Headlines from Asia and America on WWII

August 15th marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. For decades around this date, Japanese prime ministers have offered declarations for what their government did to their neighbors back then. Over the course of the past few days, I have seen plenty of articles about Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement and how his words were received by a few countries, including America. Headlines seem to speak volumes about a country’s agenda and intentions. Or would it be the president’s? Here’s mine.

https://meetville.com/images/quotes/Quotation-Neil-Postman-honesty-business-excellence-politics-clarity-Meetville-Quotes-34914.jpg
https://meetville.com/images/quotes/Quotation-Neil-Postman-honesty-business-excellence-politics-clarity-Meetville-Quotes-34914.jpg

Truth be told, I’m not into politics. I have my reasons, but they will be saved for another time. I am however transparently into people and how they treat each other based off of past events, current situations, and future possibilities. As I’ve read news articles this week, I have been engrossed by how headlines and statements can be phrased differently based on which outlet is feeding the information.

Abe profound grief
CNN’s headline
Abe refrains
XinhuaNet is a top news source within China
US welcomes Abe statement
a Japanese newspaper on America’s responses

The list and pictures could go on while sources within the same borders contrast in their opinions. For example, what CNN says above seems to be the opposite of what the New York Times is trying to get across to their readers.

What I’d like to do is see this story from the angles of the Chinese, Japanese, and American.

Chinese

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying, Japan “needs to recognize and reflect on its history to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.” If trust still needs to be won, then the trust obviously isn’t there. I don’t know who she is speaking for as far as neighbors and community, but this statement is not to be taken lightly. China’s sources seem to be seeking an apology for the millions who were affected by WWII. I try to imagine the depth of this while feeling saddened that many of my students’ parents on WeChat are posting celebratory and deprecating comments about Japan. Is forgiveness an option? I dare ask since our English office of Chinese, Canadian, and American descent last year had moments of tension due to China/Japan relations being discussed. Each time, it seemed that the foreigners “don’t understand.” I want to. I seriously want to.

What are Chinese people expecting every year in the statements? A checklist of words, the LA Times surmises, that include “colonial rule,” “aggression,” and “apology” like the prime minister did back in 1995? Clear expectations from both sides would definitely help.

Japanese

From Prime Minister Abe’s speech, he echoes the apologies of the past but doesn’t see a need for more in the future. “Postwar generations now exceed 80% of Japan’s population.” This has me wondering how much of China’s population is postwar. Numbers anyone? From my American perspective, I’d be hinting at how repetitive apologies, over time, become meaningless. How does this differ in Asian culture? I’m all ears there. How long or much will it take to “win the trust”?

But wait a minute, how could people say this statement was “watered-down” or not enough? Maybe it’s because of how Japanese textbooks still discuss WWII and other events? (Side note: This is an issue that takes place worldwide. Just look at Texas’ recent controversy.) Is Japan’s long-term goal to alter future generations and their knowledge of WWII events? It is one thing to learn from one’s history so not to be doomed by it, but it’s a whole other ballgame to change history. As a teacher myself, I ask: How can my students learn from history if it’s modified to fit one’s agenda and show that mistakes of the past weren’t ours?

American

I haven’t personally experienced a time where millions of Americans have died from war. Therefore, I can only share something a black American coworker of mine shared last year. This was over a conversation at lunch when he, a Canadian, and I were discussing why the Chinese in our office took so much offense to our questions and opinions. He said, “If I could, I’d tell them how I could still be mad at white people because of what happened years ago.” We also came to a 9/11 point where the topic of radical Islam was approached. None of us were directly affected by either of these events, so we have been quick to forgive. We think those who have direct connections struggle much, much harder. Meanwhile, forgiveness and love should be the ultimate goals. Right?

I’m not surprised to see the Pew Research Center say that “Americans believe that Japan has atoned for its actions during WWII.” That’s probably where I (and probably my students) don’t sit well with some Chinese.

Nonetheless, I think it’s clear to see that every country has its history and its blind spots. While one group points their fingers at another, the phrase that “three fingers are pointing right back at you” becomes rather less cliché.

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News of China Through American Eyes

The point of this blog from the beginning has been for people from outside of China to come more to an understanding of Chinese culture, people, history, etc. Since visiting family and friends in America this summer, I have been checking several news sites daily regarding China and various topics. There are numerous articles on the country from different perspectives on current events and situations. At times, I have become so enthralled by the headlines. Too often, I don’t stop and reflect on the stories through the eyes of the local Chinese (or Asians) around us.

the BBC China page pulled up at 4:39pm EST on August 12, 2015

What would the article sound like to them? Because of growing up in America, how has my past affected the way I interpret news about this foreign country? Have the locals heard some of these stories? I’d like to discuss this interesting article with a few taxi drivers. How can I come to understand these millions of people?

I never will. Completely. I mean, come on. Millions of people…literally. I don’t even understand the people I’m closest to in my life.

But that doesn’t mean I will stop trying.

Therefore, I have planned from now on for the next year to choose one news story a week to cite, expand upon it from my developing outlook, and hopefully reach a point of more understanding or better dialogue to go in that direction.

pensive coffee drinking

Look out for the first story to come out some time this weekend.

Dear Miss Swift

in Asia for the Speak Now Tour – http://tinyurl.com/swiftinasia

Dear Miss Swift,

My name is Daniel Scott, and I am an English teacher in China. I teach 5th and 6th grade, which seems to be a prime time for students to start listening to music in our language. (By the way, do you speak any other languages?) A majority of the boys listen to and recite Michael Jackson and Maroon 5 while the girls mention your name or lyrics often either in the classroom or on Chinese social media. Some of them went berserk when they heard you’d be coming to China, even if Shanghai is a two-hour plane ride from where we are in Qingdao.

Now, I work in a private Chinese school, and these children I speak of are almost all Chinese students with a few being Korean. Let that sink in, if it hasn’t already. I see you have 60 million+ Twitter followers (I’m not ashamed to be one of them). You have been nominated and won numerous awards while crossing genres. And there is a new line of clothing coming out on a couple shopping sites here in China (Smart move since much on those sites can definitely be fake). More important than all of these matters is the fact that you are impacting my students’ lives in what they say, how they feel, and what they will believe during their short times on Earth.

An article from the LA Times in 2011 quotes you from a “60 Minutes” interview where you said:

I definitely think about a million people when I’m getting dressed in the morning, and that’s just part of my life now. I think it’s my responsibility to know it and to be conscious of it. It would be really easy to say, ‘I’m 21 now, I do what I want. You raise your kids,’ but it’s not the truth of it. The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation, so make your words count.

Four years later, how do you think you are doing? I am not calling you out. As a teacher (Shoot, even when I was in elementary), I was guided in how to reflect, journal, and change who I was for the better. Why? John Maxwell says, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” Today’s world is quite different from the past. What I want for my students are updates somehow about what you are learning and how you are growing as a person, written by none other then you but not in songs or tweets (though I have agreed with my students that you are a master with lyrics). What do you think?

Being a teacher for only five years, one thing has stuck in my mind since year one. Relationships are the most important factor for any learning to take place. My students listen to your songs, watch the music videos or concert snippets, and share them with whoever they are connected with on the outlets here. What they do not see or hear is how your heart has transformed over time. What if the students could learn more from you? What deeper impacts could you make from your platform? Though I know you do not make political statements because of your influence, you would not have to. Your actions have shown some of who you are, but what we want to hear are more learning experiences that happen. Because, Miss Swift, you are important. You are impacting future generations worldwide. You matter.

I hope you do not take this letter lightly because I have put my heart into it. Why? Because I am in China for the students, no matter where they come from. They matter, and I love them.

Thank you for any time or thoughts you may have. I hope the best for you and your future.

Blessings,
Daniel Scott

P.S.- If you find any time after your November 12th show to visit Qingdao, please let me know. My students and I would be more than willing to guide you through the city, culture, and people.

A Clear Sign to Stay

In the week of May 27th this year, we announced we would be returning to Warsaw, IN upon my acceptance of a teaching job there. The weeks following that decision turned out to be the hardest for me personally as well as a couple weeks for our marriage. Toward the beginning of June, I informed my fifth graders (at that time) of our leaving the school. I was met by many students crying, faces of disbelief, and even later told of one student who didn’t eat the rest of that day. The days the students were told were Thursday and Friday. That following weekend for me, I cried several times as well. The weeks afterward, I had trouble sleeping. Something was not right. I didn’t feel peace in my heart for a move back to the US. Not yet. Not now.

As God has a way of working, my wife pointed out something. “Daniel, this could be an emotional response.” And she’s right. I’m an emotional person. In times like these, I can’t help but feel an assortment of them. With that said, Marta and I took the past few weeks to pray individually, pray together, and discuss the future along with its details. I would pray for my emotions to not be involved, and for the Holy Spirit to either give us peace to leave or conviction to stay. (Side note: I firmly believe in the practice of praying dangerously.) As we talked and prayed, Marta would repeatedly say America is where we should go while I would vote for China.

We both saw positives and red flags in both places. Certain things could happen in both places. How do we decide what to do if we don’t agree and neither one of us budge on our stance? It was then, on Friday, June 19th that I told the school of the ultimatum that Marta suggested and I agreed to. If we can obtain our visas before leaving, we will stay in China. If not, we’ll return to the US. Mind you, getting work visas in China usually takes twenty or more work days. We gave them three. It was in this circumstance that we had to wait on a miracle from God above if He wanted us to stay overseas.

After June 19th, I started to mentally prep myself for the move back. I also had to remind myself what was brutally true. My wife had been mentally ready for months since we made this call months ago. I couldn’t expect her emotions to change overnight. That would be ridiculous of me. I learned so much about myself during this time in regards to how my heart wasn’t right on several issues and how it was hardened (definitely more on this in another post). But now it seemed I was okay with going back, and Marta was softening to the possibility of staying. Personally, I found it hard to pray during this week. I thought that if God really wanted us in China, why did He have an extremely tough ultimatum set up? Even faith the size of a mustard seed felt like too much to give at this point.

But it was on Wednesday, June 24th that I received a call at work saying our visas had been approved and would be given to us the next day! It was truly a miracle!! When I told Marta, she smiled really big and said, “God really wants us here.” We chuckled and embraced. I was still in shock because my mental preparations weren’t necessary anymore. God had made it abundantly clear that He wants us to stay in China. What was more convincing is that our school didn’t use any 关系 (guanxi, or relationships) or bribes to make this happen. It wasn’t a matter of knowing or paying people, it was a matter of faith and believing in Him who can make all things happen.

My wife told me later that she was praying the visas would work out. It warmed my heart to hear this. I, on the other hand, found it quite hard to pray because I was upset, doubtful, and questioning (all in a bad sense). Time and time again in my life, God has proven Himself faithful and present. Not only had my emotions been stirred these past few weeks, but the Holy Spirit was also trying to tell us something.

Stay.

http://tinyurl.com/osfjsby
http://tinyurl.com/osfjsby

My dad once told me, “Daniel, if God tells you to do something, you run with it. If you think He is checking you, turn around and run the other way.” It’s been nothing but peace knowing that we’re now running the right direction, His direction.

Moving On

Some will find this hard to believe while others won’t be surprised. My family and I will be returning to America. And not just for the summer. Starting late June/early July 2015, we will be back for a while. We found moving back a necessary decision for several reasons, some of which I don’t need to go into detail.

1) My work: I work at a private Chinese school, and I don’t mind it. I used to really enjoy it, but some things have changed. Some haven’t. If you’d like to know more about it, just ask. 🙂

2) Caleb: Our son will be going through some pivotal years being almost 6 months old now. Thus, numerous questions have come to mind regarding his future, education, friends, influences, environment, and the list goes on, though I know there will not be a “perfect” scenario for him.

On To Solids!

3) Our future: I will teach at another school. My wife will care for our firstborn (and maybe another in the next couple years), continue to guide our son and learn what we should do to best care for him, and finally support me. She’s such a blessing, and it’s been amazing to see how she has developed as a person in so many ways since becoming a mother.

We don’t know what else the future holds. What we do know is this next move, wherever it may be to, needs to last more than two years. We have sought out God’s wisdom in this matter. We originally thought God had called us to China long-term, but plans have changed for the time being.

What’s more important in this life is purpose. I believe that God created me and has made me for purposes, most unbeknownst to me. In the meanwhile, I am striving to discover the life He has intended for me and how I can be intentional with it for Him and with people.

Therefore, this will be the last blog written on the dscottinchina website. Thank you all for reading and discussing Chinese life and culture. If you’d like to read more of my professional/teaching blog, simply check out: mr5scott.blogspot.com

Thank you! 谢谢你!