Thursday, May 22, 2008

Throwing off the slave mentality

The Chinese Communist Party's basic argument to the people of the nation of China is -- give us power and we will make sure you can regain face in the international community.  We are guardians of the Chinese people's national feelings!

The Chinese Nationalist Party's basic argument to the people of the nation of Taiwan is -- give us power and we will make sure to take care of you.  The past eight years of the other Democratic Progressive Party have been too insecure.

Both of these fundamentally are the same perspective of an emperor with his slave subjects.  Only, in its modern form, the position of emperor is held by party elites instead of a single man.  You will notice the party elites acting like dynasties.  They assume to themselves privilege and pomp.  They get fawning media to portray their glories.  And the children run for office as if being the son of a rich elite party member somehow qualifies you.  Witness the prominence in the campaign of Lien Sheng-wen, the son of former KMT chairman and presidential candidate Lien Chan.  He joins scions including the current mayor of Taipei, Hau Long-bing, son of a prominent KMT general from the dictatorship era.

Taiwanese -- whether Hoklo, Hakka, Austronesian or recent immigrant Chinese -- should not embrace this kind of slavery. (Neither should Chinese in China).  

In truth, freedom with more insecurity is better than slavery where you know exactly how much food someone else will give you each day.  

The Israelites at one time in their history were slaves to the Egyptian empire as much as Africans had been enslaved in the Americas.  When God's prophet Moses led them to freedom out of Egypt, they wandered many years in the deserts of Arabia before finally finding a homeland and place to settle in Canaan.  During those years of uncertainty, many of the Israelites expressed a longing to go back into slavery in Egypt.  "We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost --  also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic." (Numbers 11:5) They forgot the horror of the oppression where they were made to work for no pay for long hours, arbitrary beatings and imprisonments and executions.  They forgot they were subject to forced infanticide (not unlike the one-child policy and forced abortion in China). 

This longing to cast off the responsibility of a freed man and run back to the master is the slave mentality of a people that have been under oppression for hundreds of years.

While Taiwanese have been freed, have their own sovereignty and are now under full democracy, many Taiwanese still are not freed in their hearts and minds from the slave mentality.  In their thinking they are still enslaved by their past, having been under the absolute rule of the Japanese empire and then the usurped rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party dictatorship for a total of almost 100 years. This came after being (periodically) under the thumb of the absolute rule of the Manchu empire for 200 years.  

In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, many prisoners had somehow become so used to the bars and the ruthless regimen of a prison that when they were release finally after years, they could not face the seeming insecurity of freedom.  They committed suicide but a few days after leaving the prison walls.  They had forgotten the evil of being subject to abuse of power by the warden and the guards of Shawshank prison, and they forgot the evil perpetrated by their fellow inmates of rape and forced sodomy.  The main character in the movie was the only one who throughout kept his mind and heart free on the inside and so one day embraced a chance to escape to freedom.  Many years later, when his friend in the prison was let go, that friend almost committed suicide, but instead because of the main character's example, he embraced the responsibility of freedom and chose to live as a free man.

The Taiwanese people need to work through this issue in their hearts.  They are still being subject to the slave-mentality brainwashing of the education system's curriculum that portrays a prestige culture of imperial China.  Feeling like second-class citizens, many try to become more Chinese than the Chinese and teach not a word of their own cultures to their children.  They are still being subject to an alien prestige language of Mandarin, while their own languages of Hakka and Taiwanese and the Austronesian languages are far more ancient and culturally rich that the modern simplified muddied language of the Mandarin of Beijing.

Their souls need to be strengthened by the voices of freedom and truth such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who wrote about the struggle for freedom of blacks in the 20th Century, "I don't think it is a good idea to make poor blacks, or anyone else, more dependent on government.  That would amount to a new kind of enslavement, one which ultimately relied on the generosity -- and the ever-changing self-interests -- of politicians and activists.  It seemed to me that the dependency fostered might ultimately prove as diabolical as segregation, permanently condemning poor people to the lowest rungs of the socioeconomic ladder by cannibalizing the values without which they had no long-term hope in improving their lot." (My Grandfather's Son - pp. 56-57)

Is that dependency not what the Chinese Communist Party in China and the Chinese Nationalist Party in Taiwan are trying to create with citizens of the respective nations of China and Taiwan?


Babuza said...

While 奴隸 (slave) is a legal status, 奴才is a mentality.
Those brought up and educated by dictators in the east, esp. in Asia, have this mentality. They feel they themselves are the 奴才, or 子民, of the ruler.
This concept exists only, or mainly in Han character culture. Never will they wake up to be masters!
And the status is inherited from generations to generations, with no ending forever. I don't know if there's any equivalent in Western countries.

jccdoc said...

Perhaps it's because I emigrated to the US when I was 8 years old with my family, that I have the ideals of democracy and freedom. If I had remained in Taiwan, I probably would have the stigma of slavery. But then, again, my parents grew up in Taiwan and did not leave until they were in their 30's. Yet they also have the ideals of freedom and democracy.

This past election season, we returned to Taiwan to participate in the democratic process. We met many Taiwanese people who felt the same way we did. I understand the author's perspective. He has a valid point. But it doesn't mean Taiwan is doomed to be ruled. It only means the people need to be educated and their eyes opened, like mine and my parents' were. Dialog like this will help.

Joel said...

Everyone who can should take time to speak at local schools about issues of freedom and democracy and also issues of oppression. Give the next generation a new frame of reference and new expectations about how society and government should treat them. Show them their inherent, God-given value that the writers of the Declaration of Independence in the United States founded their declaration upon.