Good morning ladies and gentlemen, today we will celebrate the life of an individual who achieved the impossible through perseverance and mental strength. Also, I will convince you why the film Mao’s Last Dancer MUST be screened at this year’s film festival. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” This insightful quote ultimately embodies the notion of working hard for your freedom instead of waiting for it. So, precisely, one will only have the strength to gain freedom by persevering throughout life’s obstacles and hardships. Li Cunxin did not expect freedom to arrive at his doorstep; he was acutely aware that freedom and success are born from hard work; he suffered through blood, sweat and tears throughout his whole journey to earn his freedom.
Li’s ruthless childhood experiences taught him to persevere through difficult times. Throughout his life, he had tolerated some enjoyable events like playing in the snow with his brothers, yet some draining events like discovering that his Niang fainted whilst on her trip to the dam. Li’s Niang was his number one supporter. She continually gave him tough love and encouraged him to take this “chance to escape from this cruel world. (and) Go, and do something special with your (his) life!” (p.96). The world of poverty was tough to escape but Li’s mental strength assisted him into doing so. If it weren’t for his Niang, he would not be where he is today. However, Li
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The autobiography, Mao’s Last Dancer written by Li Cunxin, is effective in raising awareness of the injustice the Chinese people experienced during Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution and later communist policies in China. When Li’s parents got married in 1946, they were not living in poverty. However, when the Japanese invaded China during WWII and forced all the civilians into communes, Mao then kept these communes and the Li family lost their wealth—they faced injustice and marginalisation. The Chinese population were marginalised by Mao’s use of communist principles and propaganda. They were forced into believing Mao’s views—that the West (Capitalist countries) were filthy and bad, while China was good. Li’s visit to America was an eye-opener.
The eighteenth-century German philosopher Johann Wolfgang van Goethe is quoted as saying: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”. If Goethe, who died in the early 1800s, could have looked forward a hundred and twenty years to Mao Zedong’s Communist China, he would have doubtless seen his words ring painfully true. Mao’s dynastic rule survived on elimination of any thought deemed contrary to his own. Those who dared to speak out were dealt with swiftly and severely. Yet some people did not believe they were free, and were willing to do risk everything to subvert Mao’s manufactured culture. “The Mao Button”, “Black Walls”, and “Dogshit Food” are short stories that criticize the
In the novel “A long walk to water” by Linda Sue Park, Salva, a young man that lived in South Sudan throughout his childhood to his young-adult years, had faced many difficult challenges the young age of eleven. Salva had to flee from home because of Sudan’s civil war. He soon experienced a horrifying and dreadful life, his family gone, no resources in his group, he watched people die, walked for months, and lead twelve hundred boys to a refugee camp in Kenya. Salva survived this terrible life with the help of three factors, perseverance, luck, and relationships with others. Without any of these factors, Salva might not have been able to survive or possibly become the leader he is today.
Bob Fu conveys clearly the inexorable control that Communist leaders in China have over their people. For example, after Fu and his friends participated in the Tiananmen Square protests, Fu was coerced, day in day out, to write a confession of his purported misdeeds against China and her people as a “counterrevolutionary” (79-82, 85, 87).
“As one of the Red Guards in the middle school, I was given power through Mao to torture and humiliate our teachers, headmaster or anyone we didn’t like. I didn’t know it was wrong. I thought I was doing the right thing to continue the revolution, to fight and win the class struggle”- Zhao, Lin Qing. As a teenager Zhao was a Red Guard in Guangzhou during the Cultural Revolution. When asked what her impression was a member of the Red Guards, Zhao answered with two words: “naïve and senseless”. She refused answering anything more about her experience. She said, “The memories are still too painful to recall.”
The method applied by Zedong focused on uniting China under one belief in order to implement communist ideas in the country, widely changing the country’s structure. (Doc 7). At his defense trial, Cuban revolution leader Fidel Castro appealed to those struggling in his country. He spoke to those who hoped for a brighter future and who have been betrayed by their country. By addressing their battle, Castro urged them to fight for a better Cuba. His relentless and undying commitment ultimately granted Castro his wish for a revolution. (Doc 8). An additional document consisting of a diary entry from a Chinese citizen during the communist revolution would create a clearer vision as to how convincing Mao Zedong truly was.
When Jan Wong first arrived in China, she was filled with the complete belief that China’s totalitarianism way of government was the best way of governing, and that no other way would do. While natives smiled behind false expressions, she failed to realize the true extent of the miserable lives under the Maoist regime until she herself experienced the injustices faced by the Chinese citizens. In Red China Blues, author Jan Wong writes of her experiences during her life in China and after, and how her whole journey led to the realization of the harsh reality that Maoism really was. As Wong learned more and more about the truth behind the totalitarian government, her own experiences helped her to transform
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” This famous quote is from a speech given by one of America’s most influential abolitionist speakers, Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery, this great American leader led a life many of us would find impossible to bear. After gaining his freedom from slavery, Douglass shared his stories through impressive speeches and vivid autobiographies, which helped America move forward as a country liberated from racial inequality. Although Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave allows readers to understand what life was like for slaves in antebellum America, the most important and relevant lesson to take away from this narrative today is the importance of perseverance. Douglass’s courage to resist and learn paired with his determination to keep his faith and ultimately find himself, is something to which people from every culture and time period can relate.
I was always hopeful for Li, and felt lucky that my son, out of all other promising students in Qindao, had been chosen to dance for Chairman Mao. Although the luck of the Cunxin family had changed, it was difficult to adjust to life in the commune without Li’s presence as a guiding light, or a helping hand. Having 7 sons while living our
In George Orwell’s novel, 1984, O’Brien drills the idea into Winston’s mind that reality is only truly present in the human mind. The Chinese government tries to establish this within the media, the internet, and the people of China. William Lutz’s essay, “No One Died in Tiananmen Square” reflects Orwell’s 1984 and the thoughts of the Party, such as re-education, and reality control.
Lao Tzu once said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”, which means that no matter how difficult the task, determination requires a necessary prelude for accomplishment (Tzu). People generally perceive accomplishments as the most important aspect of an individual’s value, but ultimately, only oneself can determine their worth and beliefs. The fading of one’s ideals is bound to occur eventually, but the only legacies considered inerasable are deeds. Great men and women are rarely remembered for their beliefs or thoughts; instead they are judged depending on their actions and the resulting consequences.
In Jan Wong’s entrancing expose Red China Blues, she details her plight to take part in a system of “harmony and perfection” (12) that was Maoist China. Wong discloses her trials and tribulations over a course of three decades that sees her searching for her roots and her transformation of ideologies that span over two distinctive forms of Communist governments. This tale is so enticing in due part to the events the author encountered that radically changed her very existence and more importantly, her personal quest for self-discovery.
Li Cunxin from the book ‘Mao's last dancer' thought that he couldn't change his destiny and that he belonged as a labourer in the fields. His destiny had changed from his experiences and the people around him. His family and Teacher Xiao were pushing him to do well and to enjoy ballet. The encouragement of his parents worked because he no longer hated ballet, instead he was in love with it. He was practicing a lot and became very good at dancing and was then chosen to go to the US. It was there he learned what little freedom he had in China. He was determined to go to the United States for the second time, although initially rejected to return, in the end, he was able to go but didn't want to come back after meeting Elizabeth. When he first
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” declared by an influential leader Martin Luther King Jr. As a soldier againsts unfairness, King strongly states that people should fight for freedom. Driven by human nature, humans are always chasing freedom. In “A Century Later,” the Pakistan-born British poet Imtiaz Dharker uses the poetic devices of symbolism, diction, and allusion to explore how perseverance drives freedom.