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2010/08/15 / Horace

Mourning Day

The devastating landslide in Gansu Province, killing over 1,100 people, really hit every Chinese’s heart very hard. Any piece of news update will be spread all over the country, enlighting pepole’s hope for new miracles, or adding to the gloominess inside our hearts.

A week after the scourge, the government set Aug. 15th the national mourning day banning all kinds of public entertainment, which causes a huge debate across the web. Some people say, such an action is a violation of the authority against individual rights, while others see such a national mourning day as a symbol of conscience, national unity and respect for life.

I really do not know which side to stand, and I really do not want to stand on either side. I really do not see the point in arguing over such an issue. Will the victory of any side accelerate the rescue efforts? Will the victory of any side revive any of the lost lives? Will the victory of any side stop the on-going rain? No. There are always something more important to do.

China has now set three national mourning days so far, one for Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008, one for Yushu Earthquake in 2010, and the other for this massive landslide. Such disasters, though triggered by natural power, still have something to do with human faults.

Take Wenchuan Earthquake as an example. First of all, why were there such a heavy loss of lives among students while a school with a mature evacuation plan secure every one successfully? Secondly, despite high efficiency and commitment of PLA, which won great applause home and abroad, was our quake relief system flawless? Lianhe Zaobao, an authoritive and well-known newspaper in the Chinese-speaking world, pointed out several tactical problems within our military command systems. Finally, what to do with those people who survived the quake? Are we sure that every cent of public donations have flowed to those in need? Are we sure that there won’t be any phycological problems within those survivors’ hearts? Are we sure that there won’t be such a heavy loss again when another earthquake takes place? And most importantly, have we learnt all we could from the quake, the rescue operation and the reconstruction process?

Behind every nature disaster is some factors related with human beings. And if we could really remove those human factors before it was too late, those disasters would not be that tragic. The first thing to do on our mourning day, perhaps, is not to mourn, (let alone drown oneself in such a useless debate), but to reflect. Why is there such a tragedy? How to make us less vulnerable when faced with such events? What have we done wrong and what have we done right?

Personally, I think we should change the mourn day from a day to quarell and to cry to a day to reflect. Reflection of the past, the present and the future, is the best respect for life and individual rights because such an activity will save lives sometime in the future. Mourning, crying, praying is not the only thing we can do, and we, including the government, are responsible to do more than that.


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