Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Why should I live on now?"

"I'm already 39 and he's 44," said his wife. "We had only one child. Why should I live on now?"

The quote's from a Guardian article that paints an achingly grim picture of the aftermath in Dujiangyan, where a primary school collapsed, one floor of concrete pancaking onto another. There's a video, too. And here, via Shanghaiist, Al-Jazeera's Melissa Chan brings us more images. Uniformed relief workers bent over in exhaustion. Shadows milling in the dark. Kids extracted by their arms and legs out of hulking chasms. People ferrying the unidentified dead from one resting place to another, waiting for relatives to return them lost names, faces. Parents sobbing something unhuman. And those are just the movements of the living, who share the brunt of death with the dead, each hour their dark bruise of grief lengthening until the outer edges have discolored the heart and transformed grief into anger. When you've painted a face on tragedy you almost prefer numbers: TK dead, TK missing, TK destroyed. Almost.

Most Chinese families, I'd say, are organized around children -- this is probably true for families of any country, but China's one-child policy makes the child all the more precious. They are the parents' lifeline into the future, ensuring there will be a future to speak of. They are also, I'm sure, sources of pride, joy and hope. I don't need to wax poetic about this: you know where this is headed. The stories coming out of Sichuang are heartbreaking.

One more thing, which I hesitate to publish for reasons which will become apparent: via The Opposite End of China, a link to the Westboro Baptist Church in my home state of Kansas and a pamphlet of theirs that states "God hates China." Check it out if you want. A couple years ago I gave Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist 1,237 of my well-thought words in an online essay. They don't deserve any more.

POSTSCRIPT: The importance of "these three days," and the shame of CCTV (and President Hu Jintao), via Zhonghainan, newly added to blogroll.

No comments: