Qian Minjie: The Earthquake Changed My Cynicism

A Chinese student wrote on his blog about how he changed his cynical attitude towards China after the Sichuan earthquake.

Qian Minjie, a 23 year old graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University , said that he used to care a lot about the country’s politics and social problems, but was disillusioned after a talk with a college teacher. The teacher, who had been a student leader in the Tiananmen Square protest, told him that the enthusiasm of his generation for a better China had died out.

I was disappointed at that moment, like a furious ox being emasculated. I felt a chill to my bones. I could vaguely see my own future.

From that day on I stopped caring about public affairs. I stopped arguing with others over ideals. I stopped reading books such as A Theory of Justice and turned to English vocabulary books. I buried myself into English exams and strived for high test scores. I learned to be stonehearted. I just frowned when I saw people die in mining accidents in Shanxi province…

Chinese society seems to be prosperous and peaceful. Television dramas feature wise emperors conquering land far and wide. Numerous people dwell in the World of Warcraft and look for their dignity in video games. Bourgeois women carry their Prada handbags and wriggle their bodies in nightclubs waiting for a romantic encounter. Anxiety crawls upon the face of most men who are in their twenties or thirties. Successful middle-aged men teach people how to become a celebrity overnight on camera… People no longer smile to each other. Instead, they contemplate the real intentions behind each smiling face.

Minjie said he chose to escape the country which had disappointed him, and come to the U.S. to experience an open society. However, the earthquake has changed his cynicism towards China.

34073. This growing number has united the country in an unprecedented way. Countless ordinary people in China are joining the relief work for Sichuan Earthquake victims.

There were long queues of people in front of blood-donation vehicles in every city, including a skinny girl who weighed less than 90 pounds. They queued in the lines because they care.

Numerous young people drove hundreds of miles to earthquake-struck areas to provide help. They might be a bit naïve, but they deserve our applause.

Every ordinary individual opened his pocket, and donated part of their hard-earned money to earthquake victims. He might have planned to spend the money on his wedding or buying an apartment. But he made the donation — because he cares.

Countless people gathered in Internet forums, discussing and disseminating various information on the earthquake, because they care. A number of business owners have donated large amounts of money, without a well-functioning tax-exemption system, because they care.

34073, God rest your souls.

50 years later, this nation finally lowered its flag to mourn for the common people – people in Wenchuan, people in Sichuan, and people among us.

At this moment, please believe in the power of the ordinary individuals. Yes, we can change.

If you have donated money and you are worried it might be embezzled, please express your concerns loudly, since you care.

If you are heartbroken and furious at the loss of children to the earthquake, please speak out aloud and question why schools turned into graveyards, since you care.

If you hate those officials who would take relief money into their own pockets, please speak out and ask for the whereabouts of the relief money and materials, since you care.

If you grieve for the 34,073 lives lost in the earthquake, please speak out loud. Please urge the government to allow full development of non-governmental organizations, since you care. Only an open society can have a promising future.

If you feel not only grief, but also love and trust after the disaster, please smile to those people around you, since you care.

Please speak out aloud. Please believe that united we can change the country, as ordinary individuals.

Together, we can make a change.

May 22, 2008 12:23 PM
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