Thursday, September 26, 2019

Red Star Over China

There’s something very appealing about being in the presence of a community of people all bound together by shared beliefs. Their faith in god or precepts for living creates an enviable fabric and a shared language which overrules the spirit of individuation which informs let’s say every snowflake in the universe. As you may recall no two snowflakes are alike. Congregations which form around ideas (and obviously they can be created around politics as well as religion) act as a centripetal force countermanding the dark energy which is pulling things apart and creating such a distance between celestial bodies that the universe is actually becoming light challenged. But communities, communes, sects and even families which have strong ties resulting from shared values all come at a price. It’s nice to live in a small town since everyone knows you. It’s also not nice since everyone knows you and you’re not free to exercise your desire or right to be different and to say that you no longer derive pleasure from a prescribed way of life. Strong cohesive systems are like beautiful jewelry, but they’re easily threatened by outsiders and independent thought. Fundamentalist sects and authoritarian regimes never like outsiders and that’s why the internet is strictly limited in China, where Google is blocked by the Great Firewall. There's comfort in ritual, but once the assigned marriage or the pre-ordained place to which you’ve been relegated starts to be untenable then there's an inevitable fall from grace. The new found world of freedom may be exhilarating and then sometimes lonely, isolated and unsatisfying, but once you have seen there are other possibilities there’s seldom any turning back. Red Star Over China was the title of Edgar Snow’s prophetic work about the power of a unifying symbol and idea.

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