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Chatting with my Chinese friend (3): about civilization

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

09-08-2015 16:34 BJT

By H.Karoui, Analyst, Expert on the MENA

The feedback I received about my two previous stories in this series, mostly on Linkedin and Facebook, after I posted links to the Panview Website, along with the keen encouragement of friends in China and elsewhere, included my editor, convinced me that this new series I am writing for CCTV.com—Panview, may be useful and entertaining. Useful as it is a modest personal effort aiming at bringing closer the East and the West. And entertaining, as I also try to keep close to society and culture, both in China and abroad, not to coldly comment on the events.

As soon as I presented the idea of this column to my editor at CCTV.com, her answer was: “go ahead.”

"Li, you can't imagine how much skeptical I am, by habit.” While I thought this, I kept it for myself.

It was not until the two first stories were posted on Panview Website and I started receiving feedbacks, that I threw away my habitual skepticism, as I heard the little voice inside my head, saying: keep going on, boy.

Yeah! Now to come up with a good story, one cannot just watch the news, read reports and other stuff, and handle a keyboard. Chinese friends are needed. That's the title of this column. The problem is they are not always available.

The other day, as I was watching the V-day parade on CCTV, thousands of kilometers away from Tiananmen, my mobile whizzed. It was a message from Chun Ling on WeChat, with the parade screen-pictured: “are you watching?”

"Yes, I am,” I replied.

That gave me a quick answer to the question I was considering. I may be far away from my Chinese friends, but still we have this formidable technologic asset that is Internet.

A couple of days later, we connected on WeChat again. I was a little anxious about the subject of my story. That's my natural state before I write. Out of the blue, she asked:

"What are you going to write about this week? I mean who will be your friend?”

"That's a good question. I have no idea.”

She chuckled. “Write about Nini.” She said.

"Nini? What's the event?”

"She's going back to school,” she replied... apparently amused.

"That's funny! I didn't think of it. This is surely the biggest event in all the countries enjoying a pleasurable social peace, in China as in the rest of the civilized world…"

"Civilized world,” she repeated, “what is this? A kind of metaphor borrowed from Kipling?”

"Absolutely not. There is no imperialist connotation in the expression I used. I just mean civilizations grow, flourish and prosper, thanks to peace. If you don't have peace, you have war. That's the definition of any given situation, anytime, anywhere. Wars destroy civilizations. People at war don't behave the same way they behave in peace time. Some of them discover their bestiality and savagery. Even animals don't kill for the pleasure of killing. People at war do this. And those who do cannot be described as civilized. That's what I mean.”

Chun Ling listened quietly. After a pause, she said, “You are right. There are indeed big events happening all over the world. Just in the region where you are based, out there in the Middle East, you get a headache every time you open your TV to watch the news.”

"This world is literally exploding, Chun Ling. I mean it. Starting with the region that gave humanity three monotheistic religions, all of which initially aimed at making people happier and peace-loving. So they say. But I don't see this was actually what happened in real history. I am not blaming religions, though. I am blaming people.”

She said, “Religions say what they say, and people understand what they understand.”

"No,” I replied. “Religions say what they say, and people misunderstand what they misunderstand, or misunderstand what they understand, or better, understand what they misunderstand! Anyway, the result is the same: wars, terrorism, brutality and cruelty.”

As she remained silent, I added, “This week, I saw the pictures of two events depicting exactly the meaning of the term uncivilized. The first was that of a small Syrian boy whose dead body ended up on the shores of Europe. The second was a video-tape that goes viral on the Internet. It was about four Iraqi men, who have been tied up by their arms and legs, and hung from an iron bar, and slowly cooked to death, in the way they cook chickens and ducks. The video, made and posted by ISIS (Daesh), explains why those four men were treated in this way. The black-masked terrorist who was presenting the video, explained quite seriously, with distorted, out of historic context quotations from the Quran, and other made-up sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, that the Shiite Iraqis who had burnt a Sunni some days ago, needed a response. That was it!”

"It's horrible!” She exclaimed. “Were the four detained men involved in any way with the killing of the Sunni?”

"Absolutely not. The video made it clear.”

"So what was their crime? Is it because they were Shiite?”

"Yes, Madam. In several countries, Sunni and Shiite respectively deny that the other is Muslim. That's why those men have been burnt alive.”

She sighed and said, “It's awfully lamentable! If Muslims of different sects cannot bear each other while they have the same faith, How could they expect others (religious or nonreligious) to bear them?”

"That's the point! Entire countries are being emptied up from their citizens by people who often confess the same faith: look at Syria and Iraq. And the media blame Europeans for refusing to host all the refugees! Is this the problem of Europe? Who forced them out but Arabs and Muslims like them?”

Both of us were in deep thought.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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