Saturday, November 11, 2006

Personal Freedom

Yesterday I was reading a thread on a forum that I'm fond of, in which the ensuing argument focused on who has more personal freedom - citizens of the USA, or citizens of China. I was flabbergasted to read that several people on the thread really believed that the Chinese people have more personal freedom than we Americans do.

I didn't comment on the thread, but was astounded at what I believe to be a serious misconception, and I wondered what must contribute to that perception. Is it political correctness? Is it "relative truth"? Is it a lack of appreciation for the great deal of freedom we enjoy? Is it anti-American sentiment?

What is it?

I have no answers, but I do think it should be apparent that if there was a great deal of personal freedom there, then we'd be able to read our blogs when we travel to China to receive our babies. Right? But we're not able to. The Internet is censored in China.

Religion is controlled in China.

Families are limited to one child in China, with a few exceptions.

And now, in an attempt to control a rabies outbreak, many dogs (50,000) have been slaughtered. Beijing has limited the number of dogs residents can keep to just one. The dog must be registered (I assume that's like being licensed here), and if they are not, authorities have been known to bludgeon pet dogs to death in front of their owners. I wanted to link to the AP article that I read this morning about this, but I haven't been successful in doing so. I'm no animial rights nut, but I just think that this is an example of the limits of personal freedom in China, and unreasonable regulations enacted by the government in China. If I fail to license my dog here and keep her vaccinations up-to-date, then I'm fined. In China, my dog would be murdered while I stood helplessly by.

I'm not China bashing. I think Chinese culture has many wonderful aspects to it. But I think it's important to understand the vast differences in our societies and to appreciate what we have here and to not fool ourselves into thinking that life around the globe is as good as it is here.

We are very blessed.


  • At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Jonni said…

    Joannah, Thanks for the reminder on how good we have it. It is a shame that so many Americans take these freedoms for granted.

  • At 1:43 PM, Blogger eggrolls and chopsticks said…

    My dearest friend is Chinese, lives here, accompanied us on our trip, and is now on sabbatical in China.She cannot read our blog has had mail that I have sent to her opened but also values the peaceful life that she is currently living there. I think it is also important to realise that the people of China do not know life any other way. It is so hard for us to read about certain aspects of it, it appears and indeed is,so cruel and crude. The photos that she bought home last time after 6 months of staying there showed a wonderful side of life there that I could never ever have imagined.The happiness and contentment on the faces of the children was something that we just dont see. It is very hard to put into words and these were kiddies in very poor remote regions. They had NOTHING.
    But I have to say I agree with you whole heartedly, I think we have it made here and I am not even an American.

  • At 2:21 PM, Blogger Joannah said…

    Dawn, thanks for sharing this! What a wonderful friendship for your family to have.

    I, in no way want this to be misconstrued as being critical of China and the way of life there. It is what it is, and I'm sure most Chinese citizens live happy lives.

    My main point is that we have so much freedom here. It isn't perfect by any means, but I think it's about as good as you can get this side of heaven. I think many of us take this for granted, and that's a shame.

  • At 3:17 PM, Blogger Donna said…

    I love China - I've been there four times, including once to get my beloved daughter. But it's crazy to say the Chinese have the same - or more - freedom that we do. It's one of the most totalitarian societies on earth. That doesn't mean we don't respect the Chinese people and their culture...we can and do. Hopefully someday these incredible people will be able to experience the freedom we often take for granted!

  • At 5:06 PM, Blogger Elise said…

    The part about the pets just breaks my heart. I didn't know about the blogging being blocked. How do people post their photos?

  • At 5:39 AM, Blogger Stacy said…

    Very well said.

  • At 7:28 AM, Blogger eggrolls and chopsticks said…

    We have so much more freedom here. It is hard to believe that it could be questioned.
    We have democracy, they do not. Many people speak freely about things that they have no knowledge, perhaps that is what was happening on that forum!

    And yes, we are lucky to have Goo Goo in our lives and thankfully she will be home in just a few short days and Lily is about ready to explode with excitement.

  • At 3:41 PM, Blogger Janet said…

    Yes indeed we are blessed! Thanks for saying so!

  • At 8:03 PM, Blogger AprilMay said…

    Thank you for reminding me to count my blessings! :)


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