Tonight I bought vegetarian hot dog wieners. The checkout clerk asked me if they were good or not and why would I buy them and not meat? I told her that they tasted the same (if you close your eyes) and then I stumbled on the WHY? I said something to the lame effect that I wanted to cut back on my meat consumption because it takes more land to produce the plant material to feed the animal than it does to produce a much larger amount of vegetarian food. Ya, it was weak but I hadn't expected to be asked why. I suppose maybe I needed to answer this question for myself.
Maybe I should have responded by asking her if she knows that there is a world food shortage and that last year there were food riots in Africa. Did she know that despite living in Canada and working in an Sobey's grocery store we have some of the cheapest food in the world? That the amount we are paying to have our fruit shipped in from as far away as New Zealand and our Billy Bee honey from Argentina (when we have perfectly good honey made right here in Ontario) is way too low? How can we pay so little for something that travels so far? Well we do pay for it in the long run. We pay on a global scale. Carbon emissions, energy consumption through transportation of food, the raping of the soil by overly technical modern agricultural practises that take nutrients but never gives any back.
Does she care? Does she know anything about what kind of an impact she has on her world? Does she realize that her world can actually be linked in some concrete way to the world that truly exists outside of our small little corner of the planet? Maybe, but if I had answered this way maybe she would have known.
Buying a vegetarian hot dog wiener isn't going to save the world but better consumption choices some of the time are better than none of the time.
Do I have a dream? Ya, Mr. Martin Luther King Junior I do. My dream is that maybe having taught English in China for only 6 months and then returning to my life as a gymnastics coach in Canada I had some sort of effect on my students. Maybe their better English skills will get them better grades. Maybe those better grades will get them an opportunity to travel outside of China to study. Maybe that traveling outside of China will provide them the opportunity to have access to uncensored inforation by a Com/mu/ni/st gover/n/men/t who keeps the truths from it's people so that they don't ask questions (side note ours does too their just better at doing it, ask me for coffee sometime and I'll elaborate if you are so inclined to know). Maybe this experience of a world outside of the regular will provide them with a unique view of their corner of the world. This unique view may motivate them to do something extraordinary, something that will change the world around them and make it a better place.
Maybe. As the Zen Master says, "We will see."
I'm changed for having lived in China even a short while. Maybe I will do something extraordinary. Maybe I already did. We will see.
If you are heading to Daqing to teach please read these two books:
The Last Emperor (don't just watch the movie read the book)
Will the Boat Sink the Water? The Life of China's Peasants. authors Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao
These two books alone will prepare you with a recent history of the once known area of Manchuria. The north eastern part of China. A place full of hard working people with beautiful souls. They have endured so much. So much they don't even realize I think.