Taiwan Church News
August 16~22, 2010
Editorial: Show some backbone, no more kneeling!
Translated by Lydia Ma
During the latter part of the Qing Dynasty, the imperial government sent a bunch of youths to the US for further training. It so happened that whenever there were edicts from the emperor, these youths would have to assemble at a nearby dock and prostrate themselves to hear and receive the edict.
Self-conscious of the curious glances cast in their direction by American onlookers; these students wrote to Qing officials about the awkwardness of their situation and explained the inappropriateness of bowing down in such a public place as a dock.
An official eventually replied and told these students that they didn’t need to prostrate themselves at a dock any longer, but instructed them to assemble instead at a nearby Chinese embassy and continue the tradition of “kneeling and receiving” royal decrees inside the embassy.
Kneeling is still prevalent in Chinese society today. The following story on the topic of kneeling was circulated in the internet a while ago: A young man who’d applied for work at a company was unfortunately turned down by the company. Upon receiving this news, the young man attempted suicide but was saved in the nick of time
The same company later sent the young man a notice to inform him that he’d been hired after all. Upon receiving this news, the young man’s whole family went to the company and knelt before the executive who’d hired the fellow to thank this official for showing kindness and mercy.
For human rights advocates and highly educated folks in China who disagree with the Communist regime, this is a shameful story. But we have to wonder when and how this practice that cowers before tyranny made its way across the Taiwan Strait. We shake our heads in disbelief that this practice seems to gain momentum especially when human rights collide with abuse of government power.
When Yunlin County Magistrate Su Chih-fen knelt outside the Executive Yuan to protest against the government’s attitude vis-à-vis fire and pollution spewing out from Formosa Plastics Group’s refinery inMailiao, which dealt a serious blow to farms and fisheries in the area, she secured some financial restitution for her efforts. But her actions and the government’s attitude also had an aura of paternalism and condescension.
August is sometimes the peak of typhoon season in Taiwan. In the past few years, strong winds and rains have taught us to be humble before Mother Nature instead of kneeling or depending on government authority or help.
But August is also replete with examples of heroes who achieved great things through grit and backbone, without kneeling or depending on incompetent officials. They include Aborigines’ fight against being called “savages”, Hakka militia commander Wu Tang-hsing’s resistance against Japanese forces, Chiang Wei-shui’s resistance against colonialism, the 823 Kinmen Bombing, etc.
On August 16, 1977, the PCT issued its “Declaration on Human Rights”. We know that many pastors who’d helped pen this declaration at the time had also prepared themselves for the worst because they’d written their wills soon afterward in case they were apprehended and killed.
An excerpt from this declaration states: “As we face the possibility of an invasion by Communist China, we hold firmly to our faith and to the principles underlying the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. We insist that the future of Taiwan shall be determined by the 17 million people who live there. We appeal to the countries concerned – especially to the people and the government of the United States of America – and to Christian churches throughout the world to take effective steps to support our cause.
In order to achieve our goal of independence and freedom for the people of Taiwan in this critical international situation, we urge our government to face reality and to take effective measures wherebyTaiwan may become a new and independent country.
We beseech God that Taiwan and all the rest of the world may become a place where “Mercy and truth will meet together; righteousness and peace will embrace. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.” (Psalm 85:10, 11).”
As we re-read this statement 33 years after it was penned, we strongly urge Christians in Taiwan to rise up and be like those warriors who accompanied Gideon into battle – they lapped the water with their hands and didn’t kneel down to take a drink. We urge Taiwanese Christians to be ready so that we can reclaim truth, justice, peace and love for our country together.
Let us follow Jesus’ example when he was tempted in the desert to bow and worship Satan. Jesus replied in no uncertain terms, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”