《多伦多太阳报》记者Thane Burnett, 2008-06-17 编译: 安婆婆编辑部
看着解放军的一字纵队，一位33岁的Xiong Yi Rong说，“他们救了我们，救了我们的镇子。只有共产社会才能有这样的解放军。”
A symbol of China’s resilience
By THANE BURNETT
Tue, June 17, 2008
DUJIANGYAN, China — The symbols here are timeless.
Since before Jesus made his mark on earth, water has rushed below the covered South Bridge along one of the world’s first man-made irrigation channels. Canadian earthquake volunteer Sherry Yang starts to cry as she stares at the ornate ancient foot-bridge that still stands after the May 12 earthquake destroyed so much else in Sichuan province.
It was only 27 years ago, a whisper in the bridge’s lifetime, that Sherry’s father — for many years a powerful and respected man in the region — hand painted the name of the bridge high above the heads of the masses below.
A retired Toronto hospital research technician originally from Sichuan, Sherry is back in China to help organize relief efforts from Canada. But on this day, she returned to the old city on a more personal journey.
“I was so worried,” she explains as she finally sees the undamaged bridge — and her father’s still clear handiwork, which sits among carved wooden children and protective dragons. “In my heart, I never knew if it would (still) be here.”
The great bridge spans water split from the fast moving Min River; helping to drain it into thousands of kilometres of farmland. The sophisticated irrigation system which carries the currents along was constructed before the invention of gun powder, so the channel was carved by using fire and water to crack the great bedrock.
The bridge that rests above this water is an important symbol and does far more than simply get people across the fast moving waterway.
Sherry’s father, who died last year, understood this better than most. Here in China, almost all symbols carry a strong message to the people. Especially during difficult times.
“That the bridge has been around for so long, and still remains,” Sherry explains. “It’s like China… that it will also survive and go on.”
POWER OF THE PEOPLE
Her father believed strongly in the value and power of ordinary people coming together to pull off something lasting and extraordinary.
The complicated waterway itself — a marvel of 256 BC engineering — took tens of thousands of workers to complete. But it pales when compared to the efforts under way now — again by soldiers and ordinary people — to pull the region back after the 8.0-magnitude quake.
Remember the sense of national adoration given to American fire fighters and police after 9/11 — now keep multiplying that civic pride 1.3 billion times.
A green Chinese military uniform is as close to Superman tights as any mortal needs to wear in this disaster zone. Yesterday, as a line of soldiers marched drill-like through the hollow remains of the town of Xin Xing — shouldering shovels and pick axes rather than rifles — locals gathered to look at them in wonder.
“They saved us … saved our town,” said 33-year-old Xiong Yi Rong, as the men marched by in single file. “Only the communist system could have done that.”
Some disasters, including the flooding of New Orleans, have a way of pulling a country apart. In China, the earthquake has, in every practical way, brought these people together — arguably more than even the upcoming Olympics have.
The entire province is dotted with motivational slogans, banners and billboards, pointing out that the country beats with one heart during times like these. We all are a family of one, they remind. The dominant symbol has become hands reaching out to clasp other hands.
Musical tributes — from singing Lawrence Welk-type military men to spiky-haired pop artist — compete with favourite soap operas on television. Flags take up more local airspace than birds. The entire province is adorned in red fluttering fabric.
Reconstruction volunteers and workers are given free passage through highway tolls and even their own fast lane to sidestep city traffic.
And if you’re not wearing an ‘I (Heart) China’ T-shirt here, it’s likely at home in the wash.
Symbolically and practically, the Chinese have discovered strong purpose in the aftermath of the earthquake.
For the people here — even a Canadian volunteer who remembers the lessons of her father — it’s helping them make it to the other side all right.