Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Think of Me 

Back in the summer of 2018 I attended a presentation of Phantom of the Opera at my previous university (CYU) and took this video of one of my former students. I shot this with the camera on my Samsung tablet, so it is not professional by any means, but I think you can kinda get the feel of the Moment.

Rainfall is not a Drama major or even an English major, but like so many of my students, she is willing to step out of her major field of study (Chinese Language and Literature) and try something new. These kids love a challenge. I love watching kids perform—I always have—it’s part of the great fun of being a teacher. And as soon as I say “kids” I have to stop myself. My students are not kids anymore. They are entering adulthood and taking on the challenges of life. Rainfall is a graduate student at Peking University now—she will probably get a Ph.D and become a professor somewhere. Oh, how swiftly fly the years!

When it was young it would have been hard to imagine the change that has taken place in China and Chinese young people. I remember as a young person reading reports of the Red Guards in my Weekly Reader, bemused by the intensity of their devotion to a leader and system that we considered hostile to everything decent because of reports we had heard and read about the persecution of Christians. In those days, reports of persecution in China were not the sensationalized hyperbole that you often get today. Christians pastors really were spending years in prison for no other offense than preaching the gospel.

Never in those days could I have imagined that I would one day be sitting in China looking in horror at American students going berserk because someone who might challenge their thinking and invite them to examine their mindless dedication to the Godless moral relativism they had been brainwashed to believe was going to be speaking on their campus. The demons of the Cultural Revolution have moved to America.

In fact, I have found Chinese university students to be much more open minded than American university students. Are they programmed? Yes, no doubt. Media is tightly controlled in China (as it is in America in a different but no less diabolical way). But they don’t necessarily yield to that programming quite so quickly. They tend to be less political than American students, because China is not a democracy, so they have never been given the expectation that they should have something to say about who their leaders are.

I have said before that the two most uninformed groups of young people in the world today are Chinese young people and American young people. Chinese young people because they have limited information. American young people because they have too much information. Americans are inundated with trivia that buries the important and elevates the least useful and least important knowledge. But when I made that observation back in 2011, I did not foresee the extent to which media in America would become openly hostile to an objective treatment of available information. It is much worse now, and American young people are much the worse for it.

To put it in simple terms, China is a pre-Christian culture, and America is a post-Christian culture. There are problems with both. But I will say that working with young people in China is much, much preferable to attempting to deal with the rage dominated university culture that seems to characterize much of American higher education.

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