Bear our broth­ers and sis­ters in mind

Shanghai Daily - - OPINION - Greg Cusack

IT is an honor to re­spond to such a well-writ­ten let­ter, with which I do not re­ally dis­agree.

Ms Zhang writes, for in­stance, that my “af­fir­ma­tion of a Mary­knoll mis­sion­ary’s state­ment about pop­u­la­tion con­trol ap­pears to be a lit­tle de­bat­able” as she be­lieves that our abil­ity to pro­cre­ate should not be left to its own de­vices.

I to­tally agree with her. I did not cite those 30-year-old com­ments be­cause I found them to be an ad­e­quate re­sponse to the is­sue of pop­u­la­tion con­trol for, as Ms Zhang notes, they were not.

Rather, I thought the Mary­knoll mis­sion­ary’s point about the im­por­tance of the start­ing point by which we ad­dressed the prob­lems fac­ing all of us to be ex­tremely pro­found.

He had ar­gued that most of what passes for “thought­ful” di­a­logue about im­por­tant global is­sues — surg­ing pop­u­la­tions, in­creased de­mand for pre­cious wa­ter and food, as well as com­pe­ti­tion for other re­sources — be­gan from the po­si­tion of scarcity, which is a fear­ful, self­fo­cused stance, rather than from an ori­en­ta­tion to­wards abun­dance for all, which is oth­eror­i­ented and which con­nects our own de­sires for the “good life” with those of our broth­ers and sis­ters.

My ar­ti­cle to which she was re­spond­ing was it­self prompted by the in­ter­change be­tween Mr Wang Yong of Shang­hai Daily and Mr Ben-Ami re­gard­ing the lat­ter’s ar­gu­ment in his book, “Fer­raris for All.”

Mr Wang Yong had chal­lenged Mr BenAmi’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what a “good life” re­ally meant — was it the pos­ses­sion and con­sump­tion of ever more “things,” or at­tain­ing a stance of bal­ance and har­mony be­tween my own true needs and those of others.

I am pleased to note that Ms Zhang strongly agrees, as she beau­ti­fully ex­pressed it in her let­ter:

“Like the an­cient teach­ing of Con­fu­cius, a good life is about strik­ing a bal­ance — striv­ing for a bet­ter life for one­self while tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the needs and wants of others for a sus­tain­able col­lec­tive fu­ture.

“This bal­ance is to be achieved both hor­i­zon­tally (be­tween one­self and others) as well as ver­ti­cally (be­tween gen­er­a­tions).”

She con­cludes her let­ter, “There­fore, only if we tackle all ma­jor sources to our woes can we ex­pect to find some ways to al­le­vi­ate them.” Agreed! In ap­plaud­ing her sen­ti­ments, I also note sadly that my own coun­try lags far be­hind China’s lead­er­ship in press­ing for strong mea­sures to ad­dress the threat of global warm­ing while en­sur­ing that greater so­cial and eco­nomic jus­tice is at­tained by those who would oth­er­wise be left be­hind.

Mr Wang Yong and Ms Lena Zhang are two good ex­am­ples of how moral lead­er­ship and a re­spect for sound, an­cient prin­ci­ples con­tin­ues to flour­ish in China. I sit at their feet in re­spect­ful at­ten­tion.



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