Back to some years ago, I wrote down in the preface of my doctoral dissertation,
"In order for a mathematician to qualify
being an intellectual (in Chinese shih), i.e. a
member of the vast and complex array of professionals entrusted
with the preservation and perpetuation of certain specific
knowledge or ideas and privileged to be the most indoctrinated
members of society, one has to possess an ultimate concern toward
one's nation, society, and the entire humanity. This concern is
for everything pertinent to the public benefits and must transcend
self as well as coterie interests..."
It's not that intellectuals are more intelligent (or elite), so that they own the privilege to
be responsible to the society. As a matter of fact - just because intellectuals
are privileged to be the most indoctrinated individuals, or more blatantly the
most intelligent ones, they are especially obligated - compared with ordinary people - to take
In contemporary Chinese ethos, cynical thought has been widely embraced, particularly among young
people (therewith it's really not much better as for older generations).
The tradition is largely lost. People doubt the existence of
real moral values; practicalism prevails. One the other hand, in theology, we know that
whenever one converts to
a religion, s/he has to believe in it first.
While I grew up in a fairly big city, my grandfather was a peasant. He passed away before I was 2, but
I remember him. I am not oblivious, actually just to the contrary. Thus I consider myself
a descendent of Chinese peasants (and I am it indeed). In principle this fact is also true
for most Chinese: only
very few people have ancestors never down to the earth. As an extremely retentive person,
I have a grassroots self-perception profoundly embedded in my blood.
I spent most of my 20's overseas.
However, whatever wonderful things I encountered in the U.S., I never thought I deserve them.
I like them, but I would rather take my old life. If it's really some super stuff, then I think
my poor countrymen should really have it - only then shall I be comfortable in possessing it.
When I ride on an extra jammed bus in Beijing, I feel happy. Sometimes I can not get on one,
then I'll wait for the next. Sometimes my shirt is made dirty on the bus, but I am never upset.
I enjoy watching the faces of my countrymen, dirty or not, even during the times that they are
unhappy - I always wish that they will be happy soon, though.
Right before the X-mas of 2002, a friend and I, and families, went to visit
a private lamp festival in the state of Delaware.
This kind of activities is popular in many parts of the States. During the holiday season,
rich people arrange lamps and decorations of all different styles and themes outside in their gardens.
It's a nice thing to share their joyfulness with the neighborhood. Usually the celebration is open
to the public, and is free certainly. The one that we saw in Delaware is the best. That's like
a big park, with hundreds of people walking in every night to discover the beautiful scenes.
Not every family
in the U.S. is able to do this, but many could. When we were appreciating those beautiful
lamps: crystal Santa, reindeer team, St. Mary, and so on, both my friend and I were thinking of
the same thing:
How we wish our countrymen will all enjoy this kind of delighted life!
This thought was actually formulated by our old saint 1250 years earlier:
There are many other places in the world still under development, for instance a considerable
proportion of the land of Africa.
abroad for almost a decade and getting across a variety of distinct ethnic groups, I eventually
developed an extensive love toward all of our poor humankind beings.
Nonetheless, at least for the present stage,
I am still limited so as to devote the deepest affection onto my own countrymen.
This indicates that intellectuals are
rated too, and I need to improve myself - in many aspects.
Man's thought. However I encourage women to be no less lordly; at least to me,
aspiring ladies are the most admirable. I wish our younger generation
will be as strong and as responsible as well. When I was a teenager, I also thought that mathematics
was virtually my world. That could be sufficient for a mathematician, but not yet for an
Prof. Yan Buke's concerns
Back to home