadly, I witness this fact through my ordinary daily life, now and then, more or less. Am I too sensitive? Or am I exaggerating facts?

It is one thing to kill for survive, another to kill for pleasure. I always wonder why during those historical disasters so many people were capable of committing stunning atrocities, wonder why those serial killers, torture or death executioners could go through all those gruesome "procedures". The answer is "pleasure". They "enjoyed" what they did.

I am not saying those people I interacted with are exactly this kind of "evils", but they do remind me this mindset. I believe this mindset truly is the "champion" of the darkness of human nature, and it is responsible for many unnecessary man-made miseries, and it exists widely, more or less, consciously or unconsciously, in many people's minds. And when time is "right", it will do great damage, just as we witnessed before in the course of human history, again and again. Like Hu Ping (a contemporary Chinese philosopher) said: "People always put the word "kind" to all the weak individuals, but what they do not know is, the reason some of these individuals appear to be "kind" is only because they do not have chance to be evil."

It will be a much more serious topic to think of why people act like this. By studying history I have some clues, but it would be too immature for me to explain in this short post. All I must point out here is, that the people who possess this "evil" mindset are not "evils" by nature, they are normal people, even "kind" or "nice" people in many people's eyes. Truly, if we look at human society from evolutionary perspective, there is really no "good" and "evil" exist, only "mechanism". That is, what drive people to "good" or "bad" sides are not "God" or "Satan", but natural elements, include the genes, natural or social environments, experience, etc. So by this view, we would understand better why people act like this way. (Really, if you read "A Judgement of Stone", you may really understand why Eunice Parchman kills Coverdale family with cold blood.)

However, isn't this view harder for our human to swallow than the religious view, which we could put responsibility to "God" and "Satan" for all our “deeds”? Do we not to feel more lost, more helpless if we know that all these tragedies were driven by natural causes? My answer is "yes". But to know is better than not to know, because only if we understand darkness better, could we do better to avoid it happens.
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October 15, 2013

Religion And Morality

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
--- Steven Weinberg, physicist.

October 14, 2013

"Can I Paint Background Black?" --- A Question That Challenge My Patience

#10 (1952) by Mark Rothko
#10 (1952) by Mark Rothko (Photo credit: wordherder)
Quite often, I heard some of my students asking me "Can I do this?' or "Can I do that?" I repeatedly told them, that in this class, they have 100% freedom to do whatever they want to do with their projects. The question that "bugs" me even more is "Can I paint background black" or "yellow" or "orange", some of them even asked me with a expression of ridiculousness, implied that there must be something you just CANNOT DO. Of course, my answers would always be: of course you can, if YOU REALLY LIKE IT!

Seemingly these are questions long for freedom, but somehow I saw just the opposite: they are asking for permission, asking for demand. These students really wished me to give them a certain rule to follow so they could be successful with every single projects. I often see this attitude among those whose parents have the highest expectations, those who also have high expectation on their teachers (in this case it's me). And these students would be  frustrated or discouraged, even stressed if they could not reach their goal in very short period of time.

Since the beginning of my art classes (2009), I was clear with what I could and could not do with my teaching. What I could do is teaching students some basic techniques and giving them opportunities to discover themselves; what I could not do is giving them inspiration, making them "talented". I told my students that I do not teach "how to paint a tree", "water", "mountain", or any specific subject, rather, I only teach "how to paint". In other words, I teach basic rules (such as perspective, shading, color principles, etc.), and let students use these basic rules to deal with subjects by themselves. Most of students (especially those self-motivated) could understand this idea quickly, put themselves in "experiment" and have fun with it, but some students couldn't seem to understand, only feeling lost when there are no certainties to rely on.

Averagely, I found younger students seemed to welcome this teaching method more than older ones. Also same students could change through time. i.e., one girl was very creative when she just came to my studio a few years ago, now she is over 10, she seemed to try very hard to find some rules to follow, and confused when I refused to give her specifics.

Sometime I would feel impatient when facing such kind of questions too often, especially when I saw the mental laziness or complete dependence (on me) in their attitudes. But sometime I would remind myself that they are still too young and could be very confused by all different kinds of influences surround them. So I took a deep breath, be patient again next time.

Freedom is a good thing, is the soul of art, soul of joyful life. Unfortunately, it is not always comfortable. I knew this when I first read Erich Fromm's Escape From Freedom (and later my life experience seems to prove his point). Now, teaching young kids, I realized, that even at this early ages, freedom is not welcome to everyone.

October 11, 2013

It's Not About Art, But "Who I Am"

Out-of-print books may be found at libraries o...
Out-of-print books may be found at libraries or specialty book stores. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An old friend just called, informed me that she knew a gallery in New York, which collects print-makings, which she thought I would be interested. After thanking her for her good intention, I told her that I was not interested. I do not have any print-making works on hands. "Why not make some?" she asked. I said I could not make "some" just by demand. If I do any, it has to be by inspiration, which I don't get very often, and which means I am not qualified to be a professional artist. She mentioned that reason I had problem with art was that because I didn't value art as "high" as it actually is, and she thought that I did not appreciate myself enough. NO, I said firmly, I know how valuable art is, but it's just not WHO I AM.

I got this comment very often through my life. So many people looked me in a way they looked at a master, mainly because my skill and my background. For many people, choosing a career is a matter of its "social value", which means how others value the things we do, not the value how much they enjoy doing them by themselves. Art seems to be something revered by most people in this world, that's why many people often told me that it is a shame if I don't continue doing art. Especially, considering that I had already spent so much time of my life on this career. But deep inside, I knew if I forced myself doing what people think I should do, I would feel miserable all my life, no matter how many compliments I receive everyday. I still remember long time ago, when I was found "hiding in home" studying math for one whole month, one of friends stared at me with remark: "Are you out of your mind?" The truth is, I had most fun in that one month.

Well, it is true that I had spent 30 some years in art career, and 30 some years I struggled trying to get rid of it as a profession, which imposed on me since I was too young by my parents. Now I did, by teaching kids art, I could spend most of my spare time without doing any art works. I just cannot imagine anything better than that.

Yes, life is short. We all have right to be happy. Now a cup of tea in hand, a book in another, I am simply in heaven. Of course, if my readers and I think I hate art, will not do any in the rest of my life, I must say, we are all wrong. I never know what I want to do tomorrow morning, even next minute after this moment. Isn't this a fun mystery to play with? Yes, life is a mystery.

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September 26, 2013

Wide Open View

North Carolina has plenty of trees. As a tree lover, I would certainly not complain. But sometime, I would have a strong urge to pull these trees away, or split them apart, because they block my view. I want to see through, see what's behind, and I want to shift my attention away from details of near view, land my focus on something as distant as horizon.

Today, after being sick home for a few days, this urge resurfaced without anticipation. Books and internet suddenly became so boring that I could barely stand them. I had to go out.

The ever-changing water waves. 
Atlantic Ocean is 3 hours away, so I chose Jordan Lake instead, which is merely over 15 minutes driving from my home. It was already late, after 4:30pm, but my need to be with open nature was so strong that I would go out even it's dark night. I had already prepared some green tea, so I quickly changed, took my tea and my camera and rushed out. 5 minutes later I was on country road toward the lake.

Only a little more than a few minutes driving my eyes were rewarded by an large farmland. As soon as the farm jumped in view, I felt my focus was widened and my unconscious stress was relieved. The comfort by such a simple view brought me a rush of joy, reassured my spontaneous action. I saw two handsome horses grazed leisurely behind fence. They just had no idea how much I wanted to hug them. I tried to stop somewhere to take pictures, but there was nowhere to park. So I drove on.

Late afternoon Sunshine broke clouds.
About another 5 minutes driving, I saw the water, the open view of Jordan Lake. My heart started singing. Soon after I arrived at beach. I could not wait to touch water. Quickly parked, I walked straight to the shore, put my hands inside water. As promised, the flow of coolness and softness were transmitted to all my body. Then I lowered my head, almost touched sand, looked toward water from the low view point. I got what I really wanted - my eyes traveled through water surface to the infinite emptiness of sky, so free and relaxing that I literally felt I was flying in the sky. I rotated my head and body in several different directions, just trying to look at the view from different angles, and each of them were indeed amazed me in different ways. Finally I found a stone that I could sit on. So I sat there, absorbed the wide open view in silence.

A dog swam back to the shore after
capturing a piece of wood.
The beach was quiet. Probably because it was a weekday and already late. There wasn't even a boat on lake. The only human beings I saw was a couple of young lovers sitting in distance. They were wise to come here at this time, so I thought. They had a dog, who moved around excitingly, barked a few times which broke the silence. Later I saw the guy throwing a piece of wood toward water, the dog instantly jumped into water, swam to capture the wood and swam back. I quickly got my camera and captured the moment.

It has been cloudy all day long, but when I stayed at beach, a few sunbeams broke clouds, brightened empty lake. The most part of view waw still gray but the west side was touched by some warm pinkish color. The light flashed on the water surface. How the water played with it was the most fascinating. I do not remember how long I stared at water waves, bewildering its puzzling illusory motion, which forever shifted away from the focus, led my thought into a farther, wider yet more shapeless enigma.

I went back before dark. The satisfaction made me feel OK to be indoor again. The rest of evening was quiet, which reflected the quiet moment at lake. Later, after I edited the photos I took, I found the only thing I wanted to do was writing down my short trip, extending the joy I felt under the wide open sky.
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September 20, 2013

Life

Life (NBC TV series)
Life (NBC TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Life is not the way it's supposed to be, it's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.
--- Virginia Satir
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September 16, 2013

"Mountain Has Its Height, ..."

English: Traunstein Mountain seen from Traunki...
English: Traunstein Mountain seen from Traunkirchen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I found these wise words in a Chinese forum, just translated them into English:
------------------------------------------
Mountain has its height, water has its depth, there is no reason to compete;

Wind has its freedom, cloud has its tenderness, there is no reason to imitate;

Search for whatever you think is joyful; dwell on whatever you think is worth; appreciate whatever you think is happy. There is nothing would not be judged, there is nothing would not be envied;

Be truthful to yourself, follow your heart, there will be no regret;

There is only one path in life: your own path;

There are two treasures of life: good health, loving heart; (Original text: "young heart")

There are three kinds of friends: those who lend money to you; those who attend your wedding; those who attend your funeral.

There are four adversities in life: can't see through, can't give it up, can't lose, can't put it down.

There are five maxims for life: persevere no matter how hard it is; take it light no matter how valuable it is; restrain your spending no matter how rich you are; be passionate no matter how cold you are.

There are six fortunes in life: physical health; knowledge; dream; belief; confidence; courage.
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September 13, 2013

Good Intention

Good intentions can cause bad outcomes only when "good intentions" are not good, or the persons with good intentions possess very limited intelligence or wisdom.

September 2, 2013

Evolution Vs. Creation

English: Human evolution scheme
English: Human evolution scheme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Evolution doesn't necessarily disprove the existence of "creator", but it seems to disprove a "God" that is in favor of human.

August 22, 2013

Spirituality

The reason that we humans are so obsessed with our spirituality or mentality - its pain and joy, or its power, is precisely because of our completely helpless physical vulnerability. 

August 21, 2013

Mental Suffering vs. Physical Suffering

The exaggeration of mental suffering usually is caused by the lack of - or the oblivion of - physical suffering.
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LI SU COULD BE SAVED

(Caution! Texts in red color might be disturbing)

LI SU COULD BE SAVED
A Petition To Chinese Legislature Regarding Family Child Abuse In China



This is a petition letter to Chinese legislature with respect to family child abuse crime in China. We urge government to take actions to refine the existing child protection law, deprive the custodial rights of parents who seriously harm their children, bring criminals to justice. We appeal government to put effort on establishing official organizations for protecting children. We also urge Chinese government and society to raise public awareness of the seriousness of Family child abuse in China, and the responsibility of society towards children.

20 years ago, in Xining, Qinghai province of China, a 5 year-old girl was tortured to death by her biological mother. Her name was Li Su (苏丽). During her short life, Li had been suffered all kinds of mental and physical abuses, included verbal abuse, beating savagely and starving. More horrendously, not only once, Li's mouth was sewn together with needle and thread. One day when Li was 5 year-old, due to tremendous hunger she begged for foods, but what her “mother” did to her was feeding her with hot boiling cooking oil. After this astonishing torture, the “mother” did not send her daughter to hospital, instead, she continued physically abusing her for days, until Li finally died of unimaginable suffering (1).

While Zhiyun Yan (燕志云) – Li's mother - certainly is not a only person in the world who is capable of committing such crime, Li Su could be saved if the society had a better child protection system. During all those years Li Su's situation was well known to neighborhood, and once was even reported in several newspapers, but she was nonetheless left alone, lived in her “home” until her young life could not endure anymore. Under such circumstance, Li Su was more a victim of society than a victim of an individual criminal.

A quick look at some recent cases. June 2013, in the city of Nan Jing(南京), Jiangsu province of China, 2 girls,1 and 3 year-old, was left alone at home for over 100 days and starved to death, due to the completely incapability of mothering (2); July 2013 in Guizhou (贵州) province of China, a man was arrested for brutally torturing her 11 year-old daughter for 5 years longincluded pouring boiling water to the head, sewing the mouth together, using needle pricking fingers, etc.(3) . In 2013, Shuicheng county (水城县) of Guizhou province, a 12 year-old girl “Xiaoyan” (晓燕), after her body was burned literally all over with hot fire rod by her parents – mostly her mother, escaped from “home”. Several days later she ended up a local police department. After Xiaoyan's father handing a “letter of repentance” to police, policemen sent Xiaoyan back to her parents. Soon she escaped again due to her parents' continuing physical tortures. Now Xiaoyan is staying hospital and allegedly under good care. Her fate is unknown (4). There are many more similar cases from time to time. All these cases reveal one fact: children in China have no protection except their families, and if the families happen to be problematic or violent, these children have absolutely no helps from else where.

Child abuse, by all means is the worst type of human crimes, yet it is often neglected by society. The seriousness of child abuse, first lies in the complete innocence and vulnerability of children. Every single child in this world is innocent, and every one of them is completely defenseless before adults' attack. And it is precisely because of this reason, it is the duty of the society to protect children; secondly, the seriousness of child abuse also lies in victims' long term suffering. Physical wounds of child abuse victims may be healed in short period of time, but mental wounds would last for long term. Some of victims would even suffer mental illness for their entire lives; thirdly, because victims of child abuse usually carry tremendous emotional traumas, very often, they can be harmful to themselves, or to others, thus they can be potential danger of society. Due to all this reasons, any civilized societies should have elaborate legal systems to supervise all families with young children, to make sure that they are safe.

Child abuse in China has been a historical problem, yet it never been confronted by society. Corporal punishment to children is perfectly acceptable based on Chinese tradition, so millions of child abuse crimes have been simply “invisible” to public. Further more, as the world largest population, even if the victims of serious child abuse in China are minority, it is still an incredibly large number. Under such circumstance, if there are no actions from Chinese government, the condition for Chinese children would only get worse than what it is.

Even though before Li Su died China had already established child-protect law,, but the sentences to criminals of family child abuse have been extremely mild. Zhiyun Yan, who tortured Li Su for years and finally took her life, was only sentenced 7 years in prison. Shihai Yang (杨世海), the man who torture his daughter for 5 years long, was only sentenced for 1 year and 6 months in jail. We see no sign of justice at all in these verdicts. The real obstacle for the current law to protect children in China is the Chinese ancient tradition: children are parents' property. Because of this obstinate ideology, the law doesn't stand firmly when it related to parents' custodial right, and the implement on this regard is completely lame. By far, among all child abuse cases in China, no matter how serious they were, not a single parent's custodial right has been deprived. This fact, doubtlessly caused children endure much more unnecessary suffering. It is the objective of this petition to urge Chinese legislature to refine the existing child protect law, to create an implementable legal methods, bring those parents who commit serious crime to justice, regardless the their relationships to victims.

A functional Child-protect system would not stop at punishing criminals, more importantly, it aims to “protect” children. So the ultimate goal of this petition letter is to appeal Chinese government and society to put effort on providing a “home” to those children who suffer violence from their parents. We suggest that China government adopts some existing child-protect systems from other countries, such as founding organizations of children protection, setting up children protective hotlines, etc.

Last but not least, in addition to law enforcement and organization of child protection, we also urge government to use all possible mediums, such as news media and educational system, to raise the public awareness of family child abuse situation in China, to advocate the responsibility of society in terms of protecting children. The cultural tradition of China has been focused on elders for thousands years, many Chinese people are still unfamiliar with the concept of child-protection. We believe only when people understand the importance of child protection, could they cooperate with the law, help the legal system to function as it means to, thus the situation of children can be more effectively improved.

A just and healthy society should understand the vulnerability of children and protect them. Children, on the one hand is the most vulnerable group of society, on the other hand they are the hope of the future. Healthy children will bring society a brighter tomorrow. For such reasons, we strongly urge the Chinese legislature to put this issue as an immediate agenda, take actions to change the situation, bring Chinese children a safe and healthy environment.

REMEMBER LI SU! SAVE THE CHILDREN!

(The End)


Notes:
1, People's Public Safety, January 18th, 1991. (《人民公共安全专家报》1991118日,第二版
4, http://learning.sohu.com/20130126/n364688803.shtml



August 9, 2013

Quotes From Story of Civilizatoin (War & Individualism)

(But) for the most part war was the favorite instrument of natural selection among primitive nations and groups.
... It (war) acted as a ruthless eliminator of weak peoples, and raised the level of race in courage, violence, cruelty, intelligence and skill. It stimulated invention, made weapons that became useful tools, and arts of war that became arts of peace. ..Above all, war dissolved primitive communism and anarchism, introduced organization and discipline, and led to the enslavement of prisoners, the subordination of classes, and the growth of government. Property was the mother, war was the father of the state.

Individualism, like liberty, is a luxury of civilization. Only with the dawn of history were sufficient number of men and women freed from the burdens of hunger, reproduction and war to create the intangible values of leisure, culture and art.

----Will Durant

August 7, 2013

Age difference

Oscar Wilde said: "The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.”
Here comes mine:
Children believe everything; teenagers disbelieve everything; young people know everything; middle-aged people doubt everything; old people accept everything.


August 4, 2013

Individual Happiness

Happiness
Happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The more tragedies we saw in this world, the more we should try to make ourselves happy. This is because the only way to make this world less miserable is to appreciate lives, and the most directly individual lives we could appreciate are ourselves.

August 1, 2013

Generalization

English: A diagram illustrating graphically th...
English: A diagram illustrating graphically the generalization process, using trees. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Generalization should be a means to understand, not a means to judge.

July 30, 2013

"Truth" Or "Goodness" - The Difference Between Science And Religion

Issues in Science and Religion
Issues in Science and Religion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Somebody said Oscar Wilde said, "Old people believe everything; middle aged people doubt everything, young people know everything." Based on this quote, I found I was quite "normal" to doubt lots of thing these years, because I am middle aged!

Things I've doubted the most were science and religion* (or faith). When I was young I was a science "believer", but later I found the science had its limit, and realized that believing science was not much different from believing "God". So, it seems to make sense to say, that there is not much difference between science and faith. But I am not satisfied with this thought. I found these two fields are still essentially different: one is derived from an objective thinking style: to know, or to understand how the world (universe) works; another is derived from subjective thinking style: to wish, to hope, so that human kind would be mentally in a better condition, either during or after our lifetime. Science respect facts  ("fact", or "truth" here mean anything that can be verified by our sensory organs), regardless they are good ("good" means "favorable") for humans or not; on the other hand, faith focuses on humans needs, regardless what they believe are true or false.

From this point of view, we'd better not ask truth in religion, nor, seek morality or emotional comfort in science, though these two fields do cross each other at some points. Take the human origin as an example. Both science and religion have their interpretations on this subject: science says human evolved from lower life forms, religion says humans were created by God. People from different sides always demand each other for proofs. I would say, please don't ask science to provide evidences for evolution, because if there were no evidences, there would be no such idea; also please don't ask believers to provide evidences for God, because the beauty of faith is "blind". To say evolution is completely an objective view, not only because it was based on evidence, which means no one would just invent such idea by imagination, also because no human being would be "spiritually" or "emotionally" benefited by knowing we evolved from lower life forms. On the other hand, to say faith is subjective, not only because we got this idea out of our imagination, but also the idea makes us feel good. Imagine, if the story of Adam and Eve was true, would we not feel much better by knowing we are protected by God, and a guaranteed life after death? So, from this view, science and faith, which one would be "truer" should not be a dispute, and which one would make us feeling better but may not be true is also obvious.

Science doesn't always do "good" to human, because it does not mean to - it is out of our curiosity, an instinct that is like our sex drive, or our appetite for foods. To simply put, we just need to know, regardless of the outcome; faith is not always truthful because it doesn't care about truth, it was created for consoling our desperate living situation. The reason that science and religion fought so violently for centuries, by my opinion, is because most people confused by the essential difference of these two fields, so they ask science for "good", religion for "truth". When people found that science can do "bad", they think we should not at all believe whatever science says, and when people found faith is not "true", they would think we should be completely cynical, not to have faith at all. They forgot that these two fields derived from different side of our brains, serve for different purposes, and they have their respective necessities for humans. Unfortunately, I found many people, probably majority, due to many reasons - possibly both natural (biological) and cultural (educational) reasons, only possess one type of thinking style, either subjective, or objective. Only in minds of some, maybe minority of population, these two thinking styles can coexist peacefully.

By saying "these two thinking styles coexist peacefully", I did not mean they (science and religion) should negotiate with each other, thus lose their own attributes, rather, I mean their difference is granted by their "owners", and the owners know how to use them for different purposes, such as, when concerning about "truth", or facts, they go to science; when talking about value of our life, struggle in despair, fighting with injustice, pursuing happiness, they would hold faith without hesitation.

So, science and faith, rather than letting them fighting with each other, we probably should realize that they can be "friends" to each other, and leave them as they are, without change their identities.

Hope I don't sound so confused after all. :-)



-----------------------------

*In this article, "science" means scientific spirit, or an objective attitude towards the world, doesn't include all contents under the full definition of "science", such as scientific knowledge, discoveries and technology, etc.; "religion" here means faith, or spiritual attitude towards the world, doesn't include religion institutions and doctrines.
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July 28, 2013

Disappointment And A "Period"! -- My Battle With Confucianism Is About to End

Wang Xiang (Osho) ice fishes for mother's meal
Wang Xiang (Osho) ice fishes for mother's meal (Photo credit: Claremont Colleges Digital Library)
It has been frustrating. After I initiated two blogs and one facebook page for Su Li's Day (a day for remembering a girl who was tortured to death by her own mother, also for all child abuse victims in China), a netizen friend suggested that I should write a petition (a joint signed letter) to legislature in China, to appeal for actions in Chinese government to concern this issue, to establish a more executable law and some organizations for children's protection. I thought this was such a great idea. Though I knew this may not work out, I wrote a draft nonetheless, just to see how far this could go. However, after I posted the draft in the forum of CND (Chinese News Digest) and another Chinese popular website, asking for advices or suggestions, and support (by sending me their "signatures", basically just names), the responses were very disappointing. Only a few people responded, most of suggestions were neither geniune, nor relevant. And needless to mention some of them were scornfully discouraging. Even though dozens of people supported the idea before I made draft, only two people sent me their signatures after 3 days since I posted draft.

In 2011, some school activity: washing parents' feet. Serving 
parents (like "slaves") is the primary teaching of Confucianim. 
Personally, I do not believe China has much hope from within. If we want to see some progress in humanity in this society, some fundamental cultural ideology has to be changed, even eliminated, but very few Chinese people would agree on this view. Many people (include some none-Chinese) might see China appears to be very strong now, but please be aware, that the recently decade of soaring economy was promoted by international markets, together with all imported technologies. Under such glowing surface, the disparity of rich and poor, the degeneration of morality accelerated by the same speed of economy rising. And for solving moral problem, again, Chinese society turned to Confucianism, an ancient outdated yet lifeless ideology based on ancestor worship. This ideology was superficially "destroyed" by Mao, especially during Cultural Revolution, but after economy "prospered" during recent couple of decades, Confucianism not only did not weakened, but revived. I was saddened a few days ago when I heard that "24 Filial Piety Exemplars", a notorious traditional Chinese moral teaching text, virtually nothing more than a book of child abuse, again appears in some elementary schools' textbooks in China.

After being disappointed by all of these, I realized, that this open letter I drafted, which nonetheless will be read by some people, would be a "period" of my over ten years serious thinking about this subject - how the widely spread child abuse in China relates to Chinese tradition. As an individualist, I have no interest, nor energy to involve in any social activities, writing this petition letter was completely motivated by my own personal conscience. And I am fully aware of that this petition will be like a water drop in ocean, soon disappears without any trace of it. I am just fine with that, because I understand, when facing such a stubborn tradition, the real solution lies in collective effort. And if the society doesn't make any effort, or if the collective effort went to wrong direction, the solution would have to rely on some natural/historical mechanism, which doesn't always favor human-interest (if you know what I am talking about).

Yes, I am disappointed, but not personally unhappy, because my interest will move on, from this "Chinese problem", to some much more fascinating "human problems". (Oh boy, I am certainly not a problem solver, but a problem finder. :-))


*The illustration above is one of 24 Filial Piety Exemplars which tells a (adult) son lying down on icy surface of river, using his body temperature to thaw the ice, in order to get fishes for his mother to eat. So please don't be fooled by the beautiful art style, the content is sticky!


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July 8, 2013

Quote From "Story of Civilization"

... in calling other human beings "savage" "barbarous", we may be expressing no objective fact, but only our fierce fondness for ourselves, and timid shyness in the presence of alien ways. ---Will Durant, Story of Civilization.

July 7, 2013

Two Different Kinds of Human Problems

There are two different kinds of human problem: the problem of human, and the problem of cultivated (or civilized) human.

Who was Su Li? What is Su Li's Day?

(Caution: If you are emotionally fragile, this post may not be suitable to you.)

After I posted my article "'Filial Piety and Child Abuse" - an article I wrote two years ago, in a Chinese forum, an online friend suggested that I should initiate a community to memorize Su Li and promote the awareness of child abuse situation in China. I thought it's a good idea. After I initiate two shared blogs, I also started a facebook page "Su Li's Day - Chinese Child Abuse Awareness Day". Below is what I wrote in "About" page in facebook page:

Su Li
Su Li (1988 - 1993, "Li" is first name, I put her name in the order of Chinese custom just for the a better recognition by pronunciation) was a little girl who lived in Xining city, Qinghai province, China. Through her young life, she was abused and tortured daily by her biological "mother" Yan, Zhiyun (I have to put quotation marks simply because this woman is not deserved to be called as "mother"). How she was tortured was beyond any humans' imagination - not only being beaten up and given little or no foods at all, her mouth was - at least twice - sewed together with needle and thread - only because she was so hungry that she stole some  chicken feed. During the last several days of her life, just because she begged for foods, she was fed with hot boiling cooking oil, and together with other physical abuse. She finally died.

After she died, the coroner from police department found no intact skin or flesh on her body, inside and out!

This monster Yan, Zhiyun, the women possibly committed one of the worst crimes in entire human history, was only sentenced 7 years in prison. This may sound strange to a country that still practices death penalty to murders, but the reason for Yan, Zhiyun's special sentence was simple, because she is the mother of Su Li. Parents do everything for children's good. Does this reason make sense to you?

After Yan, Zhiyun got out of prison, she went straight to destroy Su Li's tomb, to release her immense hatred or rage, whichever, that no humans could comprehend.

Su Li's situation was not hidden from society, it was known to the neighborhood and once even was reported by a newspaper. Yet, her "mother" never was punished, and no one thought of rescuing Su Li from her evil "mother". Su Li was left alone, lived in the living hell until her young life could not bear anymore. I understand that "evil" like Yan, Zhiyun can be traced anywhere in the world. but only in China, she (or/he) could go this far without hiding herself. For me, Su Li was more a victim of society, a tradition, than a victim of an "evil" individual.

In China, for thousands years long, under principle of "filial piety", children are "belongings" or "properties“ of their parents. Parents have absolute power over children. Parents are entitled to "teach" their children in anyway they think is "appropriate", include corporal punishment. Corporal punishment is totally encouraged, if not advocated directly, by Confucianism - the mainstream Chinese ideology, which still dominates Chinese people moral thoughts and behaviors. This tradition has been ingrained inside most Chinese people's mind so deep that even a sacrifice like Su Li doesn't seem to be enough to make it shake.

Su Li died over 20 years ago, yet numerous similar stories are still witnessed, heard, and thousands, millions of Chinese children are still being abused by their biological parents, everyday, more or less by different means. That's why it becomes so necessary to do something, call all the people, Chinese or non-Chinese, to remember a life like Su Li, to remember what she suffered,  and think about what we can do to make a change.

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