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August, 25, 2016

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Commentary > China Post > Daniel J. Bauer
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?
1 Comment
Explaining the humor in a masterpiece of western satire to a room full of Taiwan students is approximately as difficult as explaining the frustration some of us feel when we consider the images of women we may find in advertising here in Asia.
Two points arise when I consider foreign reaction to the latest twists and turns in democracy, Taiwan style. One is closely linked to media coverage. The other touches on various meanings of "the personal" in our lives.
Fridays now bring me into contact with two groups of students, one meeting in the morning and the other at night. I've been curious all week how these students feel about their peers "occupying" the legislature. About 48 hours ago, I invited them to respond anonymously to an anecdotal survey for this column. The morning class (studying European literature) included students from their sophomore to senior years. The evening group (American Literature Part II) was composed almost totally of seniors.
An article this past week in The China Post about an early graduation ceremony at Taipei Japanese School coincided with thoughts I've had for some time about what students might consider doing in the last weeks of their college careers.
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