So as through a glass, and darkly
David Chen wanted to write a novel about the world not with a pen, but with a computer matrix. Although appearing as the first character, he is not going to be the hero of the book just like the famous Chinese Novel -- 水浒 also known as "All men are brothers" or badly translated as "Water Margin" for a title some times. The pens are mightier than swords alright, but in the age of smart bombs and weapons of mass destructions, it's only reasonable that something more powerful gets used to write the world's greatest novel. Besides linguistic languages from nations, programming languages would be heavily used to add extra fire powers. Some said music is the language of the God and others said so is mathematics, people with those "language" talents and specialties in arts and sciences are welcome to be novelists too. In fact, many techniques that could be expressive would be used in this novel whenever possible. It was said that gun powders were accidentally discovered by alchemists for the purposes of extending lives and mainly used for celebratory purposes in earlier days, until people turned them into the agents of killing. Going by the reverse direction, David wondered whether it is also possible that satellite images could be used to draw maps as the leaf pages of a novel or bombs could be detonated as firecrackers to celebrate holidays different from their originally intended design purposes. Maybe when nuclear bombs and equivalent technologies are only used to celebrate the birth of, say: a baby Bob Smith, or used to hunt down Moby Dick, that would be the day when peace finally dawned on Earth.
David was sitting in his office located in Richmond, BC Canada, supposedly with the best window view in the company. Cross the hallway away from streets, in a heated debate among junior developers, a raspy voice from Jack Pennington, rose above all others' in the cubical area: "You know what I think about graduate school? Well, I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but it is for people who do not have the guts to face the real world . . ."
David was one of those people who had gone through too many graduate schools. Since entering school at the age of 7, he had spent exactly 15 years of his life in China and 15 years afterwards in US and Canada. He's now quantitatively half-Chinese and half-American after learning to read, write, and seek educations. It was the famous "Tiananmen Massacre" of 1989 that disappointed him so much and made him became infinitely curious about the world outside of China. He wanted to see what it was like in the other countries by whichever means possible. Luckily, he was able to find a road to the United States through graduate study in environmental geology by taking tests and writing papers in broken English that were understood only by a handful of professors in a Midwestern small town university. Outside of the campus, he felt like living in a wooden or plastic box of a TV or a radio day after day. That was because English was something he had only heard in the electronic devices/boxes before setting feet on US soil. He could not understand the people and places surrounding him and vice versa.
But contrary to many tales of nostalgia in the new world, he was happy -- happy like a baby just freshly getting out of the womb of his young mother. "That must have been how I learned Chinese culture and language before, once upon a time. . ." he reflected about that feeling of rebirth as if he remembered being an infant and getting delivered. He felt like cheering privately because people often wanted to start their lives all over again in tough times and not many of them actually got to do it. Being such a lucky one, it was important to make a good "new life resolution" in order to make one better than a previous one. "Wait a minute" David thought to himself, "What would a baby do when he or she first comes to this world? A baby would just follow whatever other people were speaking at the time, regardless of what others were saying". So he started blindly following every English speaking person surrounding him, talking and gesturing with or without comprehension just like a newborn. In reality though, he did have more life experiences than an authentic new baby. His Chinese life experiences made him firmly remembered something like "practice makes perfect" or 熟能生巧. His mimic acts and speeches happened in classrooms, reading rooms, cafeterias, garages, gas stations, dining rooms, living rooms . . . everywhere he could catch an English phrase in the wind. Whenever he heard English words, he started pronouncing the same words, although as silently as possible.
To speak, but be silent at the same time, wasn't always easy. Sometimes, this muffler made of human flesh just didn't always work well. To avoid the suspicion of being thought of as mocking people by repeating their words, like an obnoxious kid, he bought a lot of chewing gums as disguises. The "new life resolution" included learning to be a US high school equivalent, culturally and linguistically in about 10 years. He believed with his previous life experience, this was achievable and realistic since he was determined to practice more diligently than a real baby. On went his "growing up competition" as a half-American, against babies born on the North American Continent at the beginning of the 90's.
After 15 years with M. S. and MBA degrees plus 13 years in North American work forces to learn what "B.S." means, and "M.S." means "more the same" and "PH. D" means "pile higher and deeper", just to prove his high school equivalency in his adopted "mother country", now he wondered if he had come to an end of another life again, and more importantly, what to do next. "Can somebody really 'adopt' a mother?" David asked himself. "How many people can truly adopt a child for God's sake"?
The disappointment and confusion that he was --currently facing was equally great as in his previous life. With a little deeper understanding about both Chinese and American cultures now, and more than a dozen years older and wiser, he wondered whether deceptions in propagandas of any nations were often intentional or unintentional. As a result of which, he wondered how little understanding each people truly had about the other. Going beyond the two countries and talking about the lives of immigrants, business people, professionals, soldiers and world travelers in general, he disliked how the East and West conducted their businesses as of now and wondered how long the traditions would last, or rather, how soon the status quo would end. The wind of "globalization" was certainly blowing, and the answers were not in the wind.
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