Saturday, April 10, 2010

And then there are the hard things.

There are some hard things about living in China.  I'm not talking about language, culture stress, crowds or pollution.  I am talking about the fact that living in China is hard.  Many people here have a hard life.

China is in an economic boom.  Buildings are going up everywhere-tall buildings, high rises, glass and steel.  Now that the winter is over, we can hear the sounds of hammers, nails, and other construction site sounds.  From our window, we can see many,  many buildings going up.

But for everyone of these.....
And the promise made by advertisments like this.

There are people like this man.  Migrant workers far, far away from their families.   There are thousands and thousands of people like him, far away from their homes in small villages.  They live in dormitories, eat noodles and other cheap meals and send their money home.

In the countryside, they live in places like this.  They go home about once a year to see their families.  Imagine the sacrifice.

Every day we pass people like this on the street.  They have signs around their heads, advertising their work skills.  I was hesitant to take pictures because I don't want to objectify them.  So I took a few from  a distance.  These pictures don't even show the sheer numbers of people that are there looking for work.

One day, we saw an expensive car pull up. Many women rushed up to the car, clawing to get in.  The car was packed with women wanting to work.  It was a little heart breaking.

All over China, you see this character on buildings.

The character marked on the building's means that the building is destined for destruction.  Old neighborhoods like this  old hutong are being torn down.

I sometimes think that Chinese people are among the hardest working people in the world.

I am not Chinese.  I am a guest in this country.  I am not an economist, a sociologist or anything like that.  I have no social solution to the problem of poverty in this country or my own country.
But I do know, that as a follower of Christ, I am to treat people as valuable beings created in the image of God.  So we try to do a few simple things.  We try to greet the people who work around us- the gardeners, the cleaning people, those who are invisible.  We separate out our recyclables.  Many poor people go through the trash, looking for bottles to recycle.  Last night, as we were riding our bikes home from an event, we saw many people going through trash on the street, looking for things to recycle. We put ours in a separate bag, to make it easier for the people in our neighborhood to find.  It sounds a little dumb and insignificant as I write it. But if you saw the people clawing through mountains of trash, you wouldn't think so.
A friend of mine told me an interesting story.  She said that when she would go to a restaurant, she would clear her stuff.  As Americans, we are philosophically opposed to having people clean up for us.  Finally a Chinese person explained that if she kept doing that, someone would not have a job.  It's an odd position to be in not doing work so that someone would have work!
As we are here longer, there might be bigger things for us to do.  But for now, we are trying to be faithful.
We believe that as followers of Christ that we are called to work and live for justice.  In small ways, very small ways...we are trying to live that way.


Pam Terrell said...

Little by little by little. As Mother Theresa said, "Do small things with great love." And that you are doing! Thanks for sharing.

Mark said...

Thank you for sharing and your work in Christ.

Tanya said...

The contrasts are startling. And unsettling.

God bless you guys.

Donna said...

I've been here three years and I'm still not used to the rich/poor dichotomy. But I'm so thankful I don't have to choose between keeping my kids under my roof and having a job so I can feed them from afar.