Saturday, July 18, 2015

Truth in Taiwan

Hiding deep in a recent newspaper – away from all the major stories – was a major story.

The article told how the most painful event in Taiwan's modern history is on display in two museums and a park in Taipei, the capital.

The complex depicts “the 228 incident” that occurred Feb. 28, 1947. Then Taiwan was governed by the Kuomintang – ‘nationalists’ engaged in a struggle with Mao Zedong’s communists for mainland China -- (a struggle lost in 1949).

In response to 1947 demonstrations by Taiwan citizens, Nationalist troops were brought from the mainland to squelch protestors.

They killed between 18,000 and 28,000 people, launching a campaign against Nationalist opponents, principally Communists, that lasted until martial law was lifted in 1987.

The 228 complex is an acknowledgement of an atrocity.

The Kuomintang still governs Taiwan. It was the villain here.

What if we were to acknowledge all the atrocities committed by our government?
    The decimation of Native Americans. 
    The World War II interments of Japanese (and German and Italian) citizens.
    Troops squelching strikes.
    And slavery. And Jim Crow.
    And private prisons and the incarceration of immigrants.

There are more stains on our heritage than confederate flags. None of them should be glorified or justified but all of them should be acknowledged. We would be better for it. Perhaps even less arrogant and self righteous.

Just a thought.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Nursery Logs

While on a trip with four of my friends, I took a shuttle bus to a Vancouver, British Columbia park – Capilano, a rain forest. I got there early, before the masses. A solitary guide, Katy, stood by the entrance to a walk around a pond.

She led me around the little body of water, introducing me to its wonders: ferns, salmonberries, and a nursery log.

Fallen to the forest floor, the remains of a magnificent tree had become the breeding ground for future life. Look closely and you can see the beginnings of redwoods, and pines and ferns and salmonberries.

Wandering off to other parts of the park, I saw other nursery logs – reminders of the amazing cycles of life and death that surround us. All the time. And it’s all good. And still too sad.
Many of my dearest friends are dying. So many of them from some form of cancer. Others, from Parkinson’s or some insidious form of dementia. I guess we/they are old enough – whatever that means. But it still seems wrong, unjust, unfair and far too sad.

And not sad. It occurs to me that we are each an amalgam of all that we learn from each other, and from the places we visit. Each of us is a nursery log – sprouting the ideas, words, smiles, tears and laughter that others have shared. And each of us is richer for it. Each of us – in some way – perpetuates the lives of those we love. It’s just more fun when we can see their faces