I annoy myself with my ignorance. This didn’t happen as much when I was younger- either I wasn’t so ignorant then or I just didn’t realize how very so I am, but now it really annoys me. Also, I’m confused over how much I’m ignorant versus stupid (okay, not very intelligent) and you add to that the middle-aged, hormone imbalanced adelpation I suffer (that, for example, is an ignorant use of language), plus all this recent emotional upheaval, and frankly, my dears, I’m a mess. This paragraph, to whit.
Okay. This all started when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning (naturally, it was yesterday’s paper). Actually, it started when I stopped by Sparkleberry Springs and that’s because, while I’m fascinated with the natural world, I know a little about a lot and not a lot about anything. (This is the sad outcome for slightly smarter than average children in public schools. They get to coast through on the additional standard deviation without challenge and then you end up with a nation wasting it’s potential gray matter. I started at the University of Michigan not able to use the library. Seriously. All of the work in my high school was so dummied down that I never had to go to the library to make the grade.) I would add that Wayne at Sparkleberry knows a lot about nature and I learn things over there. But as I do so often, I digress.
Back to the Wall Street Journal article. I don’t get the Chinese. At all. I do not understand these people, their culture, their society, how they think or what makes them tick. That leaves me feeling frighteningly ignorant since there are so many of them and soon, without going into a political rant about our country’s inability to function as part of the global village, they’re going to be running the show. So I hear. But then, what do I know?
This article was about a woman named Chang Lianjun. Mrs. Chang to you and me. Do I understand how the Chinese organize their names? No. More ignorance. And let me remind you, there are so many of them that this would be good information to have. Mrs. Chang is living behind a 10-foot wall in the heart of Beijing. Now you know why this particular article caught my eye. Except she’s parked on a plot the size of about a dozen football fields rather than a standard Chicago lot, which is 25 by 125. Outside her walls are towering high-rise apartments with millions of inscrutable Chinese. Where she lives there used to be a "warren of 1950s apartment buildings" that was home to several thousand working class residents but those apartments have all been torn down now to make way for towering buildings that will house hundreds of thousands rather than several thousand. Now, there is just Mrs. Chang, her second floor apartment unit, the stairwell and the empty apartment below her. Why? Simply put, Mrs. Chang refuses to leave because she has "no other place to go."
Mrs. Chang has held up construction for a year because she won’t budge. A year, people. In the heart of Beijing, this 43 year old woman has refused to move and she has held up construction for a year.
So here’s what I don’t understand: Even considering the possibility that she is starting to be perimenopausal and has scary hormone-induced rages (this was in no way alluded to in the article. I’m projecting because I am so much the center of my egocentric universe that everybody must be like me, an attitude I find intolerable in Washington)- okay, even if she is one of those scary feisty little Chinese women who don’t take any
shit guff, WHY IS SHE STILL THERE?
The article says the Chinese government is "trying to take a softer line toward some who have been forced to relocate. Instead of its old focus on speed the government is putting greater focus on justice and social stability."
This is the same government that clubbed to death 54,000 dogs in the streets last month because of an increase in rabies. Three people died of rabies in the Yunnan Province and they clubbed 54,000 dogs to death. They didn’t round them up and euthanize them because that was too costly. So are inoculation clinics. They just whacked them. They paid people 12 dollars apiece if they whacked their own dogs before squads of government employees had to do it but, in the end, all the dogs were whacked.
Now, this is not a rant about whacking dogs- really. You know I think a society needs to value all of it’s living creatures and that cruel treatment of animals is an affront to humanity. You know I feel that way and you do, too- so no rant is needed. No, this is a post about my ignorance.
I don’t understand the Chinese and I think I should know more about them. From where I sit, they look as though they are having some serious issues with priorities and media spin, same as we are. Could someone explain this to me? Why Mrs. Chang, bless her little Chinese heart and more power to her, is hunkered down on 14 acres in the middle of Beijing, holding up a billion dollar construction project and they can’t think of any alternative to whacking 54,000 dogs? I would really like to know. This and a lot of other stuff, too.
Tomorrow I’m going to tell you about acer macrophyllum because that’s something else I know a little interesting bit about and it’s closer to home. In fact, you saw it here yesterday. Bet you didn’t know that.
(I just get weird on caffeine. Really.)