A Traveler’s Shanghai – We are the people

A Traveler’s Shanghai – We are the people

Gary Snyder’s conclusion of “For The Children” is a complete prescription for humanity: “Stay together, learn the flowers, go light.” Nothing is left out. I see us, through the restaurant window, together and not, going here and there, going on. There are no other politics.

Rain slick streets of Shanghai lie worn but resolute under two millennia of bare feet, sandals, hooves and wheels. The people run to work, hurry to school, linger in produce shops; peddling bikes, racing scooters, driving beat-down cars and over-stuffed delivery trucks. We are packed onto buses, waving for taxis and queuing for the metro.

The sky is low, cold and grey. The people press on, compelled forward, through the ages. By what, I wonder?

Beijing and Washington and London do not know the people. Tokyo and Hong Kong do not see our secret strength. We have no weapons. Our balance sheets are insignificant. Our landholdings have been taken. But we hold what we can never lose, with open hands.

We have skin that is comfortable within just a narrow range, and warm red blood, pumping, pumping, pumping. Billions of fingerprints, all different. We make tears when we grieve and sweat when we labor. Our bodies ache at the end of each day. Those same bodies writhe in ecstasy when we love and wither and bend when beaten. Our voices ring like bells with laughter and transform the world with song. We stop time and dynasties when we shout NO! We paint images of our dreams and shape figures of our fears. We tell stories filled with deep wisdom and the knowledge of the passing of time. Each face carries a unique history like a topographical map.

But our true strength is everywhere and everything, near as the next breath, free for all and hidden to most. We share this strength with a smile for a child or a small kindness to a stranger, or in the care with which we grow our food. We know each other and our world when we take time to be still and look.

Often, we become distracted by news and drama, argument and conflict, choices between this one and that one. Which is better? Who is best? What do I prefer? Are we going up or down? Whom shall we despise?

But we share the same knowledge, this fear of pain and loss. And we know there is a place for us where our heart is our mind is our life.

Our power is love.

When we understand our power, we have no enemy. There are no obstacles. It is only now, and we are alone, together.

We are the people.

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