Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Just Another Day
Today is the 19th anniversary of that fateful day in Tiananmen Square.
And yet everyone went about their business, going to class, going to offices, buying and selling goods.
It's a striking contrast to May 19 when the country stopped and everyone paid their respects to the victims of the Sichuan earthquake a week earlier.
Part of it is the government not recognizing what happened in 1989. And as a result its young people are completely unaware of the truth of what occurred in the days leading up to June 4 and the events that night.
Meanwhile those born after the 1980s, who were merely young children 19 years ago are now changing their outlook on life after witnessing what happened to the quake victims on television. They have been accused as being materialistic and self-centered.
But now there are news stories of young people renouncing retail therapy and donating money to charity instead. On the other hand, those who had saved every kuai are spending more freely because who knows when your number is up so you might as well enjoy life. And others have literally gone to the quake-hit regions to offer whatever assistance they can and are practically shell-shocked by what they see.
While this is admirable, and one wonders how long this altruistic behaviour and philosophy will last, this generation needs to know what happened 19 years ago. It is as big a milestone as this year marking the 30th anniversary of China's opening up to the world.
Not letting them know is like a blank spot in their childhood; life somehow went on but in the background something did happen.
And perhaps during the Olympics, foreign media will bring this up as a milestone to illustrate how far China has progressed.
While it has definitely developed economically, how can the country move forward when so many people don't know or cannot recognize a dark day in 1989?