Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Beijing Bound

The communist government in China blocks many websites such as Facebook and blogs. Thanks to Bailee Clayton, who has taken my emails and posted the following entries for me.

Beijing Bound
As a child growing up in the 1950’s, China seemed to be only a land of faraway fantasy. In those days, only the rich and famous got to travel to such exotic lands. Never did I dream that times would change to enable an average person like me to travel around the world to embark on such an exciting adventure!
 It is 5282 miles flying from Vancouver to Beijing, taking 10 ½ hours. We left at 2:30 in the afternoon, and will arrive tomorrow around 4:00, losing more than half a day. I took advantage of the time to read up on Beijing history.
Beijing has been under the rule of several dynasties, with Emperors ruling the people. The great wall was built to keep out roaming gangs, but it failed to achieve this goal. Under the rule of Kublai Khan, son of Genghis Khan, Dadu, the Great Capital was built. Kublia Khan made Dadu his home base from which to advance to take control of all of China. Dadu was eventually renamed Beijing.
In 1949, Chinese Civil war broke out in response to the corrupt feudal system of Imperial rule, and communism came to rule in China. Growing up in the 1950s, I remember hearing about China being under the rule of Chairman Mao, and thinking about how strange it all sounded. Education under communism meant that children were expected to subject their thoughts to the Party for criticism. Those thoughts were scrutinized to determine whether they were good or bad, and children were taught to report on one another. Had such and such a child behaved in a way that represented the collective, was he or she a good revolutionary? “These sessions were presented as a way to help us make progress. But we were so young. Mostly, we wanted to be accepted or we were afraid of being rejected. If our schoolmates criticized us, we felt ashamed, and we no longer dared look at them; we lost our friends. The more time passed, the more we dreaded being seen as bad revolutionaries. And progressively, like all children, we were ready to do whatever was necessary to be loved and admired.” This quote comes from a fascinating book that I read on the plane called The Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations by Zu Xiao-Mei. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to better understand this time in Chinese history.
In light of our understanding of attachment in which the child attaches to those responsible for him or her at first the sensory level, then through sameness, then belonging and loyalty, this makes so much sense, as the child intuitively knows that his or her very survival depends on his ability to fit in.
Yet, are our children any different today? Do they not surrender to the pressure of culture and society to act, walk and talk in a certain way in order to be accepted? While we live in a free country and have the opportunity for our children to grow up with their own thoughts and ideas, we still lose far too many of our children to the pressure to conform to their cultural ideas of how to behave. Our role as parents, teachers and caregivers is to foster a strong sense of attachment so that the child has the inner confidence to recognize and withstand this pressure and grow into his or her own person. Having just finished another round of teaching two of Gordon Neufeld’s video courses, Vital Connection and Helping Children Grow Up, I hope to view the people in China through the attachment lens. I have some big questions given the very different cultural experience of the Chinese people compared to that in North America. The communist government limits many families to one child. What impact has that and the communist way of life impacted the social, emotional and intellectual growth of the individual?
In 1989, there was a student demonstration in Beijing, as thousands of people gathered in Tiananmen Square seeking to protest the rule of the People’s Republic. 2000 people were killed in the backlash as the military closed in to shut the protest down.
Today, Beijing boasts close to 17 million people. This is approximately half of the population of Canada living in one city! It is hard to imagine this many people living in one area, but soon enough I expect to be able to tell you all about it!

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