Too Busy To Think

First off, I really enjoyed the play, especially the way they would whistle and freeze the story. It gave the audience a chance to think, and even cast members would ask thought provoking questions to foster audience thought. The monologue drew a perfect picture, and really kept me captivated the whole time. 

As far as truth, I again found myself buying into everything this actor was saying, just as I did with Daisy, because they really do master in the art of storytelling. But, I found that although some of the content was fabricated, that if you find a way to strip the play down to what it really is, I think there is much to learn.  

The narrator stated some powerful statements:

(all following statements are paraphrased)

“China keeps its people too busy to think about things like democracy”

It is important to realize that China is industrializing at a rapid pace, and I think that us post industrialized nations sometimes struggle with putting our head around what it is like there, and how it fundamentally is different. The narrator described Beijing as a “honeybee nest” where everyone is sucked into this industrialization vacuum. There is a mass of population that is instantly sucked into these factories because it is an opportunity to come move to the city. The narrator describes outside of working hours, that these chinese workers were as much individuals as any american, but that their government keeps them too busy to think.  I just think that this shows me the power of the veil that has been thrown over this specific factory worker population. They are brought into the factory work force as a way to a better life, but in reality they are just used as machines. No matter what fabrications may have been told in the story, after talking with my friend Bo Yao, who lives in china but is a student here, I believe that this mass factory working population is being exploited. 

Bo is lucky enough to live in Beijing comfortably, attend school abroad, and he described himself as privileged. But, upon delving deeper into what China looks like from the inside, he did depict a nation that was very economically diverse. He described that there are the affluent families/communities which live in or around cities, but that beyond is another population of chinese people who either live at these factories, or small homes nearby. There was a clear disconnect between these classes. 

There were two things that we talked more in depth on:



One thing that is interesting about china is that they are industrializing with a massive population. On one hand, because of this mix, it allows china to produce at staggering paces: everyone knows that. But, coming with this industrialization, means that more and more people will be put into these factories, while the minority will reap the benefits. Bo is lucky to live in Beijing, and has access to the newest technologies and innovations, but the mass factory population will sadly never see the fruits of their labor.

I really enjoyed the play and my conversation with Bo, because what better way to find the truth than to get trusted intel from someone who actually is from China. 





2 comments on “Too Busy To Think

  1. That is a stark quote. It reminds me of the famous “opiate of the masses” from Marx. He said religion is that opiate, but the idea is similar- there is a cultural force which dumbs the collective senses, the corpus of the population, to the pain.

    What makes us too busy? Is TV our opiate? Or, more generally the content industries? Is American Idol a different kind of idol all together?

    The economic diversity in China is real and significant. I still feel I don’t have a good idea of the political system. Where is it headed? Will rising living standards, wealthy capitalists, and a growing middle class lead ot a more open, democratic system? We tend to assume it does.

    I feel like “friends of China,” such as academics or people invested in knowing it, are reluctant to say it is oppressive or authoritarian politically. As if saying so would offend the polite hosts, or offend the sleeping bear. But, as a matter of classifying, of naming what is there, I want to know.

    • “Busy” means two very different things for Chinese vs. Americans. I would say that America is too busy because of our competition towards more materials and better “leisure”. I mean the word leisure as in all of the activities or possessions that fill our lives that do not have to do with work. Where as in China, most people are too busy trying to simply survive and provide for their family.

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