I want to tell you a story.
Let me be clear though, I don’t know a lot about all of China. I can regail you with some mundane history and a few personal experiences to make you think otherwise. But in honesty, my Chinese is pathetic and my understanding of the society only slightly deeper than most foreigners.
What I can tell you though is that a few steps away from my apartment building, there was a shanty town. A slum. Low rent housing. Whatever you want to call it.
Then one day a man came and spray-painted this character on each and every home: æ‹†
In Chinese, æ‹† is pronounced “chai” and means to tear down or demolish.
There was this psychological, trippy movie I was intrigued with back in my late teens that had a tag-line that has stayed with me over the years, “The Death of Destruction is the Joy of Rebirth.” Living in Beijing, I’ve come to fully appreciate and marvel at the truth of this statement.
This photo shows whats left of the decimated block of homes that once existed in the heart of Beijing. It was destroyed to make the city more beautiful in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Two days after the area was bulldozed, the entire block was covered in green grass.
Ultimately, it takes a special kind of society that destroys neighborhoods and homes and leaves the residents to pick up after themselves.
But it also takes a special kind of person that grins while picking up the pieces.