This morning, I received a poem entitled ” to the western world ” from a friend of mine. I have no idea where the poem was from and how many people have read this before. Anyway, I tried to translate it into English as the questions put forwarded in the poem reflect the real thinking of quite a lot of ordinary Chinese people.
Due to limited time, I was not able to polish my translation well enough. However, I tried my best to make it true to its original . I know some visitors to this blog have profound understanding of both English and Chinese languages. Your comments to the translation is welcome.
Here goes the poem in both Chinese and English:
During the opium war, when the opium smuggled from the Britain undermined our body and morality, turning us into ‘the Sick men of East Asia’, you called us yellow disaster;
When your propaganda portrayed us as “the next super power “, you said that we are a threat to all of you.
When we closed our door, you broke it through with your drugs.
When we embrace the free trade, you condemned us for “stealing’ your jobs.
When our territory was split into pieces, your armies marched in to share a spoon of soup,
When we tried to put together all the fragments back, you said we are impeding a free Tibet.
When we tried to pratice communism, you hated us because we are “communists”
When we tried to learn from Capitamlism, you hated us because we want to be capitalists.
When we possess 1.3 billion people, you said that we were destroying the earth.
When we tried to control the population, you said that we are violating human rights.
When we were struck by poverty, you thought we were dogs.
If we offer you with loans, then you will say we put your countries in debt.
When we establish our own industry, you said we are the cause to the pollution.
When we sell our products, you accused us of resulting in the global warming;
When we buy petroleum, you called that exploitation
But when you started a war because of oil, you called that liberation,
When we get lost in the chaos and confusion, you said we should rule the countory by law
When we tried to safegard the law and strike down the violence, you said we were violating human rights.
When we keep silence, you said we should be entitled to free speech.
When we utter our own voices, you said we were brainswashed or behaved too defensive
Why do you have such a bottomless hatred for us ? We asked.
No . We don’t hate you. You answered.
We don’t hate you either. But, do you really understand us ?
Of couse we do. You repied, You have AFP, CNN, BBC ..
What on earth do you want from us ?
Think clear before you make an answer
Because all you have is limited chances
Enough. It’s hypocritical to say that we have the same world.
What we called for is one world, one deam and peace for all.
This blue planet should be big enough to hold us all.
At the first read, it seems pretty reasonable poem that it reflects the truth – the timing, the reason and the results seem all accurate. Then “What’s wrong with the western world?”
However, at second thoughts, you may found out the problem in the reasonsing there: generalization plays the trick.
I think, if you add just one term in front of “you”, the poem may reflect the truth better, and don’t cause too much problem. The term is:
Adding the term transform the poem to
When we possess 1.3 billion people, some of you said that we were destroying the earth.
When we tried to control the population, some of you said that we are violating human rights.
When we were struck by poverty, some of you thought we were dogs.
If we offer you with loans, then some ofyou will say we put your countries in debt.
To generalize what is happening in part of China as the whole China, or to generalize some of the many piont-of-views as the western world opinion can cause a big problem here. What I learnt was, be very careful to use the word of “China”, or “western world”, or “France” when we talk about somethi. Even if we have to use it to form a sentence, we need to understand by using the “big term”, it actually mean part of it.
That is the logic mistake I found out in the poem. It is just like the following one:
In a football game, when China wins, Chinese people are very sad;
when China loses, Chinese peole are very happy.
What’s wrong with this country?
To explain the confusing situation, we can better explain the same fact ths way:
In a football game between Henan and Shandong,
when Henan wins, people in Shandong is sad;
when Shandong loses, people in Henan is happy.
To describe “Henan” as “China” – the example of generalization – is root cause of the logic problem. However, it is very hard to find out this kind of mistake – the same mistake as the blind man claiming the elephant is a pole. That is also the reason in many debates, I found people are arguing whether China is rich or poor – a question that don’t have a good answer forever.