Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.
I suppose it was too much to hope that I could enjoy the Olympics without having to talk about politics, but I was wrong.
I don’t even like sports, but last night during the opening ceremony, I kept getting teary. Why? Because the Olympics are one of the few moments that we share as human beings. Chances are, eyes from ever single country on this planet are watching (or watched) the same thing I was watching. Chances are good L’s family in China saw it too.
When ever Chinese person we knew was getting more and more excited about the olympics in Beijing, I poo-poo-ed it. I thought it was a big deal over nothing. But when I saw it? It was a big freaking deal. It was something Chinese people could be proud of.
It was a moment where the country of China was saying “We want to be a respected member of the international community. We want to play with the big boys. We want your respect and admiration and we are willing to bend over fucking backwards and pay through the nose to get it.”
That moment, where the admiring eyes of the world watched one of the most spectacular performances I have ever seen, was not about the Chinese government. It was about the Chinese *PEOPLE*. One-fifth of the world’s population that has been trying to claw its way back into respectability for the last 35 years. Can’t the Chinese people have a couple weeks where they can be proud of the massive accomplishments they have made in the last three decades?
Is the Chinese government fucked up? Heck yeah! They oppress their minorities, deny women and families their reproductive rights and force people to move for public work projects.
Is the Chinese government any more fucked up than the US government? It depends on who you ask. In case you are forgetting, the US government is responsible for this and this and this. Oh wait, there is this and this and this and this. Seriously, I could google US human rights abuses and misdeeds until my fingers bleed.
Do I wish the Chinese government would have saved the money they spent on the Olympics and spent it for their orphans or the poor or whatever? Sure. But I also wish the US government would save the $3 TRILLION dollars it is spending on the Iraq war to provide health care for poor people in America too. Besides, I would rather watch the fireworks in China than watch US bombs blow people up.
You don’t like the Chinese government? Fine. Protest all you want. Boycott Chinese-made goods. Ooooh, maybe you won’t even watch the Olympics. Is that going to do diddly-squat to change things in China? Heck no, it won’t.
The Chinese government isn’t going to straighten up its act if we isolate and shame them. What makes countries behave themselves is being a member of the larger community of developed nations.
When China grows up –and it WILL grow up eventually, because you can’t keep down a fifth of the world’s population if they have a lust for education and wealth like the Chinese — it will have to answer not only to the rest of the world. The Chinese government is going to have to answer to the Chinese PEOPLE. People who will eventually be relatively wealthy and educated and plugged in to the global community.
The Chinese people have tasted the Big Mac and they want more. They want more and they want to be better, just like most of the rest of the citizens of this planet.
Sure some wrinkly old guys are trying to cling desperately to their party’s place in the corrupt power structure, but then, we have that here too.
China is changing faster than pretty much anywhere else on the planet. It is impossible to predict what will happen there in 10 or 20 years, but I will go out on a limb and bet there is democracy in China in my lifetime. (Not that democracy prevents human rights violations, as the US is so eager to demonstrate time and again.) Things are changing there for the better and I expect the trend to continue, but it won’t happen over night.
It isn’t every day we get the honor of a truly global event. This week, our family is going to enjoy watching the Olympics with the rest of the world. You now, with all those people whose governments are imperfect but whose citizens hope for something better, just like us.
If you want to talk smack about Chinese politics, I am not going to provide the venue for it on my blog. Not this week.