That was the question posed by Ben tonight at our cruise ship’s hokey talent night program. Ben is painfully earnest and his jokes are made sweet because of his tortured English syntax. It was a good question for me to contemplate as I face reelection for my 4th term on the Duluth school board and think about the ongoing aftermath of our nation’s 2016 election.
I believe I mentioned how much Claudia and I enjoyed the cynical Australian TV series “The Rake” a couple years back. After 2 seasons we had to wait 2 years before seasons 3 and 4 made it to Netflix. Well, a week before China they appeared and we binge watched them. They are a devil-may-care hoot in the Aussie take no bullshit tradition. And last season the Rakes’ writers had the best riff on the Trump phenomenon of anyone on television. We saved the last four episodes to watch on Claudia’s kindle while we were in China and I hope its no spoiler to say Canberra will never be the same.
Joe Stilwell had the same attitude toward politicians eighty years ago as the Rake all the way up to his Commander and Chief. It’s a universal feeling and I got a healthy whiff of it today at the Chinese grade school we visited in Jiangsu a “medium sized” city of five million. (Viking Cruises sponsors it and it pays for poor kids schooling)
After its students gave we tourists a spirited performance, under a ferociously hot sun, we gathered in the 4th grade classroom to ask them questions and have our money belts loosened up with good will.
We asked the shy children to tell us what they wanted to be when they grew up. One boy wanted to be an athlete. The girl who let Claudia listen to her device’s earphone and her American pop music wanted to be a singer. A third boy said something that so surprised our guide that he suppressed a smile and told us he’d translate it after we got back on the bus.
The nine-year-old had explained that he wanted to overthrow the Chinese government.
Trust me. We all wondered the same thing. Would the boy get in trouble? Nope. He just embarrassed his teacher. The youngster also made clear how much China had changed.
Our guide joined us for dinner tonight and we had a frank conversation with him about this. He explained that the boy was parroting what he heard at home from rural people who detest the petty corruption they endure from party hacks. While he didn’t want China to have a government overthrow he viewed the boy’s comment as a sign of healthy skepticism blowing across the land.
As our cruise director explained – some things need to be changed regularly.