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October, 1, 2016

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Commentary > China Post > Daniel J. Bauer
You'd have thought that having been absent for the past nine weeks, finding a topic this week would have been a cinch for me. Not so, not so.
From the time it began a few years ago, this China Post column has been a fairly free-wheeling affair. The joy I've experienced writing it includes the freedom this newspaper offers me in choice of topics.
It gives me no special pleasure to return to the sad story of the knife incident on our MRT line some eleven days ago. So much has come and gone in the media in the aftermath of the event, however, that there still seems to be a little more to say about it.
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I haven't been to Tunghai University in Taichung for years, but happened to be there for a talk this past Wednesday. Just off the high speed train late that afternoon, I flagged a cab outside the station rather than wait for a bus in the wind and rain. Darkness had just fallen over the city.
When our local news begins to taste dry and I begin to worry about finding a topic to write about in this space, I usually say a prayer and hope for a new survey to appear. You'd be surprised how often my prayer is answered.
Several years ago a student in my "Masterpieces of World Literature" course contacted me in the middle of the semester to say she'd be missing our next class. Her father had just passed away after a long fight with cancer, she said. She'd be staying home to "take care of" her mother for a few days.
Behavior that is obviously evil may shock, titillate or even, in a weird, Edgar Allan Poe-like way, entertain us. Evil behavior may also bring anger or sadness. Last week's racially tinged controversy surrounding an American basketball team indeed stirs anger and sadness. The controversy also offers a valuable opportunity for social as well as self-reflection.
No one can predict the outcome of the hunger strike that former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chair Lin Yi-xiong began several days ago. It is hard to feel optimistic about what lies ahead. What we do know is that the personal narrative of this respected activist and anti-nuclear power protester is replete with suffering and pathos, not to mention drama. This is not a man who takes on small issues or who makes decisions off the seat of his pants.
Taiwan media tend to be keenly interested in surveys, statistics, and just about any type of tool that measures opinions. I may be the smallest cog in the wheel of our local print scene, but that doesn't matter. I too like to ask questions and count answers.
I don't believe I have ever written three times within four weeks in this space on the same topic. I hope that after today I can toss my political hat back into the closet and cover my balding pate with something more fun to wear. For today, however, there seems to be no way to avoid the question: what have we learned from these recent, difficult days?
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