Obiter Dictum - Signalling Class
Note: This is an editorial to 'Signalling Class', another article of mine. For sake of conveinence, this article is uploaded first.
It was rubbish – all of it. I mean, it wasn’t any part of my true intention to write ‘Signalling Class’. It was made-up for writing sample. It’s bad, it’s insincerity at best, deceiving at worst. The saddest thing a writer can do to himself is to mete out some nonsense without putting the whole heart, undivided, unreserved, and without judgment.
#My Arrogance and Illusion
Here’s my new tenet: literature is for describing the reality, not for editorialising. Large chuck of my literature is some bourgeoise, condescending imagination of how my colleagues live. It’s not true, any part of that. It’s my imagination and that’s about what it is. How can we attempt to eulogise or criticise someone’s life without describing it? It was sanctimonious. The particular colleague I was referring to, spending around 12,000 CNY in a month. Can I say she’s deprived? I would reckon less people would be inclined to concur – it’s an equivalent to around 1,740 USD per month, and unless you live in Monaco or Switzerland, it’s a good sum of money. I do not respect people of their option. I repeatedly mention the effect of education, native family, blah blah blah. But it comes to a point when we are talking all about these things, and staring at reality with great confound: do they not have a choice?
I wouldn’t ignore the effect of one’s upbringing might put onto people. It’s most daunting. But the virtue of humankind lies in their choice – the free will. We are a feeble race, we have high fat percentage, hence we won’t even win a cat if it’s slightly bigger than now it is. But sometimes, and at that time only, we are more than mere flesh. Our decisions sometimes are altruism, contrary to the assumption of orthodox economists, we are not only ‘rational’, thinking for ourselves. We are more than our logic, more than what it nominates for us. And I, perhaps, condescendingly and arrogantly, overlooked our options. Indeed, an impoverished person is less prone to be educated, but there’s instance where people, against impossible adversaries, walk out from their difficulty and become a person exerting great amount of positive influence.
I, having no right to impose my will on others, shall take the same undertaking. I am living in impossible situations now, a living victim of the capitalist system. But I am more than a victim, I am human, that means now I am in control of what I do control, I can make changes, however neglectable they are. I stayed in poverty, but I did not deprave myself in it. Indeed, one might argue I had the privilege of being educated, but one must recognise my life was confronted with various challenges, yet I have not failed. Thank God almighty, I have not failed.
#Silence and Noise
I have mentioned that I should observe silence just like people who died in silence; this is utterly wrong. Becoming a victim doesn’t absolve my sin for being an accomplice to this capitalism system. On the contrary, rendering myself incapacitated does not help any suffering people.
Pondering about the adverse effect done by your privilege itself is a privilege. There is but one choice, to make amend: avail my privilege to assist the misfortunate.
I had a time of severe depression; it was of politics. I thought by suffering in silence and endurance, I might wash myself out of my privilege. It did not. My membership and ambassadorship in IHG Rewards were constant reminders that I once lived a comfortable and nefarious life, upon the suffering of many. I have relinquished my lifestyle, but it wasn’t out of my choice, it was a plan of God. I was not a person of character to forfeit my own privilege, but it was God who helped me to break through the glass of illusion to live truly. For many a time I contemplated suicide, to ‘cease upon the midnight with no pain’. It was a luxury for me, and it would be morally reprehensible should I took the approach. I cannot die, not before that I have paid back my lavish life with a gruelling, struggling, and painful life. I once read some Israeli soldiers in South Lebanon was attacked by a local with his IED, and when they attempted to hunt the local, the person quitted hiding himself, and yelling with the last ditch of his life, ‘Allahu Akbar, purrrrr’, since his lungs are shot by the IDF, each time he yelled the praise, he would vomit chunks of blood. He shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ till the very end of his life.
I will be shouting my own praise until I die. I will not suffer in silence. I will suffer, but I will be loud. I must be loud, to mourn for the dead, and to remember the living. I cannot live in disillusion, and I cannot live in amnesia. I shall suffer, and suffer loud. I shall become a hindrance to all, and a pain to those who love me. I shall become a living misery.
#Bridging, not Delegating
Who am I to ‘voice out for the voiceless’? How arrogant and facile that was, to speak what I want to say, and in their name? It’s a misguided approach. I have no power to speak on their behest, I can only represent myself.
I should be bridging the voiceless, I should usher them into the amphitheatre, so that they could have their own voice. Regardless how broken, disorganised, and crude that voice might be, it’s their voice, it’s not mine. It’s my duty to keep my voice down when they do have a voice. To speak out for voiceless is presumptuous, how I dare to represent people whom I can’t call them my friends? I was never a friend with any local underclass people – I listen to classical music, watching operas and plays. I drink Talisker and had a decent series of books when I was younger. I am a person of high culture, and I secretly despise their ways of lives – TikTok and online gambling, from what I have seen.
If they were to say – okay, I am fine with my 4,500 CNY salary, as long as you don’t blame me for my poor work ethics and allow me to play solitaire in work, and I do not want any of your culture, dancing and taking drugs in some disco is enough, then who am I to oppose? If that is their voice, who am I to say they’re exploited and indoctrinated by the societal mainstream? If that’s what they want, how can I say it’s not what they truly want? That I know better?
#To Take Upon the Cross
Yes, I know better.
It’s incoherent for a person to hold two contradictory ideas, but I am willing to hold both. That people have control from a duplicative, repetitive, and meaningless life. They can steer away from it, is my belief. However, one might be influenced by their upbringing, hence less capable of correcting their own course, it’s my tenet too. All my underclass acquaintances are living a depraved lifestyle, full of trash information and transient stimulants. I do not concur with the lifestyle, and even though I respect their choice, I do not condone it.
One of my acquaintances went to Southwest China to become a volunteering teacher there, and she complained to me that locals, of a traditionally downtrodden and enslaved minority nation, were paranoid to the outside world, that the version of Christianity they believe might be a cult. I asked her if she considered what identity she had, before going there. She said she did not, and that’s why she’s ruminating about her identity and the meaning of her tour there.
I said, ‘you were a coloniser, a preacher and an invader’, for teaching them an atheism, ‘modern’ knowledge would be depriving them from their original lifestyle, social connection and power structure.
‘But they can go to the city, to be labourers too’, she said. And I told her that’s the exact thing their elders trying to avoid – going to megacities and living a materialism life, forsaking their faith and national identity. I told her that her teaching is intertwined with assimilation policies, the equivalent to colonisation, and to those boarding schools in Canada. She said she is thinking, and unable to form an answer. But moments later, she broke the silence and said, ‘Then what about those missionaries, weren’t they doing the exact thing you’ve condemned me for?’
I affirmed. Indeed, missionaries came and promoted their ideologies, yet saved them from extreme poverty, Han-colonialism, and a perpetual civil war.
It’s my turn to contemplate. If poor people in China are trapped (so to speak) in perpetual tribal mentality, short-sightedness, unwillingness to education, then when should we stop mourning and reflecting socio-economic factors in play and start to do something? Should I just stand in silence and portray them as saints whilst they’re actively destroying any solidarity left and feeding themselves with TikTok? No, that’s not what I would do.
So, despite everything I have said, I gave her a compliment. ‘Regardless of what you have done there, regardless of your intention and their perception, it’s a good thing – you’ve left a positive impact there. Even as coloniser, invader or whatever, you’ve exerted a positive influence. You’ve poured your heart out, and you’ve sowed a seed, a seed of love. And that’s going to grow’.
So, maybe I am a condescending, arrogant hypocrite, but I do have an obligation to hold some unconformable conversation, I do have a mission civilisatrice – so there will be no strike-breakers, there will be no TikTok and consumerism to occupy the lives of my least fortunate brethren.
Humans are tender specie, even sad specie, one might argue. But there’s one thing human does: they break the pattern, stride to the impossible, against all odds, even against their own beliefs: they’re willing to take upon the sin – not the cross – to do what they think is ultimately good for others. And that, my dear audience, is my humanity. Now I pledge my loyalty to the suffering, let them be my king, and – ‘at sea be my body water-soaked; on land be it with grass overgrown: Let me die by the side of my Sovereign! Never will I look back’.