2020.3.3 The 41st Day of the Wuhan City Closure 中文日记最下
A secondary disaster resulting from our epidemic home confinement has been making my parents and “sick at the sight of one another”. To them, anything I do or say is wrong. I also can’t stand the webchats they get into on their WeChat group of middle-aged and elderly people. They are obsessed with those fanatical, brainwashing stories of how “China is astonishing the world”. We can no longer discuss matters as equals. To their deeply Confucianized selves, my unwillingness to accept their views – no matter whether I do so calmly or in furious opposition – they see as defiance to their authority. “Filial piety, is all about obedience” they say. If I do not agree with their ideas and ways of thinking, then they hit me with the big club of an accusation — that I lack filial piety.
Earlier I thought that since the decisions I make are wise enough, they will come to accept that I am reasonable, mature adult and gradually come around to my way of thinking. Later I discovered that was just my own wishful thinking. Just take this epidemic as an example. I believe that I have handled it fairly well. They however refuse to acknowledge that and avoid discussing the matter altogether. For example, although I have already been working for several years, they still will never forget that I refused to take the civil service examination. To their way of thinking, being a civil servant is the best possible occupation and best possible lifetime career for me. My rejection of that path tells them that I am not mature. We have different standards for what is “reasonable” and what is “mature” so we will never agree.
Recently there has even been nonsensical talk that “the virus came from the United States”. One day my mother suddenly said “Why is it that this virus doesn’t attack Americans but specializes in hurting Chinese people?” So following her line of thought I said, “If China is so good, why was there SARS in 2003 and coronavirus in 2020? Why is it that during that time the United States did not have such a severe epidemic?” Even before the sound of my words had faded away, mother screamed at me in a loud voice, accusing me of not loving China, adding “How could we have ever raised somebody like you?” Its always that way. There is no way that we can have a conversation. There is no thinking going on. There is no understanding There is no way that we can understand one another. I feel smothered.
Perhaps my experience is limited, but I do wonder whether that kind of close-minded, stubborn and cruel middle-aged and elderly people is specific to China or if they are found all over the world.
I have often thought that the thinking and character of my parent’s generation was determined by the special historical period during which they grew up. They were born during the “three years of natural disasters”, they were educated, studied and their world view formed during the Cultural Revolution and the years during which educated youth were sent down to the countryside. They married and started a family under the one-child policy. In the prime of their lives they became unemployed. It is as if this country made a special point of raining disasters down on that generation. I have tried to understand things from their point of view in order to understand their logic and way of thinking. Later I gave up. I just couldn’t do it or perhaps I should say that I wasn’t willing to do it – I wasn’t willing to let myself get dragged into that suffocating whirlpool. I just didn’t have the empathy for that.
I used to think that once my parent’s generation leaves this world, China would become a more generous and vigorous place and would no longer be so oppressive and narrow. Over the past two years I have gradually discovered that my views are too naive. People born in 2000 and thereafter grew up in the Internet age so one might think that they would be more broad-minded than we are and be able to accept new things more readily therefore their thinking should be more advanced and their thinking freer and bolder. I never even considered that they might instead turn out to be a malformed generation.
Among the hot topics on search engines these past few days, “fans of the pop singer Xiao Zhan” has replaced the “Wuhan epidemic”. This happened because the fans of this top-tier pop star are disgusted at the sexual fantasies of Tong Xingwen of the Zijiagege program so they organized a fan support group to make a report to the authorities. That resulted in the blocking of Tong Xingwen’s website. In fact I don’t like novels that contain sexual fantasies about real people, especially the very many authors for who write adults-only content, I believe that violates the rights of the people they write about.
I can’t accept the behavior “I don’t like you so I will report you” so that you will be put in a hopeless situation. I don’t like the evil attitude of being narrowly partisan and of excluding anyone who is not a member of your faction. Moreover, the ones who did things like that such as organizing the star’s“big fans” were just a group of girls in their third year of middle school. Others who have observed this spectacle, the opponents of the star, are now organizing their own group to accuse the corporate brands cooperating with the star of tax evasion. What is really frightening is that both sides use the same logic of raking up the other side’s past to attack them, use the same tactics, and try to absolutely destroy the other side. The spirit of the Cultural Revolution has never left this land.
Today I saw on a WeChat microblog someone saying “Reporting something is a neutral term. Didn’t Dr. Liang Wenliang make a report too?” That one left me speechless. “Reporting” is an individual taking on the cloak of authority to attack another individual. It is a very low act, it is poisonous and it is back-stabbing. The act of a whistle-blower is that of an individual exercising oversight with respect to government power. That citizen oversight should be the right of every citizen. The two are objectively different. Most young people within the Great Chinese Firewall don’t understand that logic, are unable to distinguish truth from falsehoods, lack common sense, and believe that they possess the truth. I don’t see them as being any different from my own parents although that attitude in young people has a more unpleasant odor.
Recently I have been nostalgic for what the Weibo micro-blogs were like a decade ago. Back then there was more tolerance and free discussion. There were many “old friend” whom we now can only see on Twitter. In those days the stars would laugh at the foolishness and stupidity of the little pinkos online. When people encountered others they disagreed with, they would find points of agreement and accept that they had some points of disagreement.
In those days, people still had hope that increased public interest in and participation in public affairs would change China. Now matters are completely different. Now everywhere fandom is neat and well regulated. Everywhere you go in China it is as if locusts have gone through and vampires have massacred everyone in the city.
Naturally this isn’t something that the fans have done on their own. The very idea that Big Brother China, towering in the sky, into the clouds knows all is enough to make people throw up. The best footnote to this would be the “politicization of fandom and the pop-idolization of ruler of the country”.
The saddest thing about all this is the road I have seen taken with my own eyes. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the melamine milk powder incident; the 2011 Wenzhou train collision; in 2012 the bringing of false charges against the author of the online novel Ballad of the Desert by some people who didn’t like her novelization of ancient Chinese history; in 2014 the stigmatization of journalists by the head of the Internet Security and Informatization Leading Group appointed by Xi Jinping and the July 9th mass arrest of human rights defender lawyers; in 2015 the Tianjin explosion incident; in 2016 the Changsheng Bio-Technology vaccination scandal; and in 2017 the cruelty to children at a nursery school. In every single one of these incidents I could see the influence that they would have on the future. But I am just an ordinary person, merely a mote of dust in an era and can just be swept along with the winds down to the present until today when I am battered by the onslaught of the pneumonia virus.
Finally, I should memorialize two physicians who died in the line of duty:
Dr. Jiang Xueqing, Chief of Thyroid Gland and Mammary Gland Surgery at the Wuhan Central Hospital who died in the line of duty on the morning of March 1.
Dr. Mei Zhongming, of the Ophthalmology Department of the Wuhan Central Hospital, who died in the line of duty on March 3. Dr. Mei was a colleague in the same department as Dr. Li Wenliang.
An old man who died too because his daughter had become infected with the coronavirus. His wife and granddaughter were also infected. On February 5 he tried to ask for a hospital bed for his granddaughter through the Internet. That day he learned how to post the first microblog of his life “How are you?” That old man named Liu Li has already passed away.