Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Belated Sentiments on the Earthquake

So over a week after the earthquake of May 12th rocked Sichuan, China, and the world, I guess I'm going to say my bit now.

As everybody knows, the quake toppled schools, stranded entire villages, and killed tens of thousands of people, mostly the rural poor. Surely, no disaster-- natural or otherwise-- has destroyed the lives of so many Chinese in the past thirty years.

I haven't said much of anything about the quake on this blog or in my conversations with friends in China or back home. That's because, honestly, I don't have much to say. No words that can be written or uttered by me are adequate to contain the grief of widows and widowers, suddenly orphaned children and wailing, childless parents.

I'm speechless.

That's not to say I've been paralyzed by grief, by any means. In fact, my reluctance to communicate on the issue and the geographic distance between Dalian and Sichuan (about 1550 miles) has allowed me to go about my day to day fairly unaffected.
(For those curious about what it was like closer to the scene, a good friend of mine living in Chengdu has some fascinating observations)

In ways I am inspired more than stricken, watching the entire country rally to the cries of a demographic that sometimes gets left behind in the nation's rush to development. Last night I attended a candlelight vigil/miscellaneous patriot assembly at Xinghai Square. A thousand or so young people had gathered to light candles, wave flags, and chant "Go China! Go Sichuan! Go Beijing! Go Olympics!" Fervor for country and country-men is awe-inspiring, even when it gets off track a little bit.

So the long and short of it is, I feel immense sadness, sympathy, and regret for all those killed and injured; I pray that everyone affected is blessed and protected; I believe that China as a whole has the strength to heal and the wisdom to repair, and that the second half of 2008 will treat this great country much better than the first half.


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