#511 Little Green by Chun Yu

Little Green by Chun YuLittle Green by Chun Yu

The Cultural Revolution was a strange time in China’s history. People put on the act of  patriotic citizens while their world seemed to fall apart. The way of life as they knew it changed. Things they once admired were now things they weren’t supposed to admire. Traditions they once held dear were now outlawed and considered to be Four Olds.

Little Green grew up during this time. She was very young when it all started and can’t really remember the how or why of things changing. When she was quite young her father was sent away to be re-educated. He was kept away from the family a large portion of the time. Out of all the people considered to be bad people during the cultural revolution intellectuals were considered among the worst. Little Green’s parents are both teachers and that means they’re bad.

For a while Little Green lives out in the country close to her grandparents and relatives. She enjoys the way of country life, but looks on confused as people are ordered to pull up their gardens all for the sake of communism. Little Green is never too busy to observe the little things of life; even though communism has changed everything, Little Green takes the time to look at the nature around her.

Eventually, Little Green grows up and has to go to school where she wears the red scarf. She is asked to make a speech in front of ten thousand people. She remembers that people are executed at these meetings. Their bodies are carried away in front of a crowd.

Mao does die; he is not given the ten thousand years everyone says he will have. After Mao is gone the world changes some.

What I liked

This was just another view into the world of China under the Cultural Revolution. In each view I see it’s obvious this was a very tough time for everyone, but it’s a piece of the world’s history and it’s something we should know about. It was a movement that set out to do good, but it ended up doing the opposite. You have to remember that in theory communism is a great idea, but it all goes to crap when people try to put it in practice. None of us are in a high enough plane that we could live communism or anything like it in a manner that would benefit everybody. In the end a few of us screw it up for all. If this idea had actually worked out for China, we would probably all want to follow in their footsteps, but it didn’t work out and it never will.

What I didn’t like

In and of itself the phrase “cultural revolution” doesn’t sound like a bad thing? Who doesn’t want their culture to be revolutionized a bit? Maybe we could have one ourselves and stop Photoshopping people and then try to ignore these celebrities that aren’t really celebrities at all. Cultural revolution turned out to be a very bad thing for the people of China. It was extreme. People were told to forego tradition and worship the worker.

As a tangent not speaking of the book, let’s look at this idea shall we? Not that the working people of the world are bad or anything, but they’re not really the people you model society after. Workers are great for getting the things of our world done. Without them we wouldn’t have houses and garbage would be piled a mile high in the streets, but it’s generally not the workers who revolutionize the way things are done and create new businesses. The people who do those things are generally college-educated people, the intellectuals. There have been people in worker type positions that have gone on to create amazing businesses, ideas, and inventions, but that’s an exception, not the rule.

These days people tend to mix more. We have more available to us. Your garbage man could be listening to Shakespeare audio books while he picks up your garbage. Anybody can educate themselves these days, but this wasn’t the case in China during the time of the Cultural Revolution. China’s idea was flawed because it worshiped the farmer. Farmers are great, but the farmers of China at the time didn’t know anything about keeping society afloat. Mao modeled the ideal person after the farmer only for the farmers not to know anything that wasn’t about farming. They had no education. They knew about vegetables, but vegetables won’t teach children in school or develop relations with foreign nations.

Something about this book and not about the Cultural Revolution I didn’t like was the fact that the entire book was pretty much in prose. Instead of the book saying, “I went to school when I was five,” it’s a poem, not a rhyming poem, but it’s a poem.

Here’s my deal, I like poetry, but I don’t love poetry. I’ve read poetry before. I even used to write some poetry back in the day. I can be quite poetic when I want to be. With all of that said, I don’t generally enjoy reading poetry. Poetry to me, often seems like a way to avoid what you’re really trying to say. If you want to say it’s morning, say, “It’s the morning,” not, “the orange sun crests over the hills, light penetrates the dark crevices of night.” Although the second option does sound quite nice, it’s not a direct route. Maybe I’m just too impatient for poetry, and of course this is coming from a person who wrote 3000+ words about Rapunzel and why the story was about abstinence and teen pregnancy. So, go figure.

Overall

I’m glad Little Green was able to survive the Cultural Revolution of China and she ended up with her immediate family intact.

Weigh in

Comparing Little Green to Ji-Li Jiang, who do you think had the harder life during the Cultural Revolution?

Are you for books entirely written in poetry or not? Why?

#403 Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm by George OrwellAnimal Farm by George Orwell

Revolution comrades! Rise up against your oppressors and run the farm your own darn self! Everybody is equal…but some are more equal than others.

Dear old George wrote this book as a work of satire. He was concerned that the media was being censored. The media is censored ok? Don’t argue. George puts forth an argument in the very beginning of his book all about this idea. George was concerned because some people praised this idea or that ideal in the media without presenting any of the darker aspects of those ideals. If anyone dared to voice the dark side of these ideals, they were excluded from popular thought by sheer will of the media. This happens today, this isn’t something that was only going on back when George wrote this book.

So what is this book about? This book is about a farm of animals that revolts and takes the farm for themselves. They are led by the pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, who disagree on everything. Speeches are made. Everyone is equal. Men are bad. The animals can run the farm themselves. Once an animal reaches a certain age, it will be retired to live a comfortable life, provided for by the rest of the farm. Everyone will have enough food. Each person will do the work they are capable of. The animal must put off the vestiges of man and rule themselves. It works, for a while.

Snowball and Napoleon have taught themselves how to read and write. They speak of all kinds of ideas to the animals. There is a fight. Some men try to take back the farm, the animals win. Medals are awarded. Snowball fights bravely. Snowball soon envisions the idea of a windmill. The windmill can provide power to the farm. The animals will only have to work three days a week when the windmill is completed. Napoleon thinks this is a stupid idea.

Napoleon took away a litter of puppies and raised them to be his personal body guards and cronies. They chase Snowball off one day, things get worse from there. Boxer the horse always says, “I will work harder,” and, “Napoleon is always right,” whenever he is faced with any monumentous task. Napoleon soon says a windmill will be built. It was his idea all along. The animals seem to remember it differently, but no one really says anything about it.

Time passes. Some of the farm animals are executed for supposed crimes against the great and fearless leader Napoleon. Where the seven commandments of animalism were once written, the reading members of the farm soon see words in the commandments that they do not remember. An animal must never sleep in a bed, with sheets. An animal shall never kill another animal, without cause. An animal shall not consume alcohol, to excess. One by one the rules are changed. Some animals soon become more equal than others, namely pigs and dogs.

The animals go hungry. Boxer suffers from old age and too much hard work and is sent to the glue makers, but, of course, the vet bought the van from the glue maker. Napoleon would never send his beloved Boxer to the glue maker. The pigs soon start wearing human clothes and dealing with the humans, the sworn enemies. The animals don’t have long enough memories to know if this was how it was supposed to be or not, but Napoleon is always right.

What I liked

This book is obviously very political. It is about communism. I’ve mentioned it before, but in an ideal world, communism would probably be great. The ideas behind it are ideas that people like, everyone being equal, everyone being provided for, and so on. This is all great, in theory, but it never works. There have been plenty of countries and small groups who have tried ideas like communism or ideas similar to communism, the law of consecration practiced by early Mormons was an ideal similar to communism, but not exactly communism. None of these endeavors worked. It is true that we have communist countries on the earth today. How do they fare? Is every citizen equal? Does everyone have enough food? No, is the answer to last two questions, North Korea and Cuba being countries that come to mind when thinking of these questions.

People are volatile. People are greedy. People have vices. That’s why communism never works. Sure, it’s great that everyone is equal, until someone gets tired of being equal and having no power, money, or prestige over anyone else. George’s book illustrates this beautifully, with a bunch of farm animals no less.

What I didn’t like

The treatment of the farm animals in this book makes me sad and it’s not just because I like animals. It makes me sad because they’re treated like pawns. They’re just little pieces on a game board moved around for the amusement of Napoleon and his hench-animals. They’re lied to. Outright lies are spilled from the mouth of Napoleon. No, it wasn’t Napoleon’s idea to build a windmill, but he’ll claim it and say it was. No, he didn’t do anything to deserve medals, but he’ll award them to himself anyway. Of course pigs deserve more food than any of the other animals. Of course some animals are more equal than others. Yes, you can demand the unborn babies of the chickens to be sold as a source of revenue to buy food for the rest of the community. I mean, it’s awful the way these animals are treated. They’re treated as if they aren’t their own entities.

We’ve got brains right? We think for ourselves. We can make our own choices. We’re not stupid, at least we like to think we’re not stupid. We don’t need people telling us, oh just because so-and-so says it, it must be a good idea. Shut up! Not every idea that comes out a person’s mouth is a good idea. Look Stephen King writes some awesome stuff, but he also writes crap from time to time. He’s still a great author, but he’s not infallible. Following something blindly is never a good idea. You know better. You do. You know better. Somewhere in the back of your brain, you know that what the person saying on TV is bullcrap. You know, but do you listen to that little voice telling you this is a bunch of BS? Sometimes, sometimes not.

I feel bad people are ever treated like pawns, but part of it is their own darn fault. They listen. They let themselves be taken in by all the pretty words and empty promises. The animals on animal farm knew the commandments didn’t always have additions, but what did they do about it? NADA! They were scared because Napoleon had taken out punishment against some who weren’t one-hundred percent behind him, but you know what…there’s still more animals on the farm than just Napoleon and his cronies. They could have taken over lickety-split. Sometimes, you build your own cage. Sometimes, you let yourself be walked all over. I am sad because people are treated like crap, but I’m also sad that people let themselves be treated that way.

Overall

Animal Farm is essential reading for anyone with a brain. You brain card should be revoked, if you choose not to read this book.

I leave you with a video by CollegeHumor illustrating the mentality that happens in governments similar to the one created by Napoleon the pig.

The Knapsack, the Hat and the Horn

SummaryThe Knapsack, the Hat, and the Horn

The Knapsack, the Hat, and the Horn sounds like a wild night of debauchery, but it’s not, well, ok, it really is. The man who holds these items is a jerk. He doesn’t come by them honestly and is mean to everyone. Well, I guess I spoiled part of the story, but you can still read my summary.

Once upon a time there were three brothers who were dirt poor. They even got to the point where there was no food and no way to get any. They decided to travel to see if they might find a way to improve their lot in life.

They traveled for a while and came to a mountain of silver. One of the brothers decided this was all he needed in life and filled his bag with silver and went home. The other two brothers decided that silver was not for them. They traveled on further and came to a mountain of gold. The second brother decided gold was for him. He filled his bag with gold and went home. The third brother thought filling his bag with gold would be easy, but he decided to travel on.

He traveled for days and days. He had no food and no water. He was weak and hungry. He climbed a tree to see if there was anything that looked like food around the area and there wasn’t. Disappointed, he climbed down, but when he got to the ground there was tablecloth full of food. After he was done eating all the food he wrapped up the table-cloth and took it with him.

After a while he came to a coal burner on the side of the road who was simply going to eat potatoes for dinner. The coal burner offered to share what little he had with the man. The man told him he didn’t need to do that and that he would like to share with the coal burner. The coal burner was a bit suspicious because it didn’t look like the man had anything to share. The man took out his tablecloth and told it to fill itself. Immediately there was plenty of food and both the man and the coal burner ate their fill. The coal burner proposed a trade. He would trade the man a special knapsack he had for the tablecloth. The knapsack had the special ability to make soldiers appear at your behest if you simply tapped it. They made the trade. Once the man was a little way down the road he tested out the knapsack. Immediately seven men appeared at his disposal. He told them to go to the coal burner and get his tablecloth back. They did so.

The man traveled on and came to another coal burner. This man was in the same situation. All he had were potatoes. Once again, the man offered to share his meal with the coal burner. The second coal burner was just as amazed as the first and suggested a trade. He suggested he trade a hat with special properties for the tablecloth. The hat when spun around on a head would cause twelve cannons to go off at once and destroy all that was around. The man took the trade. Once he was down the road a little ways, he used his knapsack to call his soldiers up again. He had them go back to the second coal burner and take his tablecloth back.

Again, the man meets a third coal burner. Again, he shares the food from his tablecloth. Again, the coal burner suggest a trade. This coal burner has a horn. If you blow it, it will destroy all the fortifications around the area. The man agreed to the trade. A little while down the road, he used his knapsack to call his soldiers. He had them take the tablecloth back again. After this the man decided he had enough and was going to go home.

When he got home he saw that his brothers had built fine houses for themselves with their silver and gold. They were dressed well and were generally affluent. When the third brother knocked on their doors they would not accept him. They reasoned that if they made out so well, surely their brother would have made out equally as well. The man standing before him had a shaggy hat, knapsack and horn. He wasn’t their brother. This made the third brother angry and he decided to lay siege to his two brothers.

He used his knapsack to call group of soldiers after group of soldiers. He was soon assaulting the homes of his brothers. SOon the king somehow got word of this assault and decided to take care of it. He sent his men to squash the rabble. The third brother didn’t even blink. He simply used his knapsack to get more soldiers. The king went back defeated, but decided to try again with even more soldiers. This time the third brother turned his hat around his head. So many guns blew that the king had no other choice, but to give into the third brother’s demands. The third brother demanded to rule over the kingdom and the king’s daughter’s hand in marriage. The king had to agree.

The wedding was celebrated, but no one was really happy, including the princess. The princess tried to determine the source of the third brother’s power. She tried to convince him to get a makeover. She told him his knapsack was shabby and that he should get rid of it. He told her that the knapsack was his greatest treasure in all the world. The princess made to kiss her husband, but she took the knapsack instead. She tapped the knapsack to have warriors of her own, because the man had told her what the knapsack did. The princess ordered her men to grab the third brother and take him to her father’s palace.

The third brother was quick though and used his hat. Many things were demolished. The princess was forced to beg for mercy from the third brother. She did a little more play-acting and found out the hat’s special powers and plotted to take it away. She did so one night while the third brother was sleeping. She had the hat thrown out into the street. The man woke up and used his horn. All the walls and fortifications fell down. They even crushed the king and his daughter.

There was no one opposed to him, so the third brother made himself the king of the country.

The End

The Knapsack, the hat, and the hornObservations

This dude is a jerk. First of all, he’s greedy. Second of all, he gets his items dishonestly. Third of all, he uses force to make other people bend to his will. You know what we like to call a person who does that? President…no, no I’m joking… I was going to say dictator. If you really think about it though…

Silver and gold are very nice. Even today, both metals are worth quite a bit of money. Silver and gold have always held value in our society. The first two brothers knew that silver and gold were worth something so they contented themselves with choosing the “for sure” investment, if you want to get all business-y.

The third brother becomes a tyrant. He steals from hobos. What kind of a jerk do you have to be to steal from a homeless person? Seriously? Who steals from someone who already has pretty much nothing? The government…I’m joking…I’m joking…not really.

This story has turned out to be much more political than I thought it would be.

The Knapsack, the hat and the hornThemes

Some men just want to watch the world burn…I don’t know who said that, or what it is from, but it’s our theme for this story. This third brother is a @)$&#&^@#&#(!~!!#*#&#@#($($!!!!! Yeah, that’s right, I said it. What a jerk! What a jerk! Why, yes, I did have to type it twice. I did not feel my point would get across by typing it only once.

First of all, as I mentioned previously, he’s greedy. Who passes up a mountain of silver AND a mountain of gold? Who does that. The silver would be pretty good for me, but I definitely wouldn’t pass up the gold. This man couldn’t be satisfied with what his brothers were satisfied with. So he has the ability to be on exactly the same level as his brothers wealth-wise, but opts instead for power. Hmmmm….think about it.

If you are exactly the same as everyone else, income wise, what is left to differentiate you from everyone else? Power is a very good answer. If you could have power over your fellow beings, it doesn’t matter if you have the same wealth as they do. It only matters that they answer to you. If you have power over them you can take what they have anyway and therefore have more wealth than they do.

Why is the idea of communism springing into my head? This story was written a long time before communism was a thing, but that doesn’t mean people hadn’t tried something like it in the past. I’ve mentioned before that, on paper, communism sounds like a good idea. Who wouldn’t want everyone to be provided for and have a place to live? Everybody wins. We know that isn’t how it works in real life. Everybody does not win. There is always someone who tries to assert more power over everyone else. That person can use that power to usurp wealth and resources. Have you ever read 1984? Was everyone eating fake chocolate? NO! The people of the “inner party” were eating the better-than-crack chocolate, while everyone else was eating synthetic Hershey’s bars.

This brother is a despot. We don’t really have any indications in the beginning of the story that he’s going to turn into a dictator. That’s probably true in the case of most dictators. Hitler wanted to be an artist and only decided to make a go of being a dictator after being denied entry into art school. Did Saddam Hussein’s mother know he was going to kill thousands of people when he was a little boy? Probably not. We have no indication that this brother is going anything but traveling with his brothers looking for food.

As soon as he has a little bit of power he begins to assert it over the little guys, the little guys being the coal burners he encounters. No one is going to stand up for them. No one is going to care whether they are dead or alive. In fact, many would probably prefer them to be dead so they don’t have to look at them sitting on the sides of the roads reminding them of their own fragile place in society. This brother can belittle these homeless men because no one will care. No one will come to their rescue. No police will take any inquiries into the idea of thefts. Nothing will come from this man stealing from homeless people.

See he started with the little things. It is often said that people who grow up to be axe murderers are imbalanced from childhood. They will often torture small animals and bully kids in school. Little birds are defenseless for the most part and no one is going to come to their aid if a tyrant of a child decides to pull off their wings. They start small, but gradually work their way up until they are serial killers.

This third brother is a murderer. He murders a lot of people. We don’t even know if his brothers are still alive by the end of the tale. He kills his wife and his father-in-law. He unleashes war on a kingdom. He attacks this kingdom that did nothing to him. I can see where he might me a little miffed at his brothers, but that’s not really something to kill over. This man has no problems with this king, but yet, he bends this king over his knee and spanks him. He says, “Give me your daughter, let me rule,” and the king has no choice but to agree.

This reminds me of an episode of Futurama. It’s one of the earlier episodes. The planet of Earth has gone to war against a planet inhabited by bouncing balls. The planet of bouncing balls has done nothing to Earth it turns out. Earth is simply attacking them and driving them away from their own planet for no reason. These bouncing balls did nothing to the people of Earth. Resources perhaps?

We are no strangers to one country invading another country for resources or purely because of political reasoning. There are fabricated reasons for warfare, in which some of us are quite familiar with these days. It simply takes one dictator to say, “Let’s do it and by “let’s” I mean you guys, because I’m not going to get my hands dirty.”

This man is a bully. He takes from those who are already poor. He brings warfare on those that do not deserve it. He pillages cultural heritage and brings traditional ruling powers to their knees. Did someone foresee Hitler? Was this a vision of some wise woman from back in the day? If I look hard enough will this story have been written by Nostradamus?

It just goes to show you that we as people have been in a never-ending cycle of government power structures. Remember, earlier how I was joking about the president and the government? This is what I typed:

“First of all, he’s greedy. Second of all, he gets his items dishonestly. Third of all, he uses force to make other people bend to his will. You know what we like to call a person who does that? President…no, no I’m joking… I was going to say dictator. If you really think about it though…

The third brother becomes a tyrant. He steals from hobos. What kind of a jerk do you have to be to steal from a homeless person? Seriously? Who steals from someone who already has pretty much nothing? The government…I’m joking…I’m joking…not really.”

Yes, I did just quote myself. Why did I say something so inflammatory? Why did I open my mouth to dis the government? Am I crazy? Do I wear a tinfoil hat? No, at least, I would like to think that I am fairly level-headed and only use tin-foil for making wonderful barbecue ribs in the oven.

The knapsack, the hat and the hornIf you look at history and how societies have fallen, you will see familiar patterns in many of your own societies. Yes, the U.S. has been going through a bit of discontent, but so, too, have other countries. Greece? Egypt? The U.K.? Some of these powers have been in power for a long time and they’re coming back full circle. Our governments are changing either for the better or the worse. This is a dynamic process; it happens all the time. Our countries are evolving and they don’t always evolve in a way that we like. That’s why we’re seeing seemingly wide-spread discontent in some areas of the world.

This story simply illustrates one kind of person who changes the way a country works. It just took this one man to rile up enough power underneath himself to take over a country. Just the one man. Hitler was just one man. Mussolini was just one man. Khan, Genghis not Star Trek, was just one man. We have examples of these “one man” scenarios that have forever altered the timeline of events in the history of Earth.

This story exists to point out a harsh truth. Your life can change and it can change because of one power-hungry tyrant. You might not be able to foresee it happening at all, maybe you’ll die, maybe you’ll fight, or maybe you’ll give in. We think we’re so secure and we are a bit pompous to think that. We think we’re so secure in our first-world countries. We could never end up like these feuding war zones around the world. If you think that way, you’re terribly wrong. Our place in the world is fragile and can change at any moment.

Remember this:

“No one is going to care whether they are dead or alive. In fact, many would probably prefer them to be dead so they don’t have to look at them sitting on the sides of the roads reminding them of their own fragile place in society.”

We don’t like to hear all these stories of discontent about other countries because it reminds us that our own place in the world could be just as fragile. We could break at any moment. Our lives could be just like the lives of the poor people we hear about on the news.

This story is a reminder. It’s a humbling story. Don’t get too big for your britches. Don’t be too sure of your place.

Overall

I still think this guy is a jerk. He really is. He’s a )(*$)*$^#_$@#)$*#)&$#@*$#(@*$&)#@(*, like I said earlier. Yes, I do realize that I just held down the shift key while typing random symbols, but you really don’t want to know what that means in English; it would offend you. I don’t want to offend you. Yes, I also realize that I’ve probably offended you more than once if you’ve read my site on more than one occasion. Trust me, I do not strive to offend you.

I like the idea of a warning. I like this humbling bit about this story. The world is a bigger place than we think about every day. We need to remember where some people are today is a place we can be tomorrow.