Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The imperfections of sustainable thinking: childhood's China and the reality of the situation.

(This is a continuation of a series on bicycles, China, and everything else . . . leading to what I am discovering as the sustainable future mind. Stay tuned.)

I’ve been distracted lately by the increased government activities reported on China’s human rights and public interest lawyers. The cross fires of international talks sparked the surge of web traffic and it seems now the pulse of dissent is beating a bit faster and stronger requiring China to take more drastic measures. With the recent arrest of famous artist Ai WeiWei and the hotly discussed Li Zhuang case amongst Western lawyers and academics, I can’t help but feel nervous for this year’s passing of June.

I’ve also been scantily pontificating about bicycles. I had no idea why. It started from my nostalgia for the Beijing I explored as a child on two wheels. I eagerly drew connections to the sustainability topic that plagues my brain threes days. I wasn’t sure how I could finish my thoughts and complete the series; perhaps I can never reconcile the ending of my stories about the China I imagined until China gives creativity back to its people.

But I am where I am.

I am here because there are two different sustainability issues and I needed to learn a very important lesson about them: the physical sustainable practices of riding bicycles and the metaphysical sustainable practices of reasonable human rights and rule of law; neither one of which can stand alone. Beijing just happens to be the epic center of deterioration of both types, and it is a stage set for dramatic things to come. The government, in all of its infinite wisdom, has decided to tackle the physical problem, and continue to ignore and worsen the metaphysical wounds of the human sustainability. This is purely a profit decision, and it has nothing to do with wanting a sustainable future. The Chinese “Green” movement is a complex mix of desperate needs and government foresight sprinkled with denials and fear and human greed. Information is suppressed and the country continues its struggle. What shall China be tomorrow, land of trash and democracy or green fairways and communist autocracy?

The blog series has led me to this cruel and ironic point: what I do with the idea of sustainability is entirely mine, but if I should intend it for the good of the community I should heed to the physical practices of sustainability and metaphysical exercise of a sustainable mind. I need to leave behind the China I imagined and stop pretending there is an ideal answer. Compromises have to be made and fights must be picked. To plant a tree is one thing, but to nourish an idea is another matter, and being Chinese I need to learn how to do both well; yet both are interrelated to the purpose of why we should care: because we are human beings and we should strive to be better; not to be perfect, just better.

I don’t want Beijing to go back to its bicycle days; that would be impossible. There would be no money to be made for the rich and the spoiled. I don’t want Beijing to go back to its revolution days; that would be impractical. There would be no books worth burning and no idealist to publicly humiliate. (Laugh, it's a joke.)

I want Beijing to move forward; to remember its darker days. I want China to stop peddling sustainability and start peddling respect for the rule of law and its deeper philosophical lessons. In exchange, I shall peddle more of my worthless philosophies and demand that China and the rest of the world see the holistic beauty of sustainability: physically able and metaphysically about survival.

more to come . . . 

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