FROM POLITICS TO THE MEANING OF LIFE

By William Markiewicz

On BBC's "HARDTalk," (November 25) Stephen Sackur interviewed the famous Chinese dissident Han Dongfang who, after years in prison was exiled to Hong Kong, prohibited from visiting his native province. Han Dongfang, looking surprisingly young after years of hardship, noted China's progress toward tolerance in interior matters, though much remains to be done. A strange mixture of boldness and prudence persists in relations between the authorities and the masses. For me, the high point of the conversation came at the end when the interviewer asked ....."After your awful personal experiences did you advise your children: be careful, don't build barricades..." His unexpected answer was: "On the contrary, build barricades as I did at your age and cannot do anymore." So, the Chinese hero and wise man teaches us to live life according to your potential first, and then to your goals. I once wrote about a young poet of Bulgarian origin, crippled, misanthrope, living in a basement, who sang: "How come my heart still sings?" Because his youth sang in him, his present, even if he had no hope for the future.

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The same channel reported the news that the UN forces' intervention in Congo didn't improve the situation of the civilian population, but, on the contrary, death rates, misery, gang rapes increased alarmingly. This invites analysis of the chemistry of intervention in foreign lands: 1) The foreign forces should avoid taking sides in conflicts between the local fighting forces. 2) The foreign forces' essential task must be to defend the civilian population from any side. For this reason the foreign forces must be located in the center of danger, either mingling with or nearby the civilian population. Their presence would avert bloodshed and would be largely a preventive rather than a combat force. Thus the mission will remain pacific and, most important, effective.

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