Olympics

It’s been a long time since I’ve written – been pretty busy lately, plus my wife has been sick this week. All but one of the American students has returned home, and tons of our regular attenders have returned to their hometowns for a couple weeks before the next semester starts. So things are starting to slow down a bit. Which is great – with this type of work, we get two slower times a year to carefully plan what we’re going to do when the pace quickens and things get a little out of control.

 

Of course, the Olympics is going down now – which is, as you might imagine, a big deal. It’s not like having the Olympics in America. We don’t hardly care anymore. I mean, Salt Lake City? Come on, honestly. But if you caught the opening ceremony, then you kind of get an idea of how huge this is for them. It’s really not just Beijing’s Olympics, it’s China’s Olympics. We had an activity that night at the church building – played some games, had an international dinner, and watched the ceremony on the projector.

 

Believe me, you’ve never seen such a goofy display of patriotic pride. They clapped like crazy for everything – every part of the performance, every person they recognized. Lots of fun to experience that with them.

 

Tons of talk about how this Olympics is affecting and will affect human rights in China. There’s more than 100,000 police officers patrolling the streets of Beijing, there’s cameras on most every garbage can in the city, and there’s microphones in thousands of taxis to be activated at will by the government. But there’s a major difference in hearing a Chinese person tell you that info (smiling, with an air of pride and awe) and an American telling you (shocked at such an obvious violation of privacy). This seems to be a major cultural difference. I could be wrong – but it seems that Chinese people put a much higher value on security and safety than western culture. At least I hear people say much more often, “you should do…., it’s safer like that.” And they’re proud of all these “privacy violations”! It means that they’re secure and that bad things can’t happen.

 

Guess we don’t think about things like that in the States as often, probably because we’ve all got the illusion of invincibility. That’s why we all think speed limits are unconstitutional. Of course, I think the government isn’t primarily motivated by providing security for the people (though I think that’s a big part of their motivation), but I think that’s why the majority of people are so willing to accept high levels of control. To them, privacy on the altar of security is quite acceptable. Ought to be a balance somewhere.

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