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No way to realize my ideas

September 26th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yunnan Province farmer, LUO ZhengChui

I was recently browsing a collection of Adrian Fisk‘s portraits of ordinary Chinese people holding up placards expressing their thoughts. The photo of LUO ZhengChui caught my attention. She is a 30 year-old farmer in Yunnan Province.

Her message (with couple of wrong Chinese characters) roughly translates to:

After watching television, I have many ideas, but no way of realizing them.

Many people might feel sad while looking at this image. After all, it seems she is not very educated. She is obviously poor (compared to developed country standards). From her writing, one gets the impression she feels trapped; not for lacking of ideas or for not wanting something better for herself.

I am actually very optimistic. For me, she represents the hundreds of millions of people in the rural areas who will undoubtedly one day join those other hundreds of millions who have in recent decades migrated to the cities.

We have a group of Chinese people reminiscing their childhood past. (See “Father’s Prairie, Mother’s River’ – the feelings of one billion people on the move.”) We have another group (such as LUO) yearning for something better. China is a country of 1.4 billion people moving forward and in transition.

For LUO’s sake, China must continue to grow economically and have a stable environment to do so.

For a more thoughtful look, I recommend Beijing University Professor, Fan Gang’s article on this topic.

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  1. raventhorn2000
    September 26th, 2011 at 07:16 | #1

    At least she, and many other Chinese now, realize that there is a great world outside of their own existence, and yearn to “realize” their own ideas/future.

    This is the spirit of change that will continue to drive Chinese to become more enlightened.

    It pushes us to move to new places, learn new ways.

    This is the TRUE motive for why so many Chinese left China, the same reason why so many Chinese farmers left the countryside and move to the cities.

    It doesn’t always mean “more money” or “more freedom”. It simply means finding one’s true potentials and one’s “destiny”.

    *I find myself having to explain this to some Westerners over and over again. I guess folks like FOARP have given up on their “self-actualization”, which knows no national boundaries and political philosophies.

    Self-actualization is a term that has been used in various psychology theories, often in slightly different ways. The term was originally introduced by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein for the motive to realize one’s full potential. In his view, it is the organism’s master motive, the only real motive: “the tendency to actualize itself as fully as possible is the basic drive…the drive of self-actualization.”[1] Carl Rogers similarly wrote of “the curative force in psychotherapy – man’s tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities…to express and activate all the capacities of the organism.”[2] However, the concept was brought most fully to prominence in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory as the final level of psychological development that can be achieved when all basic and mental needs are fulfilled and the “actualization” of the full personal potential takes place.

  2. September 26th, 2011 at 08:43 | #2

    The biggest problem with mainland China is lack of economic dvelopement in remote area. About 40% of mianland Chinese still live this way http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-08/11/content_13094239.htm

    To be honest, I don’t see anything wrong with living a simple and honest living. However, if you need up to date medical treatment facilities, modern tertiarty education, modern standard of living, small family farming style economy is not going to provide those.

    But bear in mind that just thirty years ago 90% of Chinese live like that. As long as the economy keep going strong I don’t see why developement would be stagnant. When 80% of mainland Chinese are urbanized and thus plugged into the world economy, the remaining 10-15% rural family would have access to double or triple the farming land, their standard of living would be greatly increased, this should happen in the next twenty years or so.

  3. September 27th, 2011 at 15:28 | #3

    I have met quite a few people who are working professionals in Shanghai and Beijing who come from really rural parts of China. It is refreshing to see them buying homes and starting families. We are seeing this happening in real time.

  4. xian
    October 7th, 2011 at 03:33 | #4

    Good point.
    When people bring up “Most of China is still poor”, I can always tell them that only means there’s that much more room to grow.

  5. colin
    October 10th, 2011 at 11:34 | #5

    I’ve always said and continue to believe that China would be un-imaginably successful if the means were given to every child to pursue their potential. A robust education for every child who wants it is a key component. Human kind would see leaps unseen before if this happened. Unfortunately, we’re far from that.

  6. raventhorn2000
    October 10th, 2011 at 14:14 | #6

    As an interesting comparison:



    “I have a degree; an Associates of Arts. I stopped there, because I’d nearly exhausted the savings my parents had for me. And by 2008, I’d seen just how far a degree would get me: deep in debt. with little chance to every pay it back. A degree has become little more than pricey slips of paper, mocking us from their frames and envelopes. It took me three and half years to get that slip of paper. I’m one of the lucky ones, with no debt.

    But I also have no job. And no dreams, no this is slowly becoming a living nightmare.

    I had a minimum wage job, in another city, but I couldn’t support myself on $7.94 an hour. We had barely been getting by on two paychecks. Now I’m back in with mu parents, living off their generosity and my own meager savings. I’m applying to every job I can find out here. But so few places are actually hiring, and I am over-educated or under-experienced for nearly all of them. Or both.
    I played by the rules. I got good grades, went to college, and got a degree. I graduated in 2009, to no prospects. Nothing for me. Fast food joints don’t even call me back.

    I feel HOPELESS. I’m already depressed, untreated. I often find myself thinking of suicide, because I see no future for me. At all.

    The current reality depresses me more than anything else. There is nothing here for me to work towards. Nothing substantial for any of my friends either.
    My best friend is pregnant with their first child. At 7 months pregnant, she lost her job. She has since been rehired, but her insurance won’t pick back up for another 45 days. She’s due in 2 weeks. His family is well off, but they’re not rich. They help, but they can’t support them completely on the medical bills.
    So is that what we’re supposed to do now? Live off our parents? All of our parents are stuck as well. They’re torn between their own daily expenses and retirement funds, or supporting their grown children. Again. That is not a desicion they should be forced to make.
    We all played by the rules, and we were robbed blind.
    We sat back in blissful ignorance, and let them do this to us.
    We are the 99 percent.
    And we are sick of playing by these Greed-driven rules.”

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