The British television show I have been watching the past several days has had our camera man and an interpreter follow and listen two young lads through their day, at home and at school. They are unhappy with each other, and we see on the screen what they are saying as they speak. The slightly taller boy is the Hall Monitor, and the other boy says he speaks for the others when he asks the Hall Monitor to not pull them by their shirts, but speak to them.
The hall monitor is fending off these remarks very quickly with defensive remarks. Surely, they can all straighten their shirts, what is the problem, if he is not strict they do not pay attention.
And the smaller boy shouts that is not right and when he does that he is being a bully, and a dictator, and demanded the class vote for a hall monitor. This in front of the classroom with the teacher present. I almost fell over. The children all cheered, the teacher applauded, and the cameras followed the boys home, both whose fathers had been waiting after school for them.
The older lad told his father of this new situation. He had been appointed because he was the tallest. Now they were going to vote. But he was confident as he had a quicker mind and he felt he answered all his opponent’s comments very quickly, and left him finally speechless.
By the time for the morning vote, there was much chatter and excitement. They found a clear plastic box for each ballot. With giggles and laughter, each boy smiling and shaking the hands of the other children, it was like an election campaign as they may have glimpsed on television from the outside world.
And then, the winne! It was the smaller boy by a landslide. He is a quiet thoughtful popular lad, and he now will be the Hall Monitor. The teacher lectures that just because the new Hall Monitor is not big, he must be listened to. His short speech says that he will ask politely first, and not pull your shirt. The class explodes into cheers, and we see the taller boy walking up the aisle and hugging the smaller boy.
And then we cut to the news and see people in Tibet with gentle smiling eyes who meditate throwing rocks at soldiers with shields. And you wonder whether they are going to get more than that one predictable boy in that class to volunteer to join the army as his vocation.
And those voices in that classroom will not be stopped now. Any teacher or official who pulls them by the shirt will all be very clear on what they think of that. And we see in the home they are really happy and talkative and share their day experience around the dinner table together. Like us before television, as we dream about, and wax nostalgic about.
We can all learn from each other, as those young students somewhere in the middle of China know. More gentle Chinese antiques wisdom as from Confucious, less from Chairman Mao. Coming, to a growing power over that sea. The democracy Slow boat to China is in the harbor, and when the children get a hold of it, there is no putting that genie back in the bottle. It should be a wonderful vintage year coming up.