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Chatting with my Chinese friend (13):The big Middle East circus of horrors

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

12-08-2015 15:30 BJT

By H Karoui

My friend Yu's been watching news from the Middle East again and he's none too impressed. Here's the nub of our conversation:

— They are all pretending to fight ISIS while accusing each other of betrayal and striking secret deals with the enemy. For those like us Chinese who watch from afar it would all be hilarious if it were not for all the lives lost. It is so surreal that I just can’t believe all this is happening before my very own eyes. Those people are supposed to be allies in the fight against terrorism, right? I don’t mean only Turkey and Russia. I mean all those who are pretending to fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Now they are either aligning with Moscow or Ankara instead of fighting all on the same side. They pretend to have only one enemy: ISIS. Can you believe this? Actually I feel ISIS has succeeded in dividing them. Maybe in the next stage they will fight each other and forget all about ISIS!

You're right. Seen from the exterior, the Middle East political stage is like a big circus. When I was a schoolboy, I used to go every year to the circus with my comrades and teachers. It was one of the finest distractions for children. It was varied and always wonderful because of all the shows with wild, smart animals – lions, tigers, elephants, horses, monkeys – and of course jugglers, trapeze artists and clowns. We used to think that everything in the circus was a kind of miracle happening in front of us, that all those men and women and animals formed a community living on a higher stage, with their own code of behavior, their own language: a code that all of them, people and beasts, would never transgress. For their common life depended on respect. That is why we liked and admired them and would never miss the opportunity to see their annual performance in our city.

Now look at what's happening in the Middle East. It is just the contrary. The show there has been going on a long time, but without a common code or language or behavior. We know nearly everyone coming out from behind the curtains, often to play a preassigned role by someone he barely knows, for a purpose he doesn’t even understand or guess. But he has to keep on performing. For this show is not designed to entertain people but to make them believe that everything is true about that performance. If the actor talks of principles, he expects you to believe he is acting on them. If he talks about threats, he means to scare you. If he threatens, he wants you to flee and leave a vacated space for him. And if, like ISIS murderers, he cuts the throat of a man he never met, on air, with cameras shooting, he means that you are next if you resist or fight him.

Imagine that happening in our children's circus. Imagine lions and tigers and wild beasts released free from any discipline! Imagine jugglers throwing their knives at the public! Imagine clowns turning bloody tragedy into jokes! That is the circus of the Middle East. It has become such a hell that we have some difficulty believing all of it is truly happening.

— Do you mean wild beasts are released?

I mean that wild beasts, when they are taken care of, behave much better than some humans. Wild beasts at my childhood circus were disciplined through a long learning process by a master who understands how to lead them into doing what he wants them to do. That's an exact definition of power.

— Good! Then we must deduce that if people misbehave in the Middle East to the point of slaying or threatening to slay other people who do not believe what they believe or do not belong to their ethnicity, tribe, sect or religion, something is wrong with their leaders. I mean something is wrong with the kind of teaching they gave them, right? Furthermore if those leaders do not wish to change their ways or their teachings despite knowing the disastrous results, is that not because they are afraid?

Afraid of what?

— Afraid of being criticized and proved wrong for leading people the wrong way for decades if not centuries. Adept Lu once asked Confucius how virtuous men became so virtuous. “They cultivate themselves,” Confucius replied, “and so master reverence.”

"Is that all?” Lu said. “They cultivate themselves and so bring peace to others,” Confucius replied. Lu asked again: “Is that all it takes?” The master replied: “They cultivate themselves and so bring peace to the people.”

I understand, but I fear there is no Confucius in the Middle East, maybe just unbound wild beasts.


( 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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