Taiwan Church News
November 16 – 22, 2015
Let Us Reclaim The Value Of Critical Thinking
On November 12, former President Lee Teng-huei delivered a speech at National Cheng Kong University. But a question, raised by a Chinese student during the time of Q&A, became the focus of Taiwan’s mainstream media.
Many Taiwan newspapers, published next day with glaring titles, read “A Chinese Student Challenged That Taiwan President Could Be Elected By Lot, But Lee Teng-huei Responds A Smart Answer”. Many coverage reported that the Chinese student satirized: “Taiwan is so small, how can a leader rule this country if not being authoritarian? In this way, the troubles of election could be spared and [Taiwan President] could be elected by lot!”; once the Chinese student finished his comment, the audience gave him a boo immediately; however, in his ending of speech, former President Lee Teng-huei replied this ignorant snobbery with “Taiwan government exists to serve the people!”, making this Chinese student dumb and the audience hilarious with clapping.
Following the spread of this news on the internet, this story began to emerge another unexpected version. Some students, who had also attended that assembly, started to restore what had really happened at that moment through posting the detailed transcripts and the video clips. The restored truth is that the Chinese student’s comment is against the critique delivered by Lee about the central control of Taiwan government as “too much authoritarian!”. In the transcripts of that dialogue, there was no sense of satire or snobbery felt in the comment of that Chinese student. Even the bulling boo from the audience went against the Chinese student was fabricated!
Retrieving that very Q&A in former President Lee’s speech, both sides did not go astray from the thread of their dialogue. Some participated student even remarked, “Though the content of what the Chinese student said is beyond our understanding, he has the right to speak out his political belief is beyond doubt”. And this attitude is exactly what an ideal education demands: any question is welcomed if there is doubt. Maybe there are kinds of difference among plural parties in the pursuit of the truth, yet people could gradually clarify their thoughts in the process of discussion and debate. And this is the most precious thing of education!
Though Taiwan has been already claimed to be a society possessed with open mind and plural values, however, it’s a pity that there is still an undercurrent moving toward more and more conservative on various social issues, for example, whether the death penalty should be abolished or not and etc. In these highly sensitive social issues, there used to be no opportunity to discuss or debate in order to forge a consensus. Instead of using reason or rationality, people would rather make their decisions based on the opinions from the mass media or the milieu. Such immature cultures, lacking the spirit of critical thinking, could easily ends up with a reactionary and exclusive mind set and betrays the values of pluralism and tolerance committed by any democratic society.
Perhaps the event, raising question to former President Lee Teng-huei by a Chinese student, is a good beginning for our new generations of college students learning how to make critical thinking and judgement. It means that, even in the situation when people with different opinions are encountered, once the truth of fact is found twisted or fabricated, we would still stand up defending other people’s right to speak and not joining the mainstream propaganda to bully the minority or the marginalized. Against kinds of highly sensitive social issues, is our Taiwan church willing to cultivate such capability of critical thinking and visionary inclusiveness?