Bear our brothers and sisters in mind
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.