Sunday, December 30, 2012

E-mail from Beijing

I received an email yesterday from a good friend in Beijing. CCTV (the Chinese government's television network) was telling the Chinese people that 30,000 people per year died of gunshots in the United States.
He has good feelings about America and expected me to tell him those figures were inaccurate. Unfortunately, if you include suicides by gunshot, those are accurate figures.
At one point, before the opium wars of the 19th century, China not only was called the middle kingdom, Chinese believed they were in the center of the world.
Today Americans think they're at the center of the world. Since very few of us bother to learn a foreign language or understand geography, we seem to think we're not only normal but outstanding.
As I've said before, I'm descended from two Mayflower Pilgrims, and my great-grandfather fought for the North in the Civil War. I was brought up thinking America was the greatest country in the world.
However, to have 30,000 people per year die from guns is perceived as barbaric by other countries. It's truly something to be embarrassed about. But we don't seem to know that. Because we know little about other countries, and since few of us speak other languages we don't understand how we are perceived.
There was a tragedy in China this year where a deranged person tried to kill people with a knife, another when someone used a meat cleaver. Imagine if either one of them had owned a Bushmaster with a 100 bullet clip? We don't seem to know how bestial and abnormal that is.

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