Monday, October 12, 2009

The Foolish Old Man & One Smart Girl

For GabNet’s 20th Anniversary Celebration in San Diego, California

The parable of the Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains was made famous by the late Mao Zedong. It goes like this:

An old man living in Northern China with his two sons found his way to the south blocked by two mountains. Irritated, he decided to dig up the two massive peaks and set to work with his two sons and some hoes. A neighbor asked what they were doing and upon receiving the reply, said that that was silly; the old man would die even before a dent was made on either mountain. Whereupon the foolish old man said that when he died, his sons would carry on; and then his sons’ sons, and his sons’ sons’ sons… and so on to infinity until the mountains were leveled. Mao used this to as a metaphor for the effort to remove imperialism and feudalism from China.

But that was only Part I of the parable. Here’s Part II:

As the foolish old man and his sons spent 10 hours each day digging up the mountains, their wives and daughters had to look for food to cook; to wash clothes soiled by the digging, to make beds so the men could recover energy for the next day’s dig and to generally keep homes in order and operating. Then there was the matter of the sons’ sons and sons’ sons’ sons, so the women also bore children, found other women to bear children, raised them, cared for them, taught them how to hoe and dig up the mountains. This went on for centuries.

One day a little Chinese girl looked at the path being made through the digging up of the mountains, looked at the women and said to herself: “This road will be of no use to me. I will have bound feet, a baby strapped to my back and pots and pans hanging from my left and right arms.” She went into the untouched forests and found a river that flowed southward. She returned to her home and told her mother. “If we built a boat,” she said, “we would get there sooner.” And thus the women, along with some men, built a raft and sailed southward.

The first 20 years of GabNet’s existence correspond to Part I of this parable, when we enabled other movements to endure, survive and achieve victories big and small. No one can beggar that record.

The next 20 years of our existence, whether under this name or another, will now correspond to Part II of the parable, when we enable our own movement to come to fruition, survive and endure, and achieve victories big and small.

Filipinos may leave the Philippines for economic reasons but their objective is not simply to get a job but also to build a life, to find a home, a community and a nation.

Twenty years are but the wink of an eye in the vast historical terrain of womankind’s struggle for emancipation and liberation. The next 20 years will be another wink of an eye. But if we find the southward-flowing river, we can likely make the way easier and achieve the dreamt-of society sooner, with no backward sliding.

Let us begin. -- #


Anonymous said...

Count me in!

Sheridan said...

Absolutely brilliant, as always! I am tempted to change gender and join you in raft-building! But why are you-all still carrying the name of an organization that considers your 20 years of work as nothing?

Anonymous said...

This is sacrilege, rewriting Mao's parable!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: you speak as if mao was a god; times change and we must continue to allow our theories/studies to evolve with the conditions we organize in. i like both the original and this version of the parable.

Anonymous said...

It was rather interesting for me to read the article. Thank you for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more soon.

Anonymous said...

It was rather interesting for me to read that article. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop posting such themes. I like to read stories like this. By the way add some pics :)

Anonymous said...

Rather nice place you've got here. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. BTW, why don't you change design :).