Monday, August 04, 2008

The China Olympics - To Cheer or Not?

Well, August 8 is almost here and we will soon be treated to what might be the most controversial Olympics since the 1936 games in Berlin.  No, we wonít have Hitler and the Nazi flag waving, but...what about the persecution of Tibet, the low level aggression toward Taiwan, the violence towards Fulan Gong and of course the harassment of Christianity. 

So what is someone dedicated to justice, mercy, truth and righteousness to do?

Well first off, letís be honest.  China is not the worst nation in the world right now when it comes to general violence towards its own people. You have of course North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Burma.  Oh wait, who is the only nation trading with every one of those nations, supplying their military?  Oh yea, that would be...China. 

But of course we have seen millions move from poverty to a better living condition in China these past few decades.  But wait, this has happened by forced movement of large populations to work in factories that would never fly in the United States of EU, while the workers are housed in dorm conditions, only see their families a few short times a year, and risk losing their jobs for the least offence.  In other words, China is now in its feudal stage. 

And then of course there is the whole militarism.  Yes, I know they think that Taiwan belongs to it.  But do you really want to have a nation running around with missiles and battleships every month? 

But all that will be mere backdrop as the Chinese government puts on a glitzy show for the world.  And they have right to be proud.  Different elements of the Chinese culture have indeed been around for over 2 millennia and from the Great Wall of China (which incidentally didnít exactly do the job) to the pottery, to the poetry, and much more, China deserves the respect of other nations. 

Having said all that, China today is not an ally of freedom, of human rights, or of much of anything to the free world.  Yes, they produce all of the junk that we buy at Wal Mart, but, that is not the work of an ally but of a supplier.  China’s ambitions are China’s, and that means they will pursue what China thinks is important. 

Of course, many of the pro-China people I speak to, both from inside China and outside say that the problem is I look at the world from the lens of an individualist.  China, as so many Eastern nations, thinks about the group and that sometimes the individual must suffer for the sake of the group.  Certainly our extreme individualism, practiced by many in the West, does need a corrective, but I think that is what I and others who are deeply troubled over these games are doing.  Personally, my life is probably net-benefiting from China.  Whatever effect they have had on increasingly prices of commodities and food, they produce low cost materials, they add to the larger culture, they are very warm and very easy to embrace as a people.  Personally, China’s greatness is great for me.

But I cannot think of myself alone.  I must think of:

a) The worker from the inland portion of China who sees his family once a year, whose wages do not really move his family into prosperity, and whose life is increasingly reduced to mere economics.
b) The Fulan Gong practioner who is in a labor camp and knows that he risks the possibility of being killed for his organs.
c) The Tibetan historian who knows that her people’s history is being systematically destroyed and replaced with a version that is Han-centric.
d) The black African Muslim who suffers under the JanJaweed militia, supplied by the government of Sudan whose wealth comes in part from deals with China
e) and of course, my brothers and sisters in faith who are locked up, beaten, persecuted generally because they need to worship Jesus in the way he calls them to, even as they continue to pray for their leaders and live, as the Bible instructs us to, as good citizens of their nation who seek the prosperity of their city and nation.

I love China.  I love the people, the culture, the history, their greatness.  We have nothing to fear from the Chinese.  But today, from points in Africa to North Korea to Taiwan and places in between, millions are suffering because of the arrogance, the ruthlessness, the control, and the deep seeded desire of greatness that drives the Chinese government.

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So, in the end, I will watch a little of the Olympics, and I will pray for the people of China, that they may be free to achieve their collective and individual greatness.  I will pray that the government learns that control of the spirit of people is ultimately the work of either the fool or the tyrant, and that they may lead their people into sensible freedom.  And most of all, I will pray for the millions, especially in Africa, who suffer today because the Chinese government sees no problem in dealing with nations and leaders who see political and ethnic violence as the way forward.

Following a God whose nature if mercy and justice, righteousness, truth, love and above all holiness is never easy.  And it does not get any easier when NBC and the Chinese propaganda machine bring you the smiley side of tyranny 24/7 for three weeks straight. 
So I will not protest, but I will (and I invite you likewise) pray justice and peace reign high above those Olympic rings.

Posted by Christopher on 08/04 at 11:46 PM
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Quote "Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He is himself the way." Karl Barth.

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