What I see in China is everyone crying. It’s amazing, since the Chinese are not known as outwardly emotional people. Old people, young people, men and women, police and military are publicly shedding tears. Publicly. On national TV. Everyone.
I think the tears are old tears. The tears are for many sorrows of the past, and the recent earthquakes have been the ideal catalyst for a public emotional exhaustion. This current tragedy has allowed the Chinese people to show their hearts, to show their humanity.
And they are displaying their humanity to each other. This unity of expression will become a powerful benchmark for modern Chinese identity. Thanks to modern media, the hearts of the Chinese are open for the whole world to see, and as is human nature in times of devastating tragedy, people all over the world are united in their sympathy for the Chinese people.
There has been unprecedented international assistance welcomed by China. China has also taken great care in ensuring the safety of the foreigners in the earthquake regions. As I’ve taught in class many times: China’s problems are not China’s alone. When the world’s most populous nation makes a decision, it affects the world in some way. China’s impact and influence on the world can no longer be dismissed as discreet and personal. This is true in good times and bad. China is learning the world and finding itself. True to life’s cruel nature, people are sometimes reminded of their fragile existence. We are not infinitely strong beings. Sometimes we cry.
In China, everyone is crying. Even this horrible author. China’s tears are old, but tears are universal.