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Don Tow's Website http://www.dontow.com Sat, 23 Jun 2018 14:02:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 Trump Legacy: Changing Standard for Assessing a Political Leader http://www.dontow.com/2018/06/trump-legacy-changing-standard-for-assessing-a-political-leader/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/06/trump-legacy-changing-standard-for-assessing-a-political-leader/#comments Sat, 23 Jun 2018 07:00:07 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=5131 Donald Trump has been the President of the U.S. for less than 18 months, but his behavior and public statements already have an adverse impact on one important aspact of the American government and society.  His frequent outright lies, on almost every subject under the sun, have desensitized people, other government leaders, and the media so that such outright lies are no longer that important as an assessment of whether a political leader should be criticized, or should even remain in office.  It is as though they have been vaccinated against being affected by these lies.  This article discusses some examples and implications.

Essentially on a daily basis on every topic, ranging from personal to national to international issues, Trump has repeatedly lied, even on purely factual issues not subject to any interpretation.  Furthermore, his lies have often been immediately pointed out by various fact checkers.  Yet, negative consequences for him have been drastically less than comparable actions for other political leaders in the past.

Samples of Trump’s Lies:  Trump’s lies are too numerous to be listed in this article.  Here are two references:

  1. “Trump’s Lies” by David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson, NY Times, 12/14/2017.  This article listed a couple hundreds of Trump’s lies up to 11/11/2017.
  2. “President Trump lied more than 3,000 times in 466 days” by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, 5/9/2018.  This article keeps a finer and more detailed check of Trump’s lies from 1/20/2017 to end of April 2018.

We illustrate with some examples:

  • 1/21/2017:  Referring to the Times magazine, Trump said “I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times.  I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.”  In reality Trump was on the cover 11 times and Nixon appeared 55 times.
  • 1/25/2017:  Referring to the inauguration ceremony, Trump said “the audience was the biggest ever.  But this crowd was massive.  Look how far back it goes.  This crowd was massive.” But official aerial photos show Obama’s 2009 inauguration was much more heavily attended.
  • 2/6/17:  “I have already saved more than $700 million when I got involved in the negotiation on the F-35.”  But much of the price drop was projected before Trump took office.
  • 2/16/17:  Referring to the Electoral College voting, Trump said “We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes.  I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.”  But George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all won bigger margins in the Electoral College.
  • 2/16/17:  “Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives.”  But the jobs are a result of its investment plans announced in Oct. 2016.
  • 2/24/17:  “Obamacare covers very few people”  But Obamacare increased coverage by a net of about 20 million.
  • 3/4/17:  “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”  But there is no evidence of a wiretap.
  • 3/31/17:  “We have a lot of plants going up now in Michigan that were never going to be there if I — if I didn’t win this election, those plants would never even think about going back. They were gone.”  But these investments were already planned.
  • 4/11/17:  “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve.”  But he knew Steve Bannon since 2011.
  • 4/28/17:  “The trade deficit with Mexico is close to $70 billion, even with Canada it’s $17 billion trade deficit with Canada.” But the U.S. had an $8.1 billion trade surplus, not deficit, with Canada in 2016.
  • 7/17/17:  “We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any president, ever.”  But Clinton, Carter, Truman, and F.D.R. had signed more at the same point.
  • 7/19/17:  “But the F.B.I.. person really reports directly to the president of the U.S.”  But he reports directly to the attorney general.
  • 7/25/17:  “We have the highest taxes anywhere in the world, and this will really bring them down to one of the lowest.”  But tax rates in the U.S. are below average, overall and for an industrialized country.
  • 7/28/17:  “The previous administration enacted an open-door policy to illegal migrants from Central America. “Welcome in. Come in, please, please.”  But Obamad deported millions
  • 7/28/17:  “We have trade deficits with almost every country because we had a lot of really bad negotiators making deals with other countries.”  But the U.S. has a trade surplus with more than 100 countries.
  • 7/31/17:  “And even the President of Mexico called me – they said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment.”  But Mexico’s president says he didn’t call Trump.
  • 8/3/17:  “The Russia story is a total fabrication.”  But it is not.
  • 8/22/17:  “I mean truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up stories. They have no sources in many cases. They say ‘a source says’ – there is no such thing.”  But the media in these cases did not make up sources.
  • 8/22/17:  “We have become an energy exporter for the first time ever just recently.”  But the U.S. isn’t projected to become a net energy exporter until 2026.
  • 9/6/17:  “The taxes are crazy – the highest-taxed nation in the world.”  But we’re not. 
  • 9/27/17:  “No, I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit. In fact, very very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”  But the tax plan would personally benefit Trump and other wealthy individuals. 
  • 10/6/17:  “They also just said that there has been absolutely no collusion. They just said that. Yesterday. Two days ago. Senate. There has been no collusion.”  But the Senate didn’t say that.
  • 10/16/17:  Referring to Trump’s remarks and actions toward women, Trump said “All I can say is it’s totally fake news, just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful what happens, but that happens in the world of politics.”  But Trump himself has bragged about groping women. 
  • 11/11/17:  “I’d rather have him – you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing about whether or not – because that whole thing was set up by the Democrats.”  But there is no evidence that Democrats “set up” Russian interference in the election.
  • 3/27/18:  On numerous occasions in 2017 and 2018 (and even as early as 2016 and 2015), Trump had said that the U.S. will build a wall on the border of the U.S. and Mexico and that he will get Mexico to pay for the wall.  But he is no longer saying that any more.  Instead, since 3/27/18, he has voiced the possibility of getting the U.S. military to pay for the wall.
  • 5/3/18:  On many occasions in 2017 and 2018, Trump had denied that he knew anything about the $130,000 hush money he, through his personal attorney Michael Cohen, paid off to the porn actress Stormy Daniels for an alleged affair in 2006.  But in a 5/3/18 tweet, he admitted that he had paid back Mr. Cohen for this hush money.
  • 6/5/18:  Referring to the 2018 Superbowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, Trump said “I had uninvited the Birds from the traditional post-Super Bowl victory visit. Why? In part because only a small number of players decide to come, and in part because some of their players had been kneeling or standing in the locker room during the national anthem.”  But no Eagles player kneeled during the national anthem in 2017, and the Eagles was one of just seven NFL teams with a perfect non-kneeling record for 2017, and they didn’t wait in the locker room either.

Assessment and Implications:  Trump has lied publicly probably more than the sum of lies of all the previous 45 presidents.  Furthermore, on many lies, he kept repeating the same lies on several subsequent occasions even though various fact checkers had already pointed out his lies.  And many of his lies are on pure facts, and not subject to any interpretation.  So it seems that speaking the truth is of no importance to Trump.  He lies to try to cover his own bad behaviors, including potentially illegal behaviors, to gain a financial advantage or a political advantage, to try to change history, especially the part of history related to him.  He has exhibited complete contempt for civil behavior or the rule of law.  He is not concerned about the welfare of other people, except himself, his family, and his empire.

Normally, such behavior would lose the respects of others, and the political support for a politician.  However, unfortunately, there are still a very large number of people in the U.S., especially Republicans and Evangelical Christians, who continue to voice strong support for him.  This raises the serious concern about the type of country and society that the U.S. has become.

Take for example, infidelity.  More than half a century ago, we had many presidents who had extra-marital affairs, including Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson.  The morality in those times was to accept those deeds and let those deeds lied buried.  However, starting in the late 1960s and 1970s with the Vietnam War movement, Watergate, and women’s liberation movement that led to the first resignation of a sitting president, an awakening of morality, and feminism, our society was no longer so forgiven for a politician engaging in extra-marital affairs.  This became clear in 1987 with the downfall of Gary Hart, who was way ahead in the polls within both the Democratic Party and in competition with the Republican Party.  He was projected to win easily the Democratic presidential primary over Walter Mondale and other nominees, and to win easily the presidential election over the Republican presidential nominee George H. W. Bush.  But that was before his affair with Donna Rice on the yacht Monkey Business became public. [1]  In 1987, the public was no longer so forgiven for a man running for the office of the president of the U.S. to engage in an open extra-marital affair.

During the last 30 years, that kind of mentality has remained dominant in the American conscience and in the American political arena.  That is why so many political candidates have dropped to the wayside once frequent lyings and infidelity became public.  Unfortunately, that may be changing with Donald Trump.  He has lied so frequently and behaved so badly that the American public has become desensitized, so that such behavior doesn’t seem to turn people away from supporting him.  In other words, the American standard for assessing political leaders has changed for the worst.  This may be the most important and dangerous legacy of Donald Trump.


[1] For a good article about Gary Hart, see “How Gary Hart’s Downfall Forever Changed American Politics,” New York Times Magazine, September 18, 2014.

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Taiji Push Hands: An Introduction http://www.dontow.com/2018/06/taiji-push-hands-an-introduction/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/06/taiji-push-hands-an-introduction/#respond Sat, 23 Jun 2018 06:00:26 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=5173 Taiji is both a good exercise for health and a good martial art for self defense. [1,2]  In the West, it is usually known as a good health exercise for senior citizens; however, it can also be practiced as a good martial art.  Furthermore, Taiji is a good art to learn for people of all ages, including youths and children, although we are a long way from attracting a lot of children to Taiji. [3]  To learn Taiji as a martial art, “push hands” is an integral component of the practice.  This article gives an introduction to push hands.

 

Fundamental Basis of Taiji As a Martial Art:  The fundamental basis of Taiji as a martial art is that you don’t oppose an attacking force head on, because then the winner will be the bigger and stronger combatant.  Instead, you shift your position to avoid a head-on attack, and at the same time apply your own force to supplement  the attacking force along the same direction or nearly the same direction.  This will avoid being hit, and at the same time may cause the opponent to lose his balance.   When the opponent senses that he may be losing his balance, then he will change course, e.g., by pulling back, i.e., reverse the direction of his motion.  Then you change the direction of the force that you are applying, and change from being in a defensive mode to an offensive mode.  To properly execute this sequence of actions, you need to be able to have a good sense of your opponent’s motion and intent so that you can quickly change your own motion.  This is precisely what push hands tries to train you.

What Is Push Hands?  In practicing Taiji as a form, you usually practice alone.  To practice push hands, just like in one-to-one combats, you practice with a partner.  The purpose of push hands is to have two people in contact with each other, and using various moves such as some of the moves in various Taiji form sets, each person tries to get the other person off balance (e.g., by pushing or pulling).  Push hands provides an opportunity to apply the various Taiji forms in a combat-like situation to create an opening to attack your opponent by causing your opponent to lose balance.  Push hands is practiced via initially a series of choreographed-exercises for the two participants (e.g., one-hand, two-hand, stationary, and moving choreographed-exercises), and later to non-choreographed free-style push hands exercises.

Learning the Art of “Ting” (Listening Power):  As discussed earlier, in order for you to decide what your next move be, you have to be able to have a good sense of your opponent’s motion and intent.  For example, if your opponent is pushing you in direction x, then you need to deflect that force at least slightly away from direction x and at the same time turn you body so that the attacking force misses you or glances off you.  However, you need to detect your opponent’s motion, and better yet detect his intention, at the beginning of his movement to give you sufficient time to mount a defense and counter attack.  This detection is primarily via the “feel” at your point of contact with your opponent, i.e., where your hands are touching. [4]  This is the skill of “Ting,” which in Chinese means listen, which in this case means “listen” to the stimuli that you feel through the skins of your touching hand.

By relaxing your body and mind, you can sense better your opponent’s motion and intent, because the stimuli that you feel in your hand will come mostly from your opponent and will not be mixed up with the stimuli that your body generates from tensing up and your own response.  Furthermore, by being relax, it is much more difficult for your opponent to sense what you are doing or your intent.  Therefore, relaxation which is the underlying basis for why Taiji is a good health exercise is also an underlying basis for  why Taiji is a good martial art.

Building on Top of Relaxation:  Several other techniques build on top of the base of relaxation of body and mind.

  • Stable Stand or Rooting:  To be an effective combatant for both offense and defense, you must root yourself to the ground to provide a stable stand, which is always emphasized from your first lesson of Taiji even if you are learning Taiji just for health.  That is why you don’t put your two feet along the same line, but your two feet should be separated in the transverse direction from the direction of motion by approximately a shoulder width.   So as long as your center of gravity is within the two lines of support from your feet, you don’t fall.  You also drop your weight to the lower part of your body.  Another emphasis from your first lesson of Taiji is that you keep your upper body straight as though there is a rope tied to the ceiling from the top of your head.  This results in good posture from a health perspective, and from a martial arts perspective, it makes it more difficult for the opponent to pull you off balance if you are not leaning forward, and you are not holding yourself back when you are attacking an opponent if you are not leaning backward.
  • Yielding:  Previously we have already mentioned that in Taiji as a martial art, you don’t oppose an opponent head-on, instead you supplement his attacking force with your own force along nearly the same direction to try to get your opponent off balance.  This is sometimes known as yielding.  You try to flow with your opponent, and then create an opportunity to attack your opponent by getting your opponent off balance.  Yielding is constantly being practiced during push hands exercises.
  • Release of Power (Fa Jing):  When the opportunity comes for you to attack your opponent, you need to exert enough force to make an impact on your opponent.  That is, at that moment, you need to generate some power.  While relaxing body and mind, the ability to generate that power quickly at the moment of impact is known as Fa Jing, meaning release power in Chinese.  Fa Jing is also constantly being practiced during push hands exercises.

Eight Push Hands Movements:  There are eight basic hand-moving patterns in Taiji Push Hands.  These movements are practiced during push hands exercises.

  1. Wardoff:  Expands one hand or both hands outward and often also upward to stop an attack or to attack
  2. Rollback:  Uses one or both hands to roll/pull back an opponent’s attacking arm and to cause him to lose balance
  3. Press:  Uses one hand behind the other hand to press against an opponent’s attacking hands or body and to counter an opponent’s rollback movement that can cause one to lose balance
  4. Push:  Uses both hands to push (down and/or forward) an opponent’s attacking hands or body to mitigate an attack and to initiate a counter-attack
  5. Pull Down (also known as Pluck):  Uses two or more fingers or one or both hands to pull an opponent’s arm (e.g., at the wrist) downward
  6. Split (also known as Rend):  Moves an arm or hand in a cross-body motion to defend (e.g., to block a punch) or attack (e.g., to strike the opponent’s face)
  7. Elbow Stroke:  Uses an elbow to strike an opponent (e.g., at his chest or rib cage)
  8. Shoulder Stroke (also known as Bump):  Uses a shoulder or back to bump an opponent

Summary:  Taiji is both a good health exercise and a good martial art.  Push hands is an important training method of Taiji as a martial art.  During push hands, you are in an environment with an opponent, and you try to use many of the forms that you learn from Taiji form exercise to try to get your opponent off balance to create an opportunity to attack.  You practice relaxing your body and mind, to root yourself to a stable stand, to yield and to listen (or “Ting”),  and then counter attack with power (“Fa Jing”).  Taiji is well known as a good exercise for senior citizens.  However, it is also a good exercise for all ages, including children. [3]


[1]  See, e.g., “Health Benefits of Taiji”.

[2]  See, e.g., “Martial Applications of Taijiquan.”

[3]  See. e.g., the article “How To Popularize Taiji in the U.S.?”  This article was also published in the Fall 2015 issue of Tai Chi Magazine.

[4]  To a lesser extent, this detection may also be via your eyes, i.e., your opponent’s expression may disclose some information about his next move or intent.

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Environmental Problems: Global Disasters Waiting to Happen http://www.dontow.com/2018/06/environmental-problems-global-disasters-waiting-to-happen/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/06/environmental-problems-global-disasters-waiting-to-happen/#comments Sat, 23 Jun 2018 05:00:39 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=5136 Our environments are constantly changing, and correspondingly serious problems arise as a result of these changes.  There are many serious environmental problems, such as pollution, overpopulation, natural resource depletion, waste disposal.  The most important and most talked about problem is global warming, with the associated rise in temperature and sea level.   This was the main impetus for the United Nations (UN)’s Paris Climate Agreement which was reached in December 12, 2015.

This article discusses the world’s environmental problems associated with global warming, and the potential disastrous consequences for the U.S. withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

Why It Is Urgent to Address Global Warming Environmental Problems Now?  The environment of course has always been changing.  However, there are two reasons why it is much more important to address the consequences of environmental changes now than say 100 years ago, or even 50 years ago.

  • The population of the world was only 1 billion in 1804, and it doubled after 123 years to 2 billion in 1927.  Then it doubled after 47 years to 4 billion in 1974.  The current world population is about 7.6 billion.  The population growth rate is no longer as high as before due to the advent of birth control and smaller family size in some parts of the world.  Nevertheless, it may soon grow to that maximum number that can be supported by our earth, which is estimated by many to be about 10 billions. [1]
  • Many countries are still undergoing industrialization and will consume much more natural resources than before; this will escalate the exhaustion of natural resources.  For example, Americans constitute only about 5% of the world’s population but consume about 24% of the world’s energy.  On average, one American consumes as much energy as 2 Japanese, 6 Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians, and 370 Ethiopians. [2]  Therefore, as the world becomes more industrialized, the world’s environment problems will drastically increase.

 

The Greenhouse Effect:  Human activities, especially related to industrialization, produce gases such as carbon dioxide.  When such gases are trapped by the earth’s atmosphere, it warms up the surface of the earth.  Depending on local geography, the resultant global warming can lead to various adverse consequences, including:

  • More drought and more flooding:  Higher temperature causes more evaporation from the earth’s surface (over both land and ocean).  More evaporation can cause droughts.  More evaporation can also result in more moisture in the atmosphere which leads to more rain and therefore potentially more floods.
  • Less ice and snow:  Areas that are dependent on water from melting ice and snow from mountains will have less water.
  • More extreme weather incidents:  Warmer climate will cause more heatwaves, more violent rainfall and also an increase in the number and/or severity of storms.
  • Rising sea level:  Sea level rises because of melting ice and snow, and especially because of the melting of age-old glaciers.  Because water expands when warmed, this also causes the sea level to rise.

Recent published data from the U.S.’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) state that the frequency of coastal (including our Jersey Shore) flooding from high tides has doubled in the U.S. in just 30 years. [3]  Furthermore, this is a universal problem for the whole world, and not just for the U.S.

For example, on July 12, 2017, after months of anticipation, the Larsen C iceberg separated from the Larsen Ice Shelf in the northwest part of the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. At 2,200 sq miles (5,800 sq km) it is one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, leaving the Larsen C ice shelf at its smallest extent on record and probably since the last interglacial period 115,000 years ago. [4]

Another example is the heavy monsoon rains during the summer of 2017 resulted in unprecedented flooding in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal that killed at least 1,288 people and affected over 45 million. The floods of 2017 are consistent with the globally observed rainfall trend that indicates heavy rainfall events are getting heavier.  This trend has been firmly attributed to climate change. [4]

Global warming triggered the Earth’s third-ever global coral bleaching event, which began in the north Pacific in the summer of 2014, became global in 2015, and extended into a record-breaking 4th calendar year in 2017. (NOAA defines a global coral bleaching event as one apparent in all three ocean basins “across multiple reefs spanning 100 kilometers or more.”)  In the last three decades, 19% of global coral reef area has been lost due to coral bleaching. Global-scale bleaching events were not observed until 1998. [4]

 

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement:  The Paris Climate Agreement is an agreement within the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to control the increase of the greenhouse effect.  After several years of discussion and negotiation, representatives at the 21st Conference of the Parties [5] of the UNFCCC signed the agreement.  The long-term goal of the Paris Climate Agreement is to keep the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and aim to keep it 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels (the current temperature is about 1°C above the pre-industrial levels). [6]

Essentially all the countries of the world (around 200) have signed the Paris Climate Agreement.  For a while Syria and Nicaragua were the only countries who did not sign the agreement, but both Syria and Nicaragua have signed in 2017.  Although the Paris Climate Agreement is voluntary with no enforcement power, the hope is that because it is critical to the livelihood of the whole world, various countries in the world will be willing to implement the agreement.

 

Implications for Trump Announcing the U.S. Will Withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement:  In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement. [7]  This is an issue that has tremendous impact for the U.S. and the world, with implications for the health and livelihood of our children and grandchildren, as well as more generations to come.  It is one of very few issues that have essentially the whole world in agreement of its importance.  It is an issue that is solidly based on science.  Yet, without even seriously consulting those scientists or his own scientific staff, Trump made his decision.  Why?  Perhaps the following can explain his action.

Coal tycoon Bob Murray was an early campaign supporter of Trump and also a major GOP political donor.  In a series of letters dated to March 28, 2017, Bob Murray told Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt that Trump should issue an executive order to exit the Paris Climate Agreement, which was exactly what Trump did three months later. [8]  Such action would remove the requirement that coal-fired electric generators would need to take action for comply with the agreement, and mean millions, or even billions, of dollars for the coal industry.  The article also pointed out the role played by now-EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who then worked as Murray’s lobbyist.

This is just another example of Trump’s priority, which is to himself, his family, his financial empire, and his financial supporters. What is important to the people of the U.S., the people of the world, or the health of own planet is really not important to him.  This is what we currently have as the President of the U.S.

 

Summary:  Population increase and industrialization across the globe are creating more and more environmental challenges to the world.  Challenges such as global warming are affecting the whole world.  The increase in the world’s average temperature will have tremendous impacts on the livelihood in many localities across the globe.  If we don’t take appropriate actions now, these problems could become insurmountable 50, 100 years from now.  These insurmountable problems will be faced by our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren due to the actions or in-actions that our leaders adopt today.  The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is a symbol of hope that the leaders of the world are wise enough to recognize the problem and start to initiate actions to address the problem.  Unfortunately, our current president of the U.S., Donald Trump, has already announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

 


[1] See, e.g., “How Many People Can Earth Support?”  Of course, such estimates may not be completely accurate, due perhaps to future unexpected advances in food production, shelter construction, and conversion of salty ocean water to drinkable water.

[2] See, e.g., a 2008 compilation by the Associated Press:  https://public.wsu.edu/~mreed/380American%20Consumption.htm.  Although this 10-year-old compilation is somewhat outdated, especially with respect to the Chinese, the general message is still valid.  As a matter of fact, the message is even more urgent.

[3] See, e.g., The Guardian article “Flooding from high tides has doubled in the US in just 30 years.”

[4] See, e.g., the climatenexus articlc “2017 Climate Impacts Around the World.”

[5] A party usually means a country.  However, the European Union of 28 countries is only one party in the Paris Climate Agreement.

[6] Actually we don’t have reliable data on what were the pre-industrial temperature levels, since such data became available only after the mid 1850.  Climate experts rely on biological or physical archives – known as “proxies” – that preserve past temperature (see, e.g., “The Planet’s Temperature Is Rising.”)

[7] Under the Paris Climate Agreement, the earliest effective date of withdrawal for the U.S. is November 2020.

[8] See, e.g., the 6/6/2018 USA Today article “Coal industry documents show extent of effort to influence Trump on Paris accord, regulations.”

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Sample Letters from Tong Zeng’s Collection of “10,000 Cries for Justice” http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/sample-letters-from-tong-zengs-collection-of-10000-cries-for-justice/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/sample-letters-from-tong-zengs-collection-of-10000-cries-for-justice/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:00:51 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=5033 The “10,000 Cries for Justice” initiative provides an important digital archive of historical written letters about WWII atrocities inflicted by the Japanese military on the Chinese population during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945).  This digital archive documenting the first-hand experience of the victims provides powerful evidence to refute all the false claims made by the Japanese government. It provides a powerful tool to learn from history. By finally resolving the long-overdue injustices, it will help to establish genuine friendship between the Japanese people and the Chinese people, and true peace between Japan and China, as well as other countries.

This collection of letters were written by Chinese atrocity victims sent to Mr. Tong Zeng (童增) starting in the early 1990s.  These letters can be accessed via the bilingual website (www.10000cfj.org). [1]  This article presents excerpts from several sample letters from this historical collection of these important letters.

Originally around 10,000 letters were written to Mr. Tong Zeng.  Since copying machines were not readily available to Mr. Tong Zeng about 20-25 years ago, many of the letters were borrowed by many relatives and friends of the letter writers and by journalists, and were never returned.  Therefore, Mr. Tong Zeng currently has only about half of the original collection. [2]

The letters can be classified into nine categories:

  • Air Bombings (AB)
  • Biological/Chemical Warfare (BC)
  • Nanking Massacre (NM)
  • Other Massacres (OM)
  • Murders (MU)
  • Rapes (RA)
  • Sex Slaves (SS, also euphemistically known as Comfort Women)
  • Slave Laborers (SL)
  • Others (OT)

Reading these atrocities brings chills down your spine, because the experiences of the victims were horrifying and unimaginable.  It makes you yell out loud “how can one human do this to another human?”  Even though it is painful to read about these atrocities, it is important that we must do so, in order to keep history from repeating itself.

We provide excerpts from one sample letter from each of the first eight categories of atrocities.

 

Air Bombings (AB):  Letter s0098 (clicking on the letter ID allows you to see the whole letter) [3].  This letter describes the air bombing and other atrocities in Wuyi County, Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province:

“More than 8,000 people died from being buried alive, burning to death, freezing, boiling with hot water, cramming pepper water, poisoning, attacking by hounds, starving, body splitting by horses (all kinds), hanging, skinning, mutilation, (gang) raping, live targets of shooting and flesh carving.  …  After the Japanese army retreated in May 1945, 25 shoulder pole loads of human bones were excavated, more than 2,700 skeletons were discovered across the area.  …  18 women were raped (gang raped) before death, over 500 women were raped by brutal force; these women were stripped and raped in broad daylight, and “teased” before being raped, some even died from splitting the body with knife.”

Written by
Tang Qiangshen
1992.12.15
Return address: 33 Xinxing Road, Wuyi County, Zhejiang Province

 

Biological/Chemical Warfare (BC):  Letter s0758.  This letter describes the Japanese Army using cholera as a biological weapon in Yunnan Province:

“Furthermore, in 1941 when the Japanese Army invaded Western Yunnan, after Baoshan was conquered, large crowds of residents living in Baoshan and other places in Western Yunnan swarmed to Kunming to avoid slaughter by the Japanese Army. Immediately afterwards cholera broke out in Kunming. At first people thought it was epidemic plague, but soon it spread to the whole city. Those contracted cholera first would have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, and soon they died in less than one day. On the streets one could see dead people each day. Back then at the biggest and most famous coffin shop (the boss was surnamed Zhao) on Wenmiao Street in Kunming, all the coffins were sold out.”

To keep the Japanese army from advancing from the Baoshan area of Western Yunnan to Kunming and other parts of China, the Chinese army destroyed the Gongguo Bridge, the only bridge on the Lancang River connecting the Baoshan area and the Kunming area, thus stopping the Japanese invasion of Kunming.

“Since the Japanese Army was unable to cross the Lancang River natural barrier, they burned, killed and looted in Baoshan and other places, persecuted common people.  Afterwards, they spread cholera bacteria in Western Yunnan, therefore the fleeing people of all social circles brought the cholera bacteria to Kunming and spread it around.  …  As mentioned above, the number of civilians suffering direct or indirect damage from the Japanese Army runs to thousands and millions. Newspapers published at that time all carried the story.”

Tang Qingyu
November 20, 1992
Address: 53 Jingxing Street, Kunming, Yunnan Province

 

Nanking Massacre (NM):  Letter s3562.  This letter describes his family’s experience during the NM:

“I was born here in 1936. When I was a little over one year old, the Japanese Imperialism savagely invaded China, and carried out barbarian Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing. My father Zhang Jilu was killed in this Massacre when he was only 27, and later my two uncles were also killed in bombing by Japanese aircrafts, leaving only my grandparents, my aunt, my mother and myself in the family. In the aftermath of this tragic incident, my grandfather Zhang Chuhai lost three sons, my young mother lost her husband, and I lost my father when I was only a little over one year old, which forced my family to lose livelihood.  Since I was young, my mother tasted untold hardship in begging while holding me on her back. Since I was still young, and my mother was a woman, we were humiliated everywhere. Even if we received one meal, we did not know where the next one would come.”

Zhang Mingde
1992.6.2
Yinchuan City, Ningxia Autonomous Region

 

Other Massacres (OM):  Letter s0265.  This letter describes the Nanmazhuan Massacre in Fenyang City, Shanxi Province:

“That day, upon entering the village, the Japanese army captured, beat and killed people from door to door. After they broke into the yard of our house, they began to beat everybody, and took everything from us. Being scared, we had no place to hide. They asked all of us to raise our hands. We were not allowed to move. Then, they tied up my father and my second uncle and carried them away. At that time, our village had over 200 households, over 100 people were brutally tortured by the Japanese soldiers. Among the 100, 40 young men were bound with ropes. They were lined up next to a huge water pit in our village. Inside the pit some area was dry. The heads of the Japanese gave orders to fire and shoot those unarmed villagers, so the soldiers started to shoot them to death with rifles and machine guns. In a sudden, the 40 innocent young men fell into the pool of blood. The whole pit turned red. This is the ‘Nanmazhuang Massacre’ of Fenyang County which created a stir in Middle Shanxi Area during the Japanese war of aggression against China (this case is especially recorded in Fenyang County Annals). My father Duan Huanyou, and my second uncle Duan Huanlong were murdered by the Japanese army in this appalling massacre. I was only 7 at that time and I saw everything with my own eyes how my father and my second uncle were cruelly killed. I can never forget this horrible scene.”

Duan Peishen
February 9th, 1993

 

Murders (MU):  Letter s0060.  This letter describes the murders of his family members in Fushan County, Linfen City, Shanxi Province:

“We are from Xiadong Village, Dongzhang Township, Fushan County of Shanxi Province. In 1943, the Japanese army came to Fushan, burned, killed and looted everywhere, pursuing the inhuman ‘Sanguang’ policy (the policy of ‘burn all, kill all, loot all’). On August 28th, 1943 (of lunar calendar), they invaded our village, captured my grandfather Zhang Dagen and my father Zhang Kunhui , tortured them ruthlessly and beat them to death . My grandfather was 47 years old and my father was 23 at the time.”

Zhang Xianglong, Zhang Xiangfeng, Zhang Xiangwu
March 1st, 1993

 

Rapes (RA):  Letter s3626.  This letter describes his family’s experience in Changsha City, Hunan Province:

“One of my older female cousins, only 13, was discovered by the Japanese soldiers even though she was disguised as a boy with her head being shaved. Three Japanese soldiers dragged her away to rape her and cut open her vagina because she was too young.”

“In June 1944, the Japanese army invaded Changsha for the third time. On the afternoon of lunar July 13, when my mother, along with a group of women, was returning home from the countryside, they were captured by the Japanese army, stripped off with hands tied on the back and then bayoneted to death. My mother was bayoneted for eight times and thrown into Xiang River. An old widow was also thrown into the river after being bayoneted to death. As nobody came to collect her corpse, the corpse was pushed to the river bank by waves and eaten by crows bit by bit in the hot weather, with bones dragged away by dogs.”

Zhou Zhenqiu
March 18, 1993

 

Slave Laborers (SL):  Letter s2114.  This letter describes the experience of his uncle as a slave laborer in Japan for four years.

“In January 1942, many people including my uncle were captured by the invading Japanese army during a raid in northern Daqinghe, Hebei and sent to Tanggu Camp. Later they were sent to the railway station of Tsukino, Tone, Gunma, Japan. They were forced to labor for 4 years in a ravine 3 km southern of the railway station. They dug a cave every day, which was over 15 km long from east to west and used for hydraulic power generation. They did heavy work every day but ate pig feed and they were always starved. Instead of being provided with warm clothes in winter and thin clothes in summer, they were only given a crotch cloth in a year to work naked. The Japanese foremen often beat the Chinese laborers with sticks and whips and called them morons. My uncle saw with his eyes that many Chinese laborers were beaten to death by the Japanese foremen. The life was inhuman and intolerable. Some laborers committed suicide and some escaped and were caught back, bitten to death by foreign dogs. My uncle was strong before he’s captured, but he got weak due to the heavy work. To avoid being beaten by the foremen, he worked hard day and night. There was one time he was too hungry and exhausted in the cave that he blacked out. When he came to himself, he felt great pain in his chest and spit blood. He struggled to get up, thinking about talking to the foremen to take a rest. But unexpectedly, when the wolf-like foremen saw my uncle not working, they started beating my uncle in his head with sticks despite his begging. They didn’t stop until my uncle bled in the head. My uncle was injured, but the foremen didn’t give him treatment or medicine, or food if he didn’t work. So my uncle didn’t have a choice but keep working. The Japanese foremen said, ‘You Chinese people cannot run away. You are just food of Japanese dogs.’  Many Chinese laborers died there of torturing. Also, many laborers were disabled due to the beating or work and some got blinded. They suffered in Japan until the end of 1945 after Japan surrendered. My uncle Wang Jinsheng and other survivors returned to the Red Cross of Qingdao, China in March 1946 with the help of the American army. Finally, my uncle reunited with the family.”

Wang Jinsheng (dead)
Claimant: His nephew Wang Genyou

 

Sex Slaves (SS), or Euphemistically called Comfort Women (CW):  Letter s1380.  This is a letter submitted by Zhang Shuangbing on behalf of about three dozen sex slaves.  Below is an excerpt from one of these sex slaves from Shanxi Province.

“In March 1942, the Japanese soldiers came to Jiazhang Village, Xiyan Town and captured my father Hou Yinshai, deputy head of the village, and me. Then, they took off our upper clothes and beat us with sticks. We were bruised all over the body. Afterwards, they took us to Jingui Village and separated me from my father. I was dragged into a room which was then locked and I didn’t know where my father was. At over 11 p.m. that night, someone opened the door and took me to another room. After I entered the room, I saw a black-face officer and realized something bad was going to happen, so I cried out loud, which made the officer angry. He kicked me with leather shoes and dragged me on the bed. Then, he gagged me, stripped off all my clothes and raped me. I just turned 14 and was ruined by them. At dawn, I was taken back to the room where I was first kept. After that, every day from dawn to night, I would be raped by the Japanese for over 20 times.

For over 70 days, I was locked in that painful prison-like room, wasn’t given enough food or water and had to relieve myself in the room, living like an animal. I couldn’t see daylight until I was needed. After over 70 days, I got all swollen up. At last, my family ransomed my father and me with a flock of silver dollars (over 20), a donkey and over 250kg of wheat from my family and over 200 silver coins from my husband’s family. My uncle took a donkey with him to carry me home. We stayed one night at my uncle’s in Gaozhuang and he sent us home the next day. After I returned home, I was so ill that I couldn’t eat or drink. I was seriously ill for over a month. Since then, I have become afraid of dreaming, demented and would have a brain disorder and talk nonsense when I want to talk about important matters or talk too much. My whole life is ruined by the Japanese. Now, I couldn’t even support myself.”

Hou Qiaolian
November 1992

 

Summary:  Tong Zeng’s “10,000 Cries for Justice” Collection (童增书简) provides clear-cut evidence of the massive and inhumane atrocities that the Japanese military inflicted on the general population all over China (as well as other parts of Asia) during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945).  These atrocities violated international humanitarian law (also known as the law of war or the law of armed conflict) as stated in the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions. Some people consider this collection of victim letters to be analogous to the “Diary of Anne Frank.” [4]  It is important to study these letters because we must not let history be forgotten.  If we learn from it, then perhaps we can have true reconciliation between Japan and China, and genuine friendship between the Japanese people and the Chinese people.  Then true peace between Japan and China can be established.

 


[1] More background information about the “10,000 Cries for Justice” initiative and its website can be found in two earlier articles “10,000 Cries for Justice” and “An Archive of Historic Cries for Justice Letters.”

[2] Mr. Tong Zeng currently has about 4,000 letters, plus another 1,000+ “Form Letters.”  Currently, the “www.10000cfj.org” displays only the letters, and only about 15% of the letters have been translated into English.

[3] In the “10,000 Cries for Justice” website (www.10000cfj.org), each letter has a unique 5-character ID, starting with the letter “s” followed by four numbers.  If you click on letter’s ID, you can see the whole letter.  Please note that the English translations of some of the letters are being improved.  So when you check the website, some of the wordings might have been changed.  Also, at the end of the English letter, if you click on the button “Click to see the  scanned letter”, it shows you the scanned copy of the original Chinese handwritten letter.  If you want to see the Chinese transcribed digitized letter, go to the search page of the Chinese version of this website (http://www.10000cfj.org/?page_id=141), and type in the unique ID in the first box.

[4] The Liaoning Provincial Education Press also thinks that the Tong Zeng’s Collection has historical significance, and is planning to publish in book form a sample of 100 of these letters.  The scheduled publication date of this bilingual book is July 2018.

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Deflect and Supplement: Part of Fundamental Principles of Taijiquan As a Martial Art http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/deflect-and-supplement-part-of-fundamental-principles-of-taijiquan-as-a-martial-art/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/deflect-and-supplement-part-of-fundamental-principles-of-taijiquan-as-a-martial-art/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 20:55:18 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=5061 The principles of deflect and supplement are fundamentally important for Taijiquan as a martial art.  Although these principles are relevant for all styles of martial arts, they are especially important for Taijiquan.  This article discusses these principles.

From the very beginning of Taiji several hundred years ago, Taiji was always viewed as a good exercise for health and a good martial art.  When we discuss Taiji as a martial art, often we refer to it as Taijiquan, or the fist of Taiji.  The fundamental concept behind Taijiquan is that one does not oppose an attacking force head-on, because then whoever is the bigger and stronger will win.  Instead, one deflects the attacking force or one supplements the attacking force with a force along the direction of the attacking force, as well as many other techniques.  Then the winner does not have to be the person who is bigger or stronger.  We elaborate on these two approaches.

Deflect:  If the attacking force is along the x-direction, then a deflection force with a component along the y-direction will be able to deflect the attacking force. In principle, this deflection force can be very small, and it will still be able to deflect the attacking force, since the attacking force has no component along the y-direction.  This is the basis for the famous Chinese saying “4 ounces can deflect a thousand pounds.”  However, the speed in which the deflection can occur will depend on the size of the deflection force.  So in a realistic application, the deflection force has to be reasonable, but it definitely does not have to be comparable to the attacking force.

This principle is applied all the time in Taijiquan (as well as in other styles of martial arts).  For example, if A (person in black) tries to punch the head of B (person in white) with A’s right fist.  B can mitigate this attack by raising his left hand to deflect A’s right fist to B’s left.

 

A tries to punch B’s head with his right fist

   

B raises left arm to deflect punch by applying a small force perpendicular to A’s attacking force

 

As explained earlier, because A’s attacking force is along the x-direction, as long as B’s deflection force has a component along the y-direction, it will be able to deflect the attacking force even if B is smaller and not as strong as A.

Supplement:  Besides deflecting the attacking force, B can also use another method to mitigate A’s attack by supplementing A’s attacking force along the direction of the attack.  In the above example when A tries to strike B with a force along the x-direction, B can use his arms to apply a force also along x-direction.  Since A is already moving along the x-direction, by supplementing with a force also along the x-direction, B can pull A off balance.

When A senses that he is being pulled off balance, he can change direction by stopping his movement along the x-direction and pull back in the opposite direction.  When B senses that A is changing direction, then B can change from being a defender to becoming an attacker by changing his motion also.  Now, B moves his left foot forward to behind A’s right foot to keep A from being able to step back easily, and at the same time moves his left arm forward and up against A’s upper body, causing A to bend and fall backward.

This sequence of moves is illustrated in the photos below:

 A tries to strike B on the chest with his right fist B turns body to right, then sandwiches A’s right arm with his two arms, and also pulls A in direction he was moving
If A senses that he is losing balance and pulls his right arm back and also moves backward, then B also changes direction.  B takes step forward with his left foot to prevent A from easily moving backward or to B’s left, and at the same time moves his left arm (which is under A’s right arm) diagonally upward (and also slightly to left) toward A’s head while using his right hand to press B’s right arm downward.  During this movement, B also rotates his waist from right to left to add more force to his counter attack.  The end result is that A’s right arm is locked in an awkward and painful position, and A’s head and body are being pushed backward and to B’s left while B’s left foot traps A from moving in that direction  

This sequence of moves initiated by using the supplement principle illustrates how to mitigate an opponent’s attacking force and then followed by changing from being a defender to an attacker.  It also illustrates the meaning of the Taiji symbol.

Taiji Symbol

In the Taiji symbol, the black and white fish-like symbols represent two people engaged in martial art.  For example, person A can be represented by the black fish-like symbol in an attack mode, and person B can be represented by the white fish-like symbol in a defend mode.  The small black dot within the white fish-like symbol represents the attack potential of person B.  That attack potential can change from potential to reality, and the black dot changes to become the black fish-like symbol.  This can be thought of as the Taiji symbol rotates, the black part becomes the white part, and the white part becomes the black part.  Similarly, one can think of the small white dot within the black fish-like symbol to represent A’s defend potential, and when that defend potential becomes reality, the white dot becomes the white fish-like symbol.

Therefore, the Taiji symbol explains the essence of Taijiquan.  One moment one can be in a defend mode, and then quickly changes to an attack mode, and vice versa, one can be in an attack mode, and then quickly changes to a defend mode.  When one is in a defend mode, there is the potential to become the attack mode, and vice versa, when one is in an attack mode, there is the potential to become the defend mode.  Such transformation can be continuous throughout the martial art engagement.

Summary:  From a martial art perspective, Taiji does not necessarily depend on who has the superior strength.  By using various techniques, including deflect and supplement, Taijiquan can be a very effective martial art which does not necessarily require superior strength to win. [1]  Although other styles of martial arts also use many of these principles, they are intrinsically important in Taijiquan.

 


[1] See, e.g., “Martial Applications of Taijiquan“:  http://www.dontow.com/2008/12/martial-applications-of-taijiquan/, “Taiji and Martial Arts“:  http://www.dontow.com/2010/06/taiji-and-martial-arts/, “Yin-Yang Theory and Martial Applications of Martial Art“:  http://www.dontow.com/2006/12/yin-yang-theory-and-martial-applications-of-taijiquan/, and “Underlying Foundations of Taiji Movements: Perspective from Martial Applications”:  http://www.dontow.com/2008/08/underlying-foundations-of-taiji-movements-perspective-from-martial-applications/.

 

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Can the American Dream Be Continued? – II http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/can-the-american-dream-be-continued-ii/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/can-the-american-dream-be-continued-ii/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2018 20:50:30 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=5019 The U.S. has long been known as a country where if you work and study hard, then you, or at least your children, will be able to get a good education, a good job, and live a reasonably comfortable life.  This is known as the American Dream.  Every year especially after the end of WWII, thousands and thousands of people from all over the world have immigrated to this country (most legally, and some illegally) to seek and often achieve the American Dream.  There are of course many reasons, e.g., the American democratic form of government and the American pioneering and entrepreneur spirit, for making the American Dream possible.  In a January 2010 article “Can the American Dream Be Continued?“, we discussed an often-overlooked significant contributing factor to the American Dream, i.e., the unique geographical and natural environment in which the U.S. grew during the first 200+ years of its existence.  In this article, we revisit this issue and elaborate on the implications of not properly taken into account this contributing factor to the American Dream.

Review of the Unique U.S. Environment:  The U.S. is really unique in terms of geographic or natural opportunities during most of its existence.  It offered a vast country with a very small native population.  It offered good natural resources and vast land ideal for agriculture and cattle ranging.  Thus, there was always room to expand and enough resources to share, instead of being a zero-sum situation where one could gain only at the expense of someone else.  The country actually welcomed more new comers to help develop the vast land.  It was partially due to immigration to the U.S. of so many of the best and brightest from other countries that propelled the U.S. economic engine to become the richest and most powerful country in the world.

The U.S. is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the East and the Pacific Ocean on the West, providing natural barriers from foreign aggressors.  It is bordered on the north and the south by two relatively new countries also with a vast land of their own and a small native population.  Until WWII, the U.S. was able to live relatively peacefully without worrying too much about the threat of foreign invasion.  Thus, it could focus its resources and energy internally to develop the country.

Furthermore, the U.S. suffered relatively minor damages from WWII.  That and the above advantages enabled it to develop into the richest and most powerful country in the world after WWII.  Then for another 30-50 years before several other countries (e.g., first Germany and Japan, and then Korea, India and China) developed into credible economic competitors, the U.S. was able to reap great economic advantages all over the world.

This is not to deny that other factors (e.g., its democratic system of government, the American pioneering and entrepreneur spirit) were also significant contributors to the success of the U.S. during the first two hundred years of its existence.  The point we want to make is that there was almost an ideal geographical and natural environment for the U.S. during most of its existence that greatly helped it to develop into the richest and most powerful country in the world and created the foundation for the American Dream.

Continuing Expanding Economy and Zero Sum Economy:  When a country has vast land and natural resources to share, adding more people does not create a problem, because there is plenty to share.  Not only that it does not introduce a problem, it actually helps the country to grow, because the U.S. can use the additional manpower and intelligence to cultivate the land, work in the factories, create new initiatives, etc.  In its first 200 years of existence, the U.S. was basically living in a continuing expanding economy, and therefore could absorb and welcome lots of immigrants, especially when among the immigrants were the best and brightest from all over the world.  However, starting near the end of the 20th century when the U.S. no longer has an almost unlimited amount of land and natural resources to share, it gradually changes from a “continuing expanding economy” to an almost “zero sum economy,” when giving more to one person may require a reduction for another person unless you can grow the size of the pie.  When you couple this change with the emergence of credible economic competitors from several other countries around the world, it leads to the question of whether the American Dream can be continued.  In order for the American Dream to continue, we must grow the size of the pie.

How Can We Continue to Make the Pie Larger?  Human beings have both a positive side and a negative side. [1]  The positive side takes more into consideration what is good for the larger community, and the negative side takes more into consideration what is good for me (or me and my family).  The political and social culture of a country can encourage or inhibit more on the positive side or the negative side.  In a continuing expanding economy, not cultivating the positive side of human behavior does not necessarily stop the country from meeting the needs of the majority of its people, because there are always room to expand and enough resources to share.  However, in a zero sum economy, without expanding the size of the pie, it will be difficult to satisfy the needs of a continuously growing population.  In order to grow the size of the pie, the people must work together for the good of the whole.  Therefore, the country must cultivate and encourage actions and policies that can foster people showing more the positive side.  Whether the American Dream can continue will depend on how the American society responds to this challenge.

How Is the American Society Responding to this Challenge?  Although facing this great challenge of the need to increase the size of the pie, the culture and policies adopted by the American society in the last decade have continued as before. They continue to encourage and reward those who exhibit more of the negative side. We illustrate with a few examples. [2]

  • Collapse of the Financial Market: The event that has captured the public and media’s attention in 2008 was the near-collapse of the financial market (occurring first in the U.S. and rapidly spreading to the whole world).  This collapse was due to many banks and mortgage companies and various insurance companies investing in high risk mortgage loans and investments derived from these risky mortgage loans.  During the several previous years of booming housing market when house prices kept going up and people kept buying houses with loans they really couldn’t afford, these companies made billions and billions of profits.  It was not that the people who were reaping these huge profits did not realize that these loans and derivative investments were intrinsically risky and the boom was built on a house of cards that sooner or later would collapse.  They didn’t care, because their motive was to make as much money as possible for themselves and their companies.  The fact that what they were doing could lead to financial disasters for the country and the world is a problem to be worried about later and more importantly is someone else’s problem.
  • Greedy Aftermath Following the Burst of the Financial Bubble:  To keep the financial meltdown from spreading, the U.S. government offered bail outs to many companies.  Companies like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase who had record earnings in 2009 at first accepted the bailout money from the federal government, and then repay the bailout money ahead of schedule when they realized that their plan to give record bonuses in 2009 would result in federal financial scrutiny if they still have the bailout money.  [2]  Again, their motive was to make as much money as possible for themselves, independent of whether their actions were for the good of the country.
  • Recently Passed Tax Law:  The recently passed tax law including tax reduction at the top obviously benefited the very rich, and would increase the disparity between the rich and the poor.  Furthermore, it would significantly increase the federal deficit, leaving this critically serious problem for future generations to face.  The fact that it benefits the rich even if it is not good for the country in the long run did not bother the rich and the people in power.
  • Inaction in Congress:  How many times have we observed in Congress that votes were cast basically along party lines.  To vote along the party line and to retain the support of that party’s leaders and funders were more important than to vote for what is in the best interest of the American people.
  • Essentially No Action from the Republican Party in Investigating Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election:  Republicans as a whole basically have dragged their feet in investigating what should be a most important meddling by a foreign power in the internal affairs of the U.S.  Just imagine what would be their attitude and actions if the Russian meddling was to favor the Democratic Party.  If our objective is for the good of the American people, then our decisions should not be almost purely partisan.
  • Greed and Self-Centric Motive in Labor Unions:  Labor unions definitely serve a useful purpose.  Without labor unions, profits earned from the labor of the employees will not be nearly as well distributed, resulting in a small and very rich owner/manager class and a large and very poor worker class.  However, with the increasing power and influence of labor unions, labor unions often continue to demand higher salaries and better benefits which sometimes can no longer be sustained from a business point of view, especially when their government or corporation is getting closer and closer to insolvency.  Past examples are the airline and auto industries.  State governments and local school districts have been facing tremendous budgetary shortfalls and higher taxes, yet teacher unions continue to oppose strongly any significant sharing of the health insurance premium even though most other types of workers today contribute a non-negligible share of their health insurance premiums.
  • Entitlement Attitude Toward Government Subsidy:  Government subsidy is often needed for the poor and the underprivileged.  However, one should do his/her upmost to rid of the need for the subsidy, and should not adopt the attitude of entitlement to the subsidy.  One should work hard to be self-dependent and should not continue to take the government subsidy.
  • Gun Control:  It has become crystal clear that the lack of control on sales and registration of guns and assault weapons poses serious dangers to our children in schools.  Yet because of the powerful lobbying influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA), meaningful gun control legislation has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress.  Apparently what fills the pockets of guns and ammunition makers and dealers and their lobbying contributions are more important to American law makers than the safety of our school children and the American public at large.  We hope that the recent protest movement led by the surviving students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that has spread across the whole country can finally break this long-standing roadblock.  This protest movement and the resultant nationwide brush-fire it has ignited gives us a glimmer of hope that the traditional way of doing business in the American society could be altered to give us the potential of continuing the American Dream.

Assessment:  One may say that all the things and behaviors just discussed are not necessarily new; they more or less have always been occurring.  Yes, but when they were occurring in a continuing growing economy, the impact is nowhere as bad, because there was room to expand and there were enough resources to share with the middle and lower classes.  However, after 200+ years, the advantages of the intrinsic U.S. environment have been mostly spent.  Unless we emphasize how to work together synergistically to grow the pie, we end up in a zero sum economy, when greed and self-centric behavior will lead to a growing gap between the rich and the poor, and policies such as a rapidly growing federal deficit or voting purely by party affiliation which in the short term may benefit certain people, but in the long term will be disastrous for the country as a whole.

As stated earlier, this is not to deny that other factors (e.g., the American democratic system of government and the American pioneering and entrepreneur spirit) were also significant contributors to the success of the U.S. during the first two hundred years of its existence.  Furthermore, we do not mean to imply that more greed and more self-centered motive are found in the U.S. than in other countries.  As a matter of fact, we believe that there are more similarities than differences among people from various countries.  Every human being has a positive side and a negative side.  In a continuing expanding economy, the adverse consequences of exhibiting more of the negative side are no where as severe as in a zero sum economy.  The U.S. and most of the world are now in a zero sum economy.  Whoever can exhibit more of the positive side will create a larger pie and come out first in the competition.  If the U.S. comes out first, then the American Dream can be continued.

Summary:  For over 200+ years, the U.S. offered the American Dream, i.e., if you are willing to study hard and work hard, then you will have a good future:  A good education, a good job, and a good life, if not for yourself, then for your children.  Millions of people from all over the world have immigrated to the U.S. to seek and then fulfilled the American Dream.  This American Dream is real, but can it continue into the future?  We discuss that a significant contributing factor to the success of the American Dream is the unique geographical and natural environment enjoyed by the U.S. for 200+ years of its existence, when it was mostly a continuing expanding economy.  However, after 200+ years and with emerging economic competitors, the U.S. has been transitioning to a zero sum economy.  In order for the American Dream to continue, we can no longer do business as in the past, because we must make the pie larger, and we must build up the culture and adopt policies that encourage people to cultivate their positive side.  Only by working synergistically, can we grow the pie and benefit all the people.  Whether the American Dream can be continued will depend on whether the American society is willing to make the change from doing business as usual to doing business while keeping in mind the interest of the whole society.  Events in the last decade or two do not give us a positive outlook, but we see a glimmer of hope from the recent youth-led protest movement on gun control following the mass murder in a Florida high school.

Similarly, the discussion can also be carried over into international relations.  In order for the U.S. to win friends around the world, our foreign policies must be based on win-win situations.


[1] This is not necessarily inconsistent with the Christian belief that all people are sinners, because different standards are involved.

[2] More examples and information were provided in “Can the American Dream Be Continued?

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Site Overview http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/home/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/home/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2018 07:30:04 +0000 http://dontow.com/wordpress/?p=366 The www.dontow.com is the website of Don M. Tow. It contains articles in three topical categories (or pages): Political/Social Commentary, Taiji, and Other Topics.  Currently, a new release of this website is published usually every three months.  The website also has a fourth category “Soccer” about the soccer book that I published in 2006.

Any article in a particular category can be accessed via the corresponding category on the menu bar at the top of the page.  Any article in a particular release can be accessed via the corresponding release on the right sidebar.

This website began in October 2006, and the website has been redesigned twice, once in October 2008, and the second time in November 2009.

We welcome comments from readers. Readers can directly submit their comments at the end of any article.

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Nanking Massacre 80th Anniversary Commemoration: From the Eyes and Words of Eye Witnesses http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/nanking-massacre-80th-anniversary-commemoration-from-the-eyes-and-words-of-eye-witnesses/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/nanking-massacre-80th-anniversary-commemoration-from-the-eyes-and-words-of-eye-witnesses/#respond Sun, 24 Dec 2017 08:00:53 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4948 This year (2017) marks the 80th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre, one of the worst atrocities in human history.  It is a time in history that:

  • atrocious cruelties were inflicted by one group of humans on another group of humans where within six weeks about 300,000 Chinese (including civilians, women and children) just in the city of Nanking were killed by the Japanese Imperial Army, and where about 20,000 women and girls were raped
  • a group of courageous men and women (most were foreigners from Western countries), now called upstanders, who risked their own lives and set up an International Safety Zone in Nanking that sheltered and saved about 250,000 Chinese from being slaughtered and thousands of Chinese women and girls from being raped
  • lessons can be learned, because similar types of atrocities can occur again in many parts of this world if we don’t learn from this part of history
  • reminds us of the power of one, i.e., one person or a small group of persons can start a movement that can change the world

Here is the complete Powerpoint presentation that was presented on December 6, 2017 at the “Nanking Massacre 80th Anniversary Commemoration” at the Monmouth County Library Headquarter in Manalapan, New Jersey that was organized by the New Jersey Alliance for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (NJ-ALPHA). Since this complete file is very large (95 MB), it may take a couple of minutes to load, so have patience.  Here is the much smaller Powerpoint presentation without the embedded audio files (611 KB).

This program presents the observations of eyewitnesses (Westerners, Chinese, and Japanese) that were recorded in their letters, diaries, movies, and interviews that provide undeniable evidence of the existence and magnitude of the Nanking Massacre, which is still denied by the Japanese government 72 years after the end of WWII.

The attached complete Powerpoint presentation contains the following:

  1. Brief background information about the Nanking Massacre
  2. Selected quotes from these eye witnesses (with the audio files embedded and automatically played) [1]
  3. The Internet link of a 26.5-minute documentary based on John Magee’s home movie filmed during the Nanking Massacre that was smuggled out of China and widely shown in the U.S. and the world in 1938 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7R5N6qWScU).

This complete Powerpoint presentation provides a self-contained program that could be reused by someone else.  Any organization who wants to present a program on the Nanking Massacre has my permission to use the above Powerpoint presentation, as long as the first page of the Powerpoint presentation is also shown.

For background music before the start of the program, the following musical pieces are excellent candidates [2]:

It is important to note that this proposal to bring back past history is not to seek revenge, but to learn from history so that past mistakes will not be repeated again any where in the world, and studying this history will help to reconcile the involved countries and people.


[1] I wish to thank Eric Tow for the technical help with embedding the audio files and made them played automatically in the Powerpoint file.

[2] I wish to thank Ying-Ying Chang for suggesting these musical pieces.

 

 

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Tailoring Taiji Classes to Audience – II http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/tailoring-taiji-classes-to-audience-ii/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/tailoring-taiji-classes-to-audience-ii/#respond Sun, 24 Dec 2017 07:00:25 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4971 This is a follow-on article to the article I posted two years ago with the same title “Tailoring Taiji Classes to Audience.”  In this new article, I elaborate more on three types of Taiji students:  Those with mobility handicaps, those with memory handicaps, and children.  The key concept is how to teach Taiji to each of these groups so that they can keep their interest and concentration, and at the same time what they learn to do in class is beneficial to them.  It turns out that a subset of the stretching and Qigong exercises that we usually do as warm up exercises to prepare the students’ bodies and minds to do Taiji are good exercises for these types of students, especially for the mobility-handicapped and memory-handicapped students.  The challenge to attract children requires some additional tailoring and creativity.

Students with a Mobility Handicap:  In this section we focus on people who cannot stand for an extensive amount of time, or they cannot walk without help or without a cane, or they are confined to a wheelchair.  Therefore, we will focus on exercises in which the student will do while sitting down.  Since Taiji is known as moving meditation and requires the practitioner to be moving, the usual Taiji exercises will not be suitable to these mobility-restricted students.  But what about the stretching and Qigong exercises that we do as warm up exercises for Taiji?  We now discuss several examples of these exercises.

We usually begin our Taiji class with a series of warm up exercises, such as stretching and Qigong [1] exercises.  In my classes, often the first one we do is the “wave hands like cloud” exercise in which we rotate our hands in front of our body while breathing in or out.  Each hand can be rotating clockwise or counterclockwise, and the two hands can rotate in phase or out of phase, so there are several such exercises. These exercises relax our mind, while exercising our arms and our upper bodies, including rotating our waist, and taking deep, slow breaths.  We can do all of these exercises while sitting down.

Another set of warm up exercises to prepare the body and mind to do Taiji exercises are Qigong exercises like the 1,000+ year-old “Eight Silk Brocade” (八段錦). [2]  Six of the eight “Eight Silk Brocade” exercises can be done sitting down.  This is especially important because the “Eight Silk Brocade” is among the most popular and most ancient set of Qigong exercises.

Another set of warm up exercises is the Paida Therapy (拍打自愈法), or Patting Exercises, in which we just pat various parts of our body with the flat parts or the fingers of our hands. [3]  These patting exercises can strengthen different parts of our body by stimulating blood and Qi [4] flow in the body, and can work from the top of our head to our feet.   Most of them can be done while standing up or sitting down, and therefore can be done while sitting in a wheelchair.

Another type of exercises that Taiji practitioners should do is meditation exercises (although many do not).  Meditation exercises are another type of Qigong exercises, and can calm and clear up the mind, while at the same time involve deep, slow breathing and develop Qi flow.  Meditation exercises can be done while standing up, sitting down, or lying down.  So mobility-impaired students can practice sitting down meditation.

These are just examples of various stretching and Qigong exercises that mobility-impaired students can participate.  They can do these exercises while sitting down, including in a wheel chair, and they will benefit from doing these exercises, both physically and mentally.  These exercises usually serve as warm up exercises for regular Taiji students, but for mobility-restricted students, they serve as the core of the exercises.

Students with a Memory Handicap:  In this section we focus on people who may have trouble remembering things, especially a sequence of instructions on the placements and movements of feet and hands while doing a Taiji form set.  This includes people who may have a memory health problem or just older people with recall difficulties as a natural consequence of advancing age.  Although the exercises we discussed in the previous section for mobility-handicap people also need to follow instructions in doing those exercises, the amount of instructions and the difficulty of the instructions for those exercises are significantly less than the instructions needed to do a normal Taiji form set.  Therefore, even if some students cannot remember all the instructions, the instructor can remind the students of the instructions while the students are doing those exercises.  Whereas if the instructor does that (i.e., providing all the necessary instructions) while the students are doing a normal Taiji form set, it will take a lot of time and disrupt the flow of doing the Taiji form set. [5]

Therefore, essentially all the stretching and Qigong exercises discussed in the previous section for mobility-handicap people can also be done by memory-handicap people:

  • Stretching exercises like “wave hands like cloud”
  • Ancient Qigong exercises like “Eight Silk Brocade”
  • Paida (or Patting) Therapy exercises
  • Meditation exercises (including standing meditation, and not just limited to sitting meditation)

There should not be much problem doing these exercises in class, because the instructor can remind them of any needed instructions while the students are doing the exercises.  When they try to do these exercises at home, they could run into problems.  That is where written instructions should be provided to the students to help to remind them while doing these exercises at home.  Also, YouTube videos on most of these exercises can be found in the Internet, or videos made by the instructor can be provided to the students.  They can then do these exercises at home while they are watching the video on their TV or computer screen.

Since these memory-handicap people are not mobility restricted, you can also teach them to do simple Taiji form sets, such as the Yang Style Form Set 1 (also called the 10 Forms) or Yang Style Form Set 2 (also called the 16 Forms).  Depending on the degree of their memory handicap, doing the Yang Style Form Set 3 (also called the 24 Forms) may require too much memory recall.

Children:  In this section, we focus on children, say between 6 and 12 years old (although the discussion can also apply to young teenagers).  With children, the issue is somewhat different from the previous two groups of mobility-handicap and memory-handicap people.  For children of age 6-12 (and to a lesser extent, their parents [6]), the major issues to attract and retain these students in Taiji classes are:

  • Their interest in attending the classes
  • The ability to keep their interest and attention during the classes
  • What their parents think their children will get out of the classes so that the parents will continue to bring them to these classes

How to keep children ages 6-12 interested in a Taiji class?   The class must be fun.  The class must stimulate their curiosity.  The class must tie to their life experience or their other activities.  Here are some possible methods.

One way of making the Taiji class fun and interesting to these children is to have the children think that doing a Taiji form set is like doing a dance routine.  We know from experience that many children are very much interested in learning dance routines.  However, for a first course in Taiji, the Taiji form sets must be simple, e.g., like the Yang Style Form Set 1 (10 Forms), or the Yang Style Form Set 2 (16 Forms), or perhaps even simpler form sets that the Taiji instructors may have to create themselves.  When creating new form sets, it may be worthwhile to add some movements that involve interactions between two or more students, e.g., using some techniques in the martial applications of Taiji as discussed in the next paragraph.  Then while doing the form set, there will be interactions between different students so that the exercise is like a group game, thus generating more interest and fun for the children.

Taiji is both a good health exercise and a good martial art.  There are some basic martial art principles of Taiji that can be conveyed even to children and have them practice some simple techniques that illustrate these principles.  A basic principle of Taiji is that you do not resist a force head on, but by adding a force in the direction of the opponent’s force, you may cause your opponent to lose balance.  Another basic principle of Taiji is that a small force can deflect a much larger force (like the old saying “four ounces can deflect a thousand pounds”).  The instructor can choreograph simple movements involving a pair of students that illustrate these principles, and even include such movements into a form set that involve movements for pairs of students.

Most children in this age bracket of 6-12 probably have seen movies like Kung Fu Panda, The Karate Kid, movies by Jackie Chan or Jet Li, Shaolin Soccer, etc.  So they already know about Kung Fu and have some interest in learning Kung Fu techniques.  Therefore, including some simple martial applications of Taiji to illustrate the basic martial art principles of Taiji will generate more interest in Taiji and at the same time tie their Taiji class to some of their other life experiences, like the movies mentioned earlier.  In addition, initiating their interest in the martial arts applications of Taiji may lead to additional interest in learning Chinese or other types of martial arts, whether it is Taiji, Shaolin, Wing-Chun, or some other martial arts.

Since children have short attention spans, the Taiji class must be broken down in short segments of about 10-15 minutes each. This can be accomplished since we have a large list of activities we can choose from, including specific warm up, stretching, and breathing exercises, individual Taiji forms, integrating multiple Taiji forms into a Taiji form set, martial applications of Taiji, exercises to relax the mind, visualization of what we are doing to help retain what we have been learning.

All the above arguments that doing Taiji can generate interest in the children and keep their attention while learning something that is useful to their health and their life should be sufficient to convince their parents that their children are spending their time wisely. In addition, the parents may also notice that their children may be calmer, have longer attention spans, and get along better with others.  One friend of mine who teaches Taiji in England told me that the teachers were amazed how much calmer and cooperative of the children who have taken her Taiji classes.

Summary:  This article discusses three types of people who normally do not take Taiji classes:  mobility-handicapped people, memory-handicapped people, and children of age 6-12.  We argue that there are good reasons why each of these three types of people should be interested in taking Taiji classes.  By properly designing the classes, they can fruitfully participate in the classes and get significant benefits from it.

 


[1] Qigong exercises are stretching exercises integrated with breathing and meditation.

[2] See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baduanjin_qigong.  There are many Internet links for Eight Silk Brocade or Baduanjin.  Because it has been around for more than 1,000 years, there are many variations of the exercises.  Therefore, many of the YouTube exercises you find may not be identical.

[3] See, e.g., “Lajing and Paida Therapy – Reviving Ancient Chinese Self-Healing Exercises”:  http://www.dontow.com/2013/09/lajing-and-paida-therapy-reviving-ancient-chinese-self-healing-exercises/.

[4] In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qi is some sort of bioelectric energy, or life force, that gets circulated and stored in the body.

[5] A major reason for putting a collection of forms into a Taiji form set is to make the exercise to last several minutes so that doing one Taiji form set will result in an aerobic exercise that increases our heart rate and oxygen flow throughout our body.  If we stop in each form because we have to provide a lot of instructions, then the aerobic nature of doing a Taiji form set is no longer there.

[6] It is the children’s parents who sign up and bring their children to the Taiji classes.

 

 

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“A Teacher’s Reflection: 2017 Peace and Reconciliation Asia Study Tour” by Lisa Wiater, English Teacher at Ridgewood High School, Ridgewood, NJ* http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/a-teachers-reflection-2017-peace-and-reconciliation-asia-study-tour-by-lisa-wiater-english-teacher-at-ridgewood-high-school-ridgewood-nj/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/a-teachers-reflection-2017-peace-and-reconciliation-asia-study-tour-by-lisa-wiater-english-teacher-at-ridgewood-high-school-ridgewood-nj/#respond Sun, 24 Dec 2017 06:00:23 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4937 The 2017 Peace and Reconciliation Asia Study Tour [1] was a two-week immersion program created to learn about WWII history in Asia.  It allowed me to gain knowledge that I could have never obtained by reading a book.  As a public high school teacher, I firmly believe that study tours are an invaluable way to educate teachers, for the knowledge that is gained is spread to family, friends, colleagues, and of course, students.

Additionally, as the daughter of a World War II veteran who fought in the Pacific Theater, it meant a great deal to go on this trip.  My home contains many photographs and pieces of memorabilia from my father and many uncles who all fought in the War.  Visiting the World War II museum, the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, was quite moving for me.  It contained many war scene reenactments, including details regarding the savagery that took place.  Interestingly, one of the newspapers on display contained the front page story from a newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts, a town very near to where I was raised.

Even though I had learned about World War II in school, I knew very little about the Nanking Massacre, slave labor, sex slaves, and biological and chemical warfare. Now, due to this study tour, I believe I know more than the average person.

The visits to the various museums and historical sites, including Unit 731, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, as well as the War and Women’s Human Rights Museum in Seoul, South Korea, left an unforgettable impression regarding the atrocities perpetrated at that time. Further, spending time with scholars who have dedicated their lives to studying, in some cases, the worst in humanity, is inspiring.  The trips to the many cities in China, as well as the visit to South Korea allowed me to not only learn about the various histories, but to experience some of their modern day cultures.

Moreover, after meeting with curators, researchers, authors and survivors, I was once again reminded that regardless of the historical event, all of history is a human story. I found it humbling to hear the stories of survivors who courageously agreed to recount their most harrowing times, all so that we could learn from them.   At the Nanking Museum, we heard the first-hand account of a survivor, Yi-Ying Ai, 89 years old.  I audio recorded her story, which was translated into English by a young college student.  Beyond reading testimonies, I believe it is important to hear the emotions that are so raw and honest, because even if one does not understand the language, one cannot mistake the sorrow and heartache that is heard.  One action that will not be heard on the recording, however, will be the tears that fell repeatedly during her testimony.  The survivor would speak and then pause, allowing the translator to tell her story.  I always watched the survivor’s actions.  While everyone was looking and listening to the translator, the survivor was wiping tears from her eye.  This happened numerous times.  She was telling us a story that happened 80 years ago, and yet she remembered it like it was yesterday; she was reliving all the pain right before our eyes.  As she recounted her story to us, she shared something her mother told her, “Do not be terrified of the corpses. You should only be terrified of live persons.”  How sad and yet, how profound.

As a public school teacher, I believe it is important for students to be exposed to the impact of people’s actions; this includes the perpetrators and victims, but also the upstanders–those who make a positive difference through their involvement. History seems to focus on those who commit heinous acts, but students should also learn about individuals such as John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin and John Magee.  I was not aware of these people, or their courage, prior to this trip.  These people risked their own lives to help innocent victims during the Nanking Massacre.   By teaching students about moral courage, we are all reminded that one person can make a difference.  This is an important lesson that needs to be taught and reinforced.

To that end, as a result of this study tour, various initiatives will take place at my school, Ridgewood High School, in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

  • Making a Difference Speaker Series:  This is a Speaker Series that offers high school students the opportunity to hear 5 different individuals speak about their life in the context of a key historical event.  The general premise is that speakers provide a personal story–not a history presentation, per se–but rather, show how they or their family was impacted by a key event in history.  As the creator of this program, my goal has been to help students see the personal side of history and how an individual’s decision can impact another.  Prior to a speaker’s arrival, the teachers/classes that attend are obligated to be prepared by reading and discussing materials disseminated weeks in advance of the survivor’s testimony.  Following a speaker, teachers/classes also hold a whole class discussion.  I am pleased that Don Tow (President of NJ-ALPHA) and Mr. Chu-Yeh Chang, a survivor of the Nanking Massacre will be two of our speakers.  Since it is the 80th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre, I believe it is essential that we have a representative from the Massacre speak this year.
  • Shared folders with colleagues:  On the trip, I bought numerous books, DVDS, and postcard books.  I have taken these items, along with any other materials related to the atrocities that occurred in Asia during World War II and created a “Google Folder,” to share with other teachers, namely in the Humanities areas.  This includes, at a minimum, History, English, and Psychology teachers.
  • Professional Development Presentations/Collaboration:  As a result of this trip, I have been discussing various aspects of the tour with my colleagues.  Additionally, when appropriate, I will also speak at future Social Studies and English department meetings, as well as providing a PowerPoint presentation on the three Upstanders mentioned earlier.  I may also present to students in various History classes.  From other presentations I have done, I have learned that students greatly appreciate seeing pictures taken by a teacher, not by someone else.  Students have stated that it makes the topic more “real” to them.  Therefore, by not only speaking about my study tour, it will make a greater impact if I also show them some of my numerous photographs.
  • Documentary by Tamaki Matsuoka, “Torn Memories of Nanjing”:  The school is considering showing this documentary.  I believe the showing of this film will once again show students and staff that horrific crimes can be perpetrated by “ordinary” people. Further, it will highlight the dedication shown by Ms. Matsuoka of Osaka, Japan, once a school teacher, who now devotes her life to learning and educating others about the Nanking Massacre.  I am honored to say that I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Matsuoka when she came to Nanjing to speak to us and show her award-winning documentary.
  • Student trip to China:  The school is considering a student trip to China where the focus would be on learning about the history related to the Nanking Massacre.  Mr. Tow has been generous in offering to assist me in this endeavor, should it go forward.

Whether it is the Nanking Massacre, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide or another mass killing, all of these terrible times in history share similar characteristics. Unfortunately, some of these common themes can also be seen in the world today. The 2017 Peace & Reconciliation Asia Study Tour helped me to further solidify these commonalities. It also provided me with the necessary information and materials that can be utilized with my students, colleagues and administration, thus working to ensure that the events that occurred in Asia during World War II will not be forgotten.  It is vital that we teach about history; it is our only hope for a better future.

 


* I thank Lisa Wiater for giving me permission to post her article on my website.

[1] The 2017 Peace and Reconciliation Asia Study Tour was organized by the “New Jersey Alliance for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia” (NJ-ALPHA).

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