Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Monday, February 23, 2009


I was riding my bike to church yesterday morning along the Fourth Ring Road, when I saw a police officer holding his hand out stopping all traffic, which mainly meant me, since I was the only one going the wrong direction. I was curious, since the Olympics are over, but then I saw the police motorcade, and began to search for the main car. Pretty soon I saw the big limousine with the American flag. I couldn't see Hilary in the back seat, because the windows were shaded, but I figured she must be in there, because she's been in town this weekend. When I rode into the church yard, the place was crawling with cops. I guess Hilary came to the early service. Presidents and Congressmen usually go to the early service.

But Hillary didn't address the congregation like the Congressmen did last summer; she came and went without much fanfare (that is, as much as such a thing is possible for someone in her position).

There was lady in the churchyard bemoaning the complete lack of human rights in China. she said she had tried to get in, but the cops kept her out. I don't blame them, I guess...church isn't really the place for that. But I don't blame her, either. Lots of dispossessed people in China. A young man was watching the whole display, and, as I started going into the church, he ran after me, and said, "America has human rights problems too." He seemed very self-conscious about the whole thing, and probably assumed that I was just a tourist, or something. Of course I agreed with him. America also has human rights problems. But I also pointed out that China does have some weaknesses when it comes to providing legal remedy for those who need redress. Even that, though, I could not say without a tinge of guilt. The right to redress of grievances is supposed to be inherent in the American system, but it must be admitted that it doesn't always work that well. He quickly reminded me that China has many more people than the United States. Point taken. Still, there are issues with the way China handles the problems of people in the countryside. I don't know about this lady's problem in particular, but there are many cases throughout the countryside, of corrupt officials expropriating the homes and property of rural people without adequate compensation.

Hillary is interesting. When dealing with notable people, most folks tend to be a bit cynical because of the way celebrities put on a good face, but are actually real monsters in private. And it's not fair to blame only celebrities. The problem of duplicity is addressed clearly in the Bible. We are enjoined to be the same person all the time. In Japanese, we say "honne," and "tatte mai." The first term is the "real you;" the second term refers to your public persona. The assumption is that most people are not as "nice" as they appear on television. The "gossip" about Hillary is that, while she has tended to be polarizing as a public figure, and sometimes appears confrontational, most people say she is a very nice person when you get to know here. I have to say that I would not have been entirely comfortable with her as president. But Secretary of State is a job for which she is probably fairly well suited. The jury is still out, though. Her comments about human rights seemed to indicate that she was willing to put that issue on the back burner. True, the Americans have lost a lot of moral authority in recent years. But if America does not make an issue of the rights of the dispossessed, which country is going to?

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