Author Margaret Zhao struggled through her childhood to attain education, and achieved the impossible when she was accepted into university and received her teaching certificate. She came to the United States in 1989, returning to China once every five years. In China she saw great changes--more cars, bigger buildings, elegant foods--as well as great challenges: pollution, quality concerns, corruption. (see earlier posts one, two, three )
Margaret said that the U.S. and China shared many of the same challenges—corruption, pollution, moral decay. “For the U.S.," she said. "The changes have been more gradual. But before, you probably said, ‘Mrs. And Mr.’ Now you don’t have that. This western society is getting worse because you’re emphasizing on self. You have no respect to adults, authorities. You work on your rights.“
She gave an example of the issue. A woman came over and complained that a tree on Margaret’s property was dropping leaves in her yard. Margaret's husband was not concerned. In fact, his initial reaction was to tell this woman to take a hike. Surely he wasn't responsible for where a tree dropped its leaves. It became a stand-off of over who was right.
“But what is necessary is trust. How do you have trust? Religion. It doesn’t matter what religion. The authentic religions all have the same goals. The only answer is education and spirituality—and to get back to the nature and morality.”
In the instance with her neighbor Margaret remembered her religious teachings (a mixture of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, etc.), looked beyond the immediate issue, and asked, “What does the neighbor want? How can we help her?”
Margaret found a tree trimmer to take off the branches hanging in the neighbor’s yard, and asked her husband to go over to clear out the leaves that had fallen. Peace reigns.
“It could have gone a whole different way. That is how it starts—from your family, from your neighborhood, from your world. You create the ripple.”
“We are humans and we are one. We are all from the same ancestors. When we understand this, we are going to have a harmonious world.”
(Next: Fireside Chat with Previous Ambassadors to China)