That quotation is an old Chinese proverb sometimes known as the Chinese curse. It certainly doesn’t sound offensive, but it is mainly used when one wishes that another person’s life is surrounded by worries and obstacles.
The Chinese government may very well be muttering those words to the protesters who took to the streets in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other Chinese cities over the weekend. Fueled by political instability and anti-government sentiment, the Chinese people are voicing their opinions loudly, perhaps motivated by the people demanding those same changes in the Middle East.
What began in Tunisia in December, brought on by poor living conditions and the lack of political freedom, has been dubbed the Jasmine Revolution by the media. It moved onto Egypt, successfully ousting President Mubarak, then spread to Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, and several other Arab nations before making an impact in China.
Sadly, too many protesters have been injured or killed, paying the ultimate price for their cause. But those brave activists, who knew the risks, are speaking against their oppressive governments, and are making a huge difference for the future of their nations.
Here in the United States, the people are taking to the streets in safer, more peaceful protests against Wisconsin’s proposed legislation to reduce union bargaining power. Their cause is now gaining support from unions in other states, such as Minnesota and Michigan.
Whether you agree or disagree with the protestors, this is democracy in action, something many people in the United States may take for granted. It is what our forefathers fought for in the Revolutionary War when they envisioned a free America. These union battles seem small compared to those fighting overseas for basic human needs, such freedom, food and shelter, but they are important to those voicing their opinions.
Unions were once the backbone of this country. They were necessary to keep things fair and they helped build the middle class by assuring workers decent wages. Today, because of these unions, we have employment laws and regulations in place to protect employees in all industries, whether they are union or non-union, not to mention lawyers keeping a watchful eye on the system.
So, while I may not see the great need for unions in our current society, I am inspired by anyone who fights for what they believe in.
That’s what democracy is all about.