Tiananmen – Gate of Heavenly Peace

These will almost certainly be my last posts before leaving Beijing for my seven week home leave. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve renewed my commitment with MSF and will be back in Beijing at the end of May, to stay through the end of the year more or less. But first I get to visit family and friends for about seven weeks in the US and Europe. Today, as it happens, is exactly the end of my first year formally with MSF; though I
began my training with them on February 27 last year, I wasn’t assigned to a posting until March 20th. So today completes a cycle, and tomorrow begins a new year of my MSF history. In my mind, my “first mission” lasts until I fly home for vacation, and when I return at the end of May it’ll be a bit like starting a second mission – a shorter one in which, hopefully, to complete and fine-tune some of what I’ve not gotten to so far!

In any case, I’ve been remiss since the massive postings at the end of January. Much has happened since then: visits from various folks from Paris HQ, including two counterparts for me (my logistics and financial supervisors, respectively), two trips to our Nanning AIDS project, one to our Baoji Children’s Center, and two to Seoul. Ouch, no wonder I’ve not had much time to post on the blog! Plus, I’ve just been busy at work (budget revision prep, shepherding visitors around and explaining what we do and why and how, plus learning through them better how to do my own job, and so on).

In any case, I did use the Paris visitors as excuses to finally visit some of the big sites I’ve been leaving for the right time, even as my visitors have come and seen some of the most famous sites without me! So herewith are a few shots of the biggies: Tiananmen Square (or parts of it, looking toward Tiananmen Gate), and then quite a few of the Forbidden City itself, which of
course is behind Tiananmen, that being the most important entrance to the palace. Seems appropriate to post these for you just at the end of my first year here: I think of Connie and Anne, who I know will visit in May, and of Mom who I certainly hope follows through on her threat to join me in August. You’ll find this all even more beautiful and impressive in person, as Steve did.

I was planning to wax a bit poetic in this posting, about what an amazing year it’s been and how it hardly feels like a year, even though it’s more than a year that I’ve now been away from the US; about how I truly begin to feel like a citizen of the world, especially now that I have some real friends here in Beijing – and most not from the US, but from England, Australia and France, and how though I long to see my friends and family, I’m still not quite ready for the US again. It seems such an odd place, viewed from where I am now. A country that’s allowed its government, civil rights and public dialogue to be hijacked by greedy self-serving liars who’ve fed the public’s irrational fear of terrorism, further blinding its citizens to the reality that lack of opportunity, lack of health care, lack of medications for malaria and tuberculosis and AIDS kill far more people in the world – by geometric progessional factors – than terrorism…and to the
fact that true security will never rest on the backs of military power that exists more to feather the pockets of the rich than to serve true needs of the people in the US or anywhere else (let’s not even TALK about the needs of the people of Iraq about whom they spoke with such hypocritical fervor before their ill-conceived and disastrous adventure there). Mmm, guess I did
wax poetic after all, but I was thinking along more personal lines. Trying to say that this life works for me: I get to feel like I’m actually doing something, and while we’re all happy to say we didn’t vote for that blood-soaked cabal that’s got their hands tight around the national purse-strings in Washington, I get to add that I’m doing a wee bit to try to redress the balance, and I love sitting by the sidelines as the republicans come up with further lies to boggle the minds of a far-too-gullible and ready-to-be-scared American public. I get to say I not only didn’t vote for him, but really can’t see living in that insane country again as long as those lunatics are ruling the roost…

But there I go again. What I meant to say is: it’s been a tremendous year. Support from my friends and family in the US and around the world have made all the difference. Please keep me in your hearts, even as my years away lengthen, which they’re bound to do: I’ve found a world of wonder and mystery, and good work that needs doing. Right now that seems more important
than anything that I could do or accomplish in the US. I look forward to seeing as many of you as I can during April and May, and I wish you a successful and happy year of the dog. Do what you can, in your way, in your space, to bring a bit more light into the world and to balance the sorry state of fear and mistrust in the world. Thanks. 🙂

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