Former Morenci United Methodist pastor Dorothy Okray traveled to China with Morenci resident Lois Speed last fall. Following are some recollections of the trip.
By DOROTHY OKRAY
The secret of China’s ever escalating rise toward dominance as a world power does not lie with its low manufacturing costs. There are a myriad of countries whose people would rejoice over $1 an hour wages. It is the exuberance of its people: pride in their country’s recent accomplishments; hope for a better future; and a willingness to sacrifice not only for personal gain, but for the betterment of all Chinese citizens.
“We are one family and believe we should help those of us who have less,” explained a Beijing guide.
The Chinese pay taxes, own their own homes, primarily condominiums (few, except in the rural areas, live in free-standing homes), worry about their children’s education and health care, drive late model cars and dress like the average U.S. citizen. They have eight other political parties, but they act, essentially, as advisers. The government has, however, just recently placed two members of these outside parties as ministers in the Communist government, a real step forward toward democracy, the Chinese believe.
Where the Chinese differ from us:
• The willingness to use tax revenue for the education and health care of those in rural areas, the poorest of their country;
• The appreciation of education, with families sacrificing for their children to participate in after-school programs of music, advanced math, art, etc.;
• The emphasis on beauty, with each small space of a city devoted to landscaped works of art. The overhead freeways include hanging greens; every small nook and cranny of the skyscraper-laden cities find sculpted hedges and blossoming flowers, the parks are manicured masterpieces of the most creative landscape architects;
• and the furious pace of work to develop “green” energy alternatives.
The Chinese hope for even more freedom, but they do not wish to emulate what happened to Russia’s immediate thrust into democracy. The corruption that took hold of Russia and its inability to pay for teachers and other necessary services has taught China patience.
The Chinese do not feel the uneducated masses—primarily rural—are ready for democracy and capitalism, predicting mass starvation and chaos. Instead, they are trying to educate those people while providing them with more and more services, such as universal health care by 2010. This they believe to be the most intelligent and compassionate way to build their country. Right now, they are discussing the structures of other countries and their benefits: the socialism of Norway, Sweden, Denmark vs. our capitalism.
Of all I saw in China—from the ancient glorious buildings and breathtaking new architectural landmarks—I was most astonished not by them, but by the young children. Their genuine smiles and outgoing nature won my heart. I never experienced a whining, petulant one. This gives a person hope when we realize that more than one out of every four people in the world are Chinese.