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« Sun Tzu does Survivor: China | Main | "The War" and "No End in Sight" »

September 24, 2007

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Many so-called problems of modern society result from the collapse of the extended family.

In former times, the elderly resided with their offsprings. They held the power of the family, because they controlled the family's assets. In some places, especially in the villages, each clan dictated its own laws. Even when the elderly held no substantial power, the culture censured anyone who defied them.

Today, if someone left a will favouring one child above another, or which gave away the family assets, the child could contest the will in a court of law. Thus the elderly lost their financial power. Because clans can no longer enforce their laws, the elderly lost their political power. Because the people no longer believe in family ideals (such as "Four generations sharing the same hall"), the elderly are denied even titular respect.

Modern politicians complicate things, but the truth is simple. Home-care is the best kind of care, which is also free. Because hospitals are businesses looking to make money, they insist that the patient stay over for the slightest illness. How expensive is a hospital bed, and how poor the service! This is why no one in China can afford medical care. One in five hospitalised illnesses are iatrogenic. Because hospitals wish to hide their many abuses, they use every pretext to prevent family members from visiting. Hospital staffs are rude, unhygienic, and deceitful. Can home care be any worse?

The same goes for nursing homes. Today, people save money and buy houses, only to exchange them to board at a nursing home. Wouldn't it be better for parents and offsprings to live together, keep everything in the family and give nothing to nursing homes?

In former days, old-age is the time to study and perfect. Today, the elderly are oppressed by nursing-home staffs. In former days, old-age is respected, but today, it is problematised. This is true also of teenage pregnancies, and pregnancies in general.

In former times, the extended family cared for young girls who became pregnant. The husband could begin work, or keep studying. Today, these young girls are questioned by institutions, attacked by diverse psychiatrists and counsellors who supposedly know better (and always recommend giving up the babies for adoption), and stigmatised by families and communities. Instead of something celebrated, motherhood is seen as a mistake.

In former times, people felt a profound attachment to the land. They certainly would not let anyone pollute it. Today, the government and their developer-cronies in China have requisited the authority of the land. Because these abstract institutions and corporations do not love the land, certainly they do not protect it. No, indeed they destroy the land, and the people who grew up with the land.

In ancient times, farming was a noble occupation. Today, farmers are problematised.

People formerly grew up in communities. A person knew his neighbours, the elderly and the young. This person might not like all his neighbours, but he knew them all his life. This way, the elderly naturally have companions, and even many have passed on, they knew the young people who lived around them, and were respected by them. Mothers also supported one another. In this way, the social obligations which Confucius emphasised were exemplified.

This is the way people are meant to live.

Today, because centralised authority seeks to destroy all the good things of old. They demolish idyllic villages, under the pretext of "using humans as basis" (yirenweiben). All poets of old sang of pastoral scenes, of shepherds and farmers, of peasant girls and fishermen. How depraved a man is, to destroy knowingly these villages - all for profit. As for the rows of mandarin tree, the delightful fishponds, the terraces which stretch as far as the eye can see - they are no more. Instead we have concrete buildings.

Now the elderly live in concrete buildings. They are lonely, because concrete buildings are meant to isolate. So clever people induce the elderly to live in nursing homes. This is how our problem began.

Furthermore, there are armies of medical professionals, counsellors, social workers, psychiatrists, who are trained to make a capable, independent person into a weak, subjugated creature. These people are empowered by the government, which fears any non-conforming spirit. In ancient times, even the most vicious tyranny left most people alone. Today, all governments, both democratic and autocratic, intrude into all aspects of life in the name of standardisation and modernisation.

These people are by nature insecure. That's why they enjoy the surge of power in imposing, under the pretext of intervention, unjust laws. (In former times, the capable became doctors. Today, those who can afford medical schools do. Back then, doctors charged little for service, especially if the patient was poor. Today things are different, but this is another story.)

Unfortunately, there is no solution. There are a few things which can help. A community is restored when power is transferred from the central authority to local authority. A village, a town, or a city should decide its own affairs, free from top-down interventions. Decisions should be made by people who love the land, not by outsiders. Subsidies should be given to families which live together. At minimum, they conserve land. All the power-hungry professionals, which we have above mentioned, should be disempowered. In particular, the elderly, the sick, and young mothers should not be harrassed. A percentage of all income taxes should be given over to the parents of each person. Taoist and Buddhist temples should be encouraged to organise activities for the elderly (and for all people of the community). They should also provide religious therapeutics.

I have my distinct idea of medical care, which would greatly reduce cost but increase efficacy. But that's another story. Briefly, there are three reasons people can't afford medical care: expensive doctors, expensive medicines, and expensive equipments. Doctors are expensive because they have formed a guild-monopoly, which limits the number of graduates each year (especially so that only wealthy individuals attend medical school), disempowers alternative practitioners, and sets minimum prices. Medicines are expensive because of the medico-pharmaceutical complex. Modern pharmaceutics extend the average lifespan for at most seven years. But the ancient herbal wisdom is found in one's backyard. Equipments are expensive because they constantly change, for no reason whatsoever. Often equipments are bought which are not needed. This is because of the complicity between the medical profession and the medical industry. All shortages result from the abuses of the system. In ancient times, no one complained of a lack of medical care, even though there was no medical care. Even the poorest villager could afford doctors and medicine. But that's another story. At minimum, we should disempower hospitals from deceptively inducing and charging for hospital stays.

Nevertheless, all the abovementioned suggestions will not happen. When intellectuals and governments conspire as part of an unconscious system, how can any man resist? Instead of something nurturing, modern society is a beast which devours its citizens. My only suggestion is that all people should learn about the empowering knowledge of herbalism, preferably when they are young. And when death comes, let there be no fear, for what exists shall always exist, only illusions can come and go.

When children and the elderly are sacrificed for the sake of private monetary profit, we have wittnessed the collapse of civilization. I am ashamed of any part that I have played in the unfolding of this inhuman commercialization of life.

May our creator give us the wisdom and courage to find a better way.Many of us are willing.May God grant the same will to all.This is my prayer.

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