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Chinese Calligraphy and Fasting

September 6, 2008
There is a chinese calligraphy writing on my office wall that has been hanging there since my last meeting with Albert Sim.  Albert Sim disappeared since my trip to Singapore and he helped me get 3 chinese calligraphy writing.  The writing goes:

春有百花  秋有月
夏有凉风  冬有雪

若无闲事  挂心顿
便是人间    好时节

Normally, it’s written as 挂心头, not 挂心顿 but I think the Zen master who wrote this has his reasons.

The long summer trip to Singapore can be considered as a  闲事挂心头, but my wife and I enjoyed the trip as much as most short, one-month trips to Asia.  But when I come back, it left me a lot to think about.

Amongst all the personal problems, I actually gave thoughts to worldly problems like global warming, world hunger and world peace.  I started reading about monks lilke Preah Maha Ghosananda, I gave meditative thoughts about Muslim Ramadan (fasting from fajr (dawn) to maghrib (sunset)). And I seriously think if I were not as financially stable (due to recent inflation) to donate to charity as in the past, then simple acts like doing what the poorest of American do is an act of compassion and give me a taste of what these poor Americans have to go through.  

Simple things like not using my Toyota Corolla for  a day.  In Singapore, I can easily do this.  I don’t have easy access to a car.  And as long as I do not flap a cab, I’m living a life of public transportation (SBS, MRT).  In a small city like Erie, it’s a lot worse.  A fifteen-minute ride from my house to school, converts to a one and a half hour ride.  Not only that, it’s more expensive to ride the EMTA to school and back then using the car despite how high the prices of gasoline is now.  Not forgeting the fact that I have to transfer buses and walk at least a total of 2 miles to do that.  So yes, not only do poor Americans have less, they actually pay more for everything from furniture, to transportation to houses for the same thing a middle income American does/has.  Not fair, is it not?  A poor American citizen also lives in a horrible, unsafe neighbourhood.  That’s exactly what they are suffering from.  Most other people in the world won’t believe you but America treats its pooerest citizens worse than how a lot of countries do.  In the poor neighbourhood, the infant motality rate is lower than Malaysia!  They want a car as much as most average Americans.  But they often ended up paying more for a lousy car than a typical person.  Not just a little more.  It’s the capitalism at work here.  There’s nothing, not even the most compassionate President can solve this problem to our satisfaction.  Carter and Truman tried it but the change is almost not visible.

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