He lay on the ground, the cold solid ground, finger crossed on his chest. It was the end of November. The sleet sneaked inside the shabby house, wind blowing from broken window, rambling with loud cry and silent tears.
His barreled wine bought from family workshop and tobacco leaf bundled up still stayed silently in the corner.
He wore a blue Chinese tunic suit which he never had before. The tailor worked all night to make the clothes. Eventually he had a brand new suite to wear, in his funeral.
He was my uncle, and a farmer.
Being my parents’ second child, I was illegal and should be invisible. Two months after birth, I was secretly sent to countryside to live with my uncle’s family, escaping from officials’ inspection.
I grew up in the countryside until I was five years old. The backseat of his old-fashion bicycle was my version of Cinema Paradiso where nature unveiled its beauty and where my first lesson was taught– revering the earth.
When frozen land fully melted to muddy soil, green grass broke above the earth and wild flowers scattered along the country alley. Spring rape flowers yellowed the whole fields, bees buzzing around just like Nice in Van Gogh’s painting.
Summer nights, the family slept outdoors, stars twinkling, dogs barking occasionally mixed with frog sound. Wind blew over, spreading fresh smell from paddy field.
In the harvest season, tipsy wind gently blew the rye into a rolling golden wave, dazzling, spreading fragrance of ripe wheat. Polar trees stood alongside the country lanes like a straight guard. Sun shined through clattering leaves. The sunset illuminated farmers’ faces as they were cutting rice under the fading sunlight, hay stack standing behind. His back shadow stretched in the autumn sunset amid the bustling field.
The tiny village was his kingdom. His world was about sowing in spring, fertilizing in summer, harvesting in autumn and selling crops in winter year after year like seven hundred million farmers in China, working early in the dawn and back home in the dark.
Satisfied with inferior liquor and self-made cigarette, he accepted his destiny and seldom complained. But poverty branded his life in the worn-out jacket, air leaking windows and paint peeled off bicycle.
“Will you take me to big cities and take care of me when I grow old?”
He asked me the same question since I was 5-year-old until he died unexpectedly. Back then, growing up was such a distant and strange word. All I cared was how to catch crabs with my little friends in the river.
So I simply nodded.
Years after he passed away, I was told all his life, he never went to anywhere more than three-hour trip.
In countless days of farming, facing down the earth and back towards sky, he held on to his simple faith and homespun values, seeking survival and harmony from the earth.
“Do not ever waste even one single grain of rice. Always respect the earth’s bounty,” he repeated this to me since I could barely grab chopsticks by myself. “The earth cultivated our life and culture. We are all farmers’ children,” his words still lingers till this day.
This is a poem dedicated by his life to the earth.
Year by year, countryside view seldom changes meanwhile a commercialized trend is taking over the society. Young generation is escaping from the land, pouring into big cities, seeking fortune and a new metropolitan lifestyle. Working on the earth stands for an outdated choice and an impoverished life.
The scene of gleaners coming back home in the sunlight glow with joyful smile and light laughter is fading into history.
Ten years after him passing away, I went back to the small village. There, on the green rice field, his grave hides silently amid lush rice leaves, covered by overgrowing weeds. A few steps away, a farmer, wearing a straw hat like his, was fertilizing.
The real poet, my uncle, fulfilled the last chapter of the earth’s poetry, by becoming part of it.
We are witnessing a historical moment, a moment that has been waiting too long.
Earlier this month, Washington State passed the law of legalizing same sex marriage.
On Dec 6, media poured into King County, to cover the story.
After 35 years together, 85-year-old Pete-e Petersen, with her partner, 77-year-old Jane Abbott Lighty, were the first to get a license.
“We waited a long time. We’ve been together 35 years, never thinking we’d get a legal marriage. Now I feel so joyous I can’t hardly stand it,” said Petersen.
Here is what I do, using Storify to collect these messages.
They are called the post 80s.They were once treated as the Beat Generation. Criticism, doubts and worries flowed upon them. And right now they shared the same name “dwelling narrowness. “
11 Miles away from Zhongguancun, with only 2,700 local residents while more than 37,000 university graduates gathering, Tangjialin is treated as a typical miniature of the living condition of the young generation.These young men come from all over China to Beijing,struggling to realize their dreams while suffering an impoverished and undignified life.
Drifting in a prospective city, away from family and friends, they dive into the concrete jungle, forge ahead in the indifferent environment while having nobody to listen to and to share the ups and downs in their life. Loneliness, stares these youngsters, silently.
As this situation deteriorating，it will eventually jeopardize their mental health,many of them will falling into a state called Mentally Homeless. Tragedies happened, in 2008 a girl who lived in Xiaoyuehe, a populated area in Beijing for university graduates, jumped in the river and ended her young life. Her dream and all her beautiful wishes vanished in the cold winter.
You can’t bargain with the city. For some young men, dream is not more capital or driving force but a unrealistic burden. New generation keep high aspiration and they attempt to encounter more opportunity and achieve their life goal in the first-tier cities.
But the fact is not always that optimistic. When they turn to internet for spiritual comfort, when struggle for existence has become the top priority, when complaining about the city has become a daily routine, how can you say you can still afford your dream in the concrete jungle？
Weary youngsters crawl to the life that they eager to possess in capital with the heavy load that they can barely burden. For the pride it’ll bring to their family of staying in a metropolitan city and for the virtual shining future, they are actually tortured by the cruel and cold reality. But not all suffering will bring success in turn.
To the young dreamers who prefer excitement than stability, who love to be outstanding than enjoying a comfortable life, it’s actually a venture investment of keeping holding on to their expectation. They are blinded by the hyped elitism and manipulated by a childish naïve hope.
When it comes to their 30th ,maybe someday many of them will suddenly wake up and found all the years struggling in the first-tier cities hasn’t really benefit them that much and the metropolitan gold diggers are not that young ambitious any more.
As a workaholic, knowing that it’s not worthy to sacrifice the fun in life for chasing a bright career is a turning point which will lead to happiness. What we need is not only the growth in salary and working experience but also the growth of life.
As a dreamer, knowing that going back to a second-tier city doesn’t mean that you admit you’re a loser, it could also bring you a brand new and unexpected opportunity.
In the movie Chris Gardner told his son：“You got a dream, you gotta protect it.” But the truth is the price it takes to protect our dreams is way off our imagination, overload work, weakening health, overcrowded living condition.
There is no fairytale in real life. The principle of survival is so cruel that vulnerable groups will suffer in the progress of the whole nation. We want to see a nation full of dream and energy but not full of unrealistic hope and wild ambition.
We are living in fear, but sadly we almost can’t fight back.
Four years ago, one of my college teachers introduced Edward R. Murrow and Oriana Fallaci to us, who were young and had no clue about the reality outside of campus. Youngsters are always easily attracted to legends. We hold on to our ambitions of being an outstanding and courageous journalist, looking up to Murrow and Fallaci.
Future turns blur when we are gradually exposed to struggling situation of the courageous journalists in my country. I was in a class of more than 60 students, when we graduated, no more than five devoted into news career. We always blame our unique system for muzzling media. Most of the time, inside the newsroom, decision-makers avoid attempting pushing the authorities, instead they suck with it.
When Murrow decided to stand up against Senator McKinsey, the pressure he carried on his shoulder is no less than some of our chief editors today. But he still did it and he made it. He chose not to be silent and stand by, watching the whole nation being manipulated by an extremist.
Currently besides being objective, media press should always keep a clear mind and avoid being compelled by the collective unconscious. Media in the Great China region are facing a strong invasion and fast growing of populism, an undercover irrational disease. The gap of wealth is rapidly enlarging on account for inequitable distribution of wealth since China adopted “Open and Reform” policy in 1978. But more than 30 years later, we are witnessing our society greatly polarized: wealth and power is controlled by the ruling party and its acolytes meanwhile the grass roots are struggling their way out.
Populism, as McCarthyism, emerges in people’s fear, anger and insecurity towards the status quo. The spread of populism has erodes the ability of independent thinking and occupy the space of rational voice. Many newspapers, to hit a better selling record and to obtain the support of grass root, embraced and stimulated the flow of populism. Murrow has showed the right path, either we follow his footprint or we pay the price for the wrong calls.
“I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us,” in 1958, Murrow said.
HONG KONG—Reporting dissents and impunity can impel justice to be done, a Pulitzer Prize Winner from New York Times said yesterday at Baptist U, adding that covering dissent is “to give voice to the voiceless”.
Clifford J. Levy, a twice Pulitzer Prize winner, gave a speech named “Covering Russia” at the Pulitzer Prize Winner Workshop held by Baptist U yesterday. “Covering dissents is meaningful because you focus on the problems and you are showing the struggle in society to try to correct the problems and improve it,” Clifford said.
As the Moscow bureau chief of New York Times for five years, Clifford’s series report “Above the law”, focusing on the dissents in Russia, ranging for freedom of speech, impunity, social injustice to environment protection, won him the 2nd Pulitzer Prize in international reporting category last year.
The voice of dissents should be heard because people only challenge authorities when something is wrong and changes should be done, Levy said, adding that where there is “feedback between the ruler and the people”, where is “a progressing society, and that is why journalist should care the freedom of speech in China.
“Being a journalist in China or Russia, to some extent, is being a dissent,” Levy said and illustrated the first report he made in Russia. Mikhail Beketov, a Russian journalist who reported under-the-table hush money and corruption, pays in blood for his articles, fingers bashed, beaten savagely and legs amputated. According to Levy, in a society with impunity, no justice was done to the injured journalist. Levy strengthened, when reporting dissents, using vivid cases to illustrate the bigger picture is more powerful than finding someone or something is famous.
Journalists are not to crusade but to report, not to change but to tell the truth, according to Clifford Levy. He said journalists should always remember “not be part of the story” but to “write the story”.
Tatyana Kazakova, a former village mayor in Siberian who stood up to protect her people, was later set up by F.S.B., a successor of K.G.B., in jail for more than two years and was forbidden to meet her children. After Levy’s report “Russian Mayor Irks Security Agency, and Suffers”, suffering the pressure from the public opinion, F.S.B. sent her free.
“As journalists, we believe that by what we are doing, we are focusing attention on problems of society and often we are causing something good to happen. And it is better than salary,” Levy added, “it is just as good as huge salaries.”