The Gold Medal Weightlifter
(YCWB via Phoenix TV) China's Wang Mingjun won the 48 kilogram class at the Doha Asian Games. Her victory was guaranteed after the first attempt because the other competitiors were far behind. Wang failed in her final attempt, and she smiled at the audience and walked away.
This caused the a Chinese sports official to
angrily tell the coach: "This child has problems with her will and
character. When she failed on her final attempt, she did not feel
anything. This is not how the Chinese team should act. After the
award ceremony, you must lecture her not to do this."
(Southern Metropolis Daily) Who took away Wang Mingjun's right to smile? Xiao Shu. December 6, 2006.
Years ago, I was watching a fashion show and I got to think about it. When I see their models look so relaxed, liberated, daring and energetic, I could see that it could not be an act for this must the way that they normally live. If there is no liberty, openness and happiness in their daily lives, they could not have that look. Conversely, if their daily lives are stressful and suppressed, then it would have shown up in their tiny actions. There is no way to fake it; if they tried to fake it, it will be stiff, unnatural and flawed.
If you use this method of observation, you will easily find that we are behind others. Our fashion models are selected from 1.3 billion people. This is the biggest national population base in the world, so the hardware must be comparable in terms of physique, skin, facial features, etc. But when our models start moving, they appear to be cramped and often stiff. If you do not live freely, you lack freedom and confidence. You don't have to say a word, and it shows with just one look.
The Chinese people are tired, very tired. The criticism of weightlifting gold medal winner Wang Mingjun by her leader is the latest proof. When Wang failed in her final attempt, it was no big deal. Who can guarantee that they never make mistakes in competition? Besides, Wang had already made successful attempts and this final attempt could not affect the results as her gold medal was assured. But she was still criticized. The reason was that she appeared too light-hearted after her "failure" and she even smiled to the audience instead of looking sorrowful, dejected and worried. This minor incident showed that Wang Mingjun is selfish and individualistic, which are not the attributes of a good soldier. No wonder the leader was outraged and wanted to improve her will and even her character.
So there are standards about how to look when you win, how to look when you lose, how not to laugh when you should cry, how not to cry when you should laugh -- or, at least, there are unwritten rules or customs. For the longest time, we have seen living our lives according to these types of standards, or perhaps we should say that we were drilled as a group. After a while, even when we are alone, there is always an inner voice that reminds us constantly to sit straight, nod, smile or look pensive. It is like as if an invisible "political comissar" is always following you and directing your thinking and your life. There is no such thing as full expression of individuality or free flight of the soul.
Other people treat the theater as a living, but we treat our lives as theater. Everything that we do is theatrical. Our smiles are made for television, because we have to live up to those written and unwritten rules. How can we not be tired? How can we expect our models to the relaxed, liberated, daring and energetic as theirs? A normal person would regard Wang Mingjun as a nice person with a certain childishness and innocence. She should be praised for being that. But the opposite has happened and she was criticized and punished. A fresh and sincere character was not regarded as a virtue. Instead, there is a systematic effort to encourage people to be insincere and hypocritical. Unfortunately, this is our culture. Under such a culture, our characters are distorted and our society cannot be normal.
What is the most important feature of contemporary civilization? The most important feature is individualization. What is individualization? The most fundamental meaning of individualization is that we go back to our true selves. We guarantee that each person have the personal space to exist independently. We guarantee that each person is unique. Every person is the most precious and irreplaceable. In summary, to be human is to have an individual character. This is the universal law. We should not exclude ourselves from this law. The kind of straight-looking, standardized regimental drills -- the kind in which we are always trapped in a net and we are always being reprimanded against doing this or that -- should be terminated as soon as possible. When Wang Mingjun can be free to do what she wants at competitions around the world, to laugh or cry as she feels like and to blow kisses if she wants to, then that is when our international image will be genuinely improved. While winning gold medals at international competitions is important, it is even more important to show the world about our individualized and humanized daily lives. When the world rates China, they are not looking at how many gold medals we have. They are mainly looking at our living conditions and they are looking at whether we are free, joyful and happy.
Related Link: Confucianism v. Taoism in Chinese Popular Culture Sam Crane, The Useless Tree