Category Archives: Life Issues

The Goose that Got Loose

chinese-gooseFor some people, they believe everything in life is preordained or predetermined. They consider that fate predestines all aspects of their lives.

I do not know whether the following event told by my mother can be considered to determine my existence on this earth or is the result of a simple mishap, luck, fate, chance, or ultimately the divine intervention of the Almighty God.

During the Japanese invasion of China during the Second World War, my mother’s family lived in a village near Canton city. The living conditions were different from today. We have to imagine how the homes in China were built and how they arranged the rooms in the early 1940’s. Most of the houses were built from bricks, clay or stone. There was no running water. Residents had to fetch water daily from a well, usually shared with their neighbours, The washroom was located separately outside the living quarters due to hygienic reasons.

The kitchen was considered an “unclean” area. There was no refrigerator in those days so people had to go to the market daily to buy fresh vegetables, meat, and other perishable items. As for poultry or fish, they needed to buy them fresh from the farmers or fishermen. They would bring the poultry or fish live to the kitchen to kill and clean them. Cooking usually relied on burning wood or coal. The kitchen was smoky, hot, messy, bloody, smelly, dark and damp. It was usually built apart from the main living room or dining room because the occupants did not want the smoke or smell in the living area.

It was not unusual for the family to keep live poultry or fish in their homes for days if they had space for a chicken pen or a water tank for fish.

In 1931, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Manchuria in northern China establishing a puppet state that they named Manchukuo[1]. On July 7, 1937, they crossed the Marco Polo Bridge and started their invasion of the Chinese interior[2]. They then captured Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, and other parts of China. The Japanese Imperial Navy also started a campaign of bombings to seize Canton (Guangzhou) in 1939-1938[3].

My mother and her siblings cannot tell me the exact date of the following incident but all of them can testify that it did happen. She was only a pre-teen at the time. My grandmother and my mother were in the market shopping for candles, incense, and other items for an ancestral worship ceremony. It was common practice for the Chinese families to light candles and incense daily for their deceased ancestors as an expression of filial piety. My grandfather was at home to prepare dinner and the ritual.

Offering live poultry is part of the ritual of ancestral worship. My grandfather was trying to slaughter the goose as an offering. The family would then have a good meal after the goose and other food items were offered to the gods.

My grandfather picked up the fat, long-necked goose which had been kept alive in a little water pond near the house. He went to the kitchen with the goose and prepared to butcher it. All his children were there to learn how he prepared the sacrifice except for my mother who was in the market with my grandmother. A pot of boiling hot water had been prepared for cleaning the goose. With his left hand, my grandfather grabbed the long neck of the goose while holding a sharp butcher knife in his right hand. All was ready for cutting the goose’s throat and hanging it upside down to drain the blood. The goose was in obvious discomfort being grabbed by his neck and decided to put up a good fight before it became the sacrificial bird. It cackled, kicked and flapped like its life depended on it, which it actually did! My grandfather lost his grip on the flailing bird’s neck and the goose wrenched free from his hand. Finally, the goose found itself being ceremoniously dropped on the kitchen floor and it started to run for its dear life. Five screaming children and a madman with a butcher knife looming over him would cause any goose to flee!

The goose flapped its wings and bolted across the courtyard into the living room. The whole family fled the kitchen to chase the goose. While my grandfather, still carrying the butcher knife, and all the children were trying to corner the goose running wild in the living room, they heard a not so familiar sound from the sky.

It was the droning of Japanese fighter planes. Soon after, the humming of propellers could be heard as the planes flew over the roof of their home. Next came the rat-a-tat-tat of airborne machine guns firing endless rounds of bullets. People screamed, ran, and took shelter wherever they could. The high-pitched whistle of bombs pierced the air as the Japanese Imperial Navy conducted a bombing raid on the village. A bomb was dropped onto my grandparents’ kitchen exploding on impact. The whole kitchen as well as their neighbour’s house were destroyed.

My uncle had stopped chasing the goose when he heard the noise of the planes. While he was looking out the window, the shrapnel from the explosion hit his back but he suffered only a minor scratch. The whole family survived the bombing raid simply because the goose drew them away from the kitchen.

Meanwhile, my grandmother and my mother were still in the market. The Japanese aircraft also dropped bombs there too. Debris and dust were everywhere. My mother was screaming and tried to find her mother. After a while, which seemed to her like forever, they located each other. Running home as quickly as they could they were anxious to discover what had happened.

To their surprise, the house was still standing. All the family survived with only a few minor injuries. The Japanese took control of Canton and southern China. My grandfather and his family became refugees and escaped to Macau.

No one knows what happened to the goose. From that day until my grandparents passed away, they never killed or ate goose again in honour of the goose that got loose.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_invasion_of_Manchuria

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marco_Polo_Bridge_Incident

[3] http://www.combinedfleet.com/Canton_t.htm

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In memory of a dear friend

A year ago, I was asked to speak at the celebration of life in memory of my dear friend, colleague and brother in Christ, Ian Demspey. With tears in my eyes, I said these words.

I knew Ian when we were attending the Technical University of Nova Scotia many years ago. He was an active student from day one. He volunteered as the student representative of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers). Ian always carried his signature smile and enthusiasm wherever he went.

We graduated the same year. He went to work for MT&T and I pursued my other interests. It was fifteen years before we met again when Ian joined our teaching faculty at NSCC. I was so glad to see that Ian and I were in the same department! As all his students can testify, he was one terrific teacher. He put his creative mind into everything he taught. He could make electrical principles relevant to everyday life by bringing in LEDS and telephone wires. Ohm’s law came to life as Ian entered the classroom wearing ribbons of resistors and acted like he was Gandolf in the Lord of the Rings, waving a calculator as his staff and said, “Thou…shalt…not…pass!”. (Only electrical people can understand this joke.) He had a boxing match with students that you can find on Facebook. When writing on the whiteboard, Ian would continue to write on the painted wall once he ran out of room… He received the Distinguished Teaching Service Award by the Rotary Club of Halifax in 2009. His students called him the “academic entertainer”. Ian’s classes were just plain fun! If I could only have 10% of his wit…

Ian also cared about his students. After the news broke about Ian’s passing, many students expressed their sadness and said Ian was the best teacher they ever had. This is evidenced by the number of Ian’s former students who are here today celebrating his life.

Ian was also a firm believer in his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Many years ago, he organized a small prayer group at a church adjacent to the IT campus to pray for the faculty, staff and students with whom we rub shoulders everyday. His love and concern for the spiritual well being of those he met daily was very evident in his prayers.

Ian and I car-pooled together when we moved to our new workplace at the Waterfront campus. That was a difficult year for me in my teaching career. While I was driving, Ian would pray out loud for me in the back seat all the way from Dartmouth to Halifax.

Most of you know Ian was fun to work with. He was friendly, humorous, and had a quick wit. We can all remember he would dress up as Santa and give out candy canes on campus during Christmas time. You can never forget his “Ho, Ho Ho”.

Ian also had a serious side. He was sincere about what he believed, especially with his Lord Jesus.

I remember Ian was very upset about an incident. We had an all staff meeting with one of the directors of the College. During the meeting, that director swore frequently and used the name of Jesus in vain. After the meeting, Ian went down to the office of the director and expressed his displeasure. He told the director that he was a Christian and that he did not appreciate how the director used the name of his Lord and Saviour in vain. At that time, I was not quite sure that Ian had passed his probation period but Linda assured me that he had. That was our Ian. He had no fear of confronting what he considered wrong or inappropriate. He was not just a person of faith; he lived out his faith in such a way that it had an impact on everyone. His life influenced hundreds if not thousands of people directly and indirectly.

Ian, you lived a full and abundant life! Now, you can keep on running, biking, and jogging… on the streets of gold in Heaven! Also, it is time to take a rest. For me, I would say to my dear friend, Ian, good night for now, sleep tight. One day, we will all wake up and say to one another “good morning”.


The Mississippi of the North

After listening to the Saturday evening new on CTV news interview on the Cornwallis statue, http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=870833&binId=1.1145463&playlistPageNum=1, The Mi’kmaq historian Daniel Paul described Nova Scotia as the Mississippi of the North. This description reflects how I feel after living her for 38 years.

Many locals see anything different or foreign is a threat. There are few noticeable advancement in opportunity According to the Labour Market Statistics in 2014, visible minorities unemployment rate is consistently higher that the overall general unemployment rate.[1] Although the median employment income of immigrants with a postsecondary education is higher than non-immigrants, fewer immigrants worked full-time, full years compared to non-immigrants. For the recent immigrants (immigrated, 2001 – 2009), only 53% worked full time, full year. The median income was lower than that of the non-immigrants.[2]

In my experience, despite well-intention diversity talks, most workplaces, including government and major employers are not that welcoming. Talks about “tolerance” are just not enough. No government or institution can force one to accept another culture into their midst. True acceptance has to come from personal experience and humble encounter.

Speaking of government, despite of political parties, Nova Scotia is also chasing its own people out of the province. CBC has a good monologue on this issue. http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2688188417/

A province with its small and declining population base, rule by a few elite families and political class, the future is not bright.

[1] P. 16, https://careers.novascotia.ca/sites/all/files/LMI%20Stats%202014_FINAL.pdf

[2] P. 17, Ibid.


Elizabeth May and Khadr

I posted my response of Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party and MP, act during the press gallery dinner. I wrote on my Facebook post, “If Harper or any Conservatives MP acted like May, the media and all other parties would ask for their resignation. For May, she was a hero for praising someone who killed a medic. What a double standard!!!”

I received responses from my friends about how wrong and bad the Canadian and American governments did to Khadr. Khadr is such a nice kid, etc…

Here is my response.

“We can argue that Khadr was only 15 when he murdered and harmed others. It is so comforting to have our names listed on the compassionate side of the ledger. Others will call those who supported Khadr as kind, thoughtful and compassionate people. He may be born into a family who is controlling. He may be tortured. His rights may be violated. He just maybe… There are some facts even his lawyers did not deny. He made bombs. He threw the bomb. He intended to kill people. Yes, he was fifteen. No, he NEVER showed remorse after all these years. The medic he murdered also had a mother and a family. Those who are blinded by his bomb are still blind. He is still glad that he did it. Those who supported Khadr’s killing have no problem with the killings of Americans. I am not an American. I am just wondering, why do they have such hateful feeling towards the Americans? The people Khadr murdered and harmed are also creations of God too.”

I am open to opinions that I may be wrong. I DO NOT think those who are in the “compassionate” camp will ever consider they may be fooled by a murder.


Thoughts on Viola Desmond Day

LOng_Road_to_Justice_Horizontal

Today is the first provincial holiday in Nova Scotia. This year, Nova Scotia celebrates the life of Viola Desmond[1]. She was a black Nova Scotian who was charged, held overnight in jail, not advised of her rights, convicted, and fined because she set in the main floor of a movie theatre in 1946. The law of segregation was in full force in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Blacks were only allowed to sit in the balcony in Nova Scotia in those days. Her case happened nine years before Rosa Parks[2] refused to give up her seat on the bus in the United States.

According to the law, Viola Desmond committed an offence to the established law of the day.

The theatre acted according to the law to remove her from the main floor.

The police had no problem to remove her from her seat because she was only give a ticket to the black only segregated balcony but she took a seat at the main floor.

The court acted according to the law of the day and found her guilty and fined $20.00 her for the tax (one cent) she did not pay because of the price difference between the main floor ticket and the balcony ticket.

All the procedures, removal, arrest, charge and conviction were according to the law. What was the problem?

The simple answer – the law was wrong!

I read about all the comments of the Chinese communist party, Hong Kong government and establishment claiming that they act according to law.

They rule according to law.

They arrest protestors, use pepper spray, drag protestor to dark alley and beat them up… all according to law.

Protestors were assaulted by police were charged. Seven policemen who assaulted them were hailed as heroes.[3] They were not charged.

I have no training in law. I have only a few observations.

“Law” or “Rule of law”

  • Should not be a tool for the government to maintain their governing authority.
  • Should not be used to shut down dissenting opinions.
  • Should not be used to focus on benefiting the ruling class or the establishment.
  • Should not be dictated to the court or police by the political party or the governing authority. The government cannot tell the court who and how to judge a case.

“Law” or “Rule of Law”

  • Should be fair to all segments of the society
  • Should be independent of the governing authority and the police.
  • Should be transparent in their procedures and decisions.

I can list more.

The “mighty nation” is just too strong. It can impose their will on other nations. No one dares to be the dissenting voice.

[1] http://www.blackhistorycanada.ca/profiles.php?themeid=20&id=13

[2] http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_parks_1.html

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/oct/15/hong-kong-police-beat-up-protester-street-corner-video


God’s Not Dead

I watch “God’s Not Dead” on DVD yesterday. Usually, I do not write movie review. This is an exception.

A movie for evangelism?

If this is a movie to show the redemptive love of Christ, it failed miserably. Bringing in TV celebrity from Duck Dynasty to talk about their faith looked like an odd marketing endorsement than sincere personal testimony of his own faith. The reporter always appeared angry, rude, and had her own syndical agenda towards anyone who called himself Christian. Do journalists really behave like that in an unprofessional manner?

Stereotyping universities are hostile

Do professors in a university really act like that in the classroom? I highly doubt any creditable university professor will force any students to sign a note to declare, “God is Dead” in the beginning of a course. Moreover, I doubt any professor will yell and manhandle a student when he disagrees with his argument. If I do that with my students, I would be dismissed in no time.

Stereotyping Chinese student

I do not know why the director had to stereotype the Chinese student was a nerd and always wore a tie to class. I have not seen any Chinese students wear a tie to class during my teaching career unless they are giving a presentation or going to an interview. To make matter worse, the Chinese student spoke Cantonese (a dialect of the south) when he was talking to his father, but the father spoke Mandarin (the Beijing dialect of the north). These are two totally different dialects from two vastly different geographical regions. Do the director not expect any Chinese viewers to question the inconsistency? Can they pay more attention to detail?

Stereotyping Muslim families

Why do the producer and the director have to demonize the Muslim family? They obvious do not agree with the Muslim faith. They do not need to demonize the Muslim father was an angry, paranoid, violent tyrant who would beat up his daughter when she chose to be a Christian.

Stereotyping all non-believers

The director portrayed all the professors in the university as arrogant, self-absorbed academics love drinking red wine. They have no problem to demean young females when she let the red wine spoil in the trunk of the car. I highly doubt that many professors, especially female professors, treat a female student that way.

I can write more about why I do not like the movie, but I better draw a conclusion. I doubt God’s Not Dead will bring anyone closer to Christ. It is not even good entertainment.


Thoughts on Democracy

After the incident in Ottawa yesterday the three weeks of protest in Hong Kong, here are my thoughts on democracy.

  • There is a real cost to democracy. People lost their lives it so that others will gain from it.
  • People live under democracy system take it for granted. Most people live under authoritarian or totalitarian governments yearn for it.
  • The ruling class of the established authoritarian government usually labelled democracy as “foreign influence”, “against our cultural values”, “not compatible with our religious beliefs”, “lead to chaos”…
  • The ruling class gains benefit from a totalitarian government. The underclass is enslaved by the ruling class (sometimes without knowing it).
  • Totalitarian governments want their citizens to be uninformed. They will try to censor any news outlet. Democratic systems allow opposite views, even though it may damage its own existence.
  • Democratic systems try to limit the use of force. Force is the mean to an end for totalitarian governments.
  • Violence is always bad, just look at any jihadists who kill or the police who used brutal force to suppress the protesters. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28
  • The path leads to democracy is messy. The path the totalitarian government tread will lead to destruction.
  • Jesus or Paul might never preach on democracy, but they definitely spoke on freedom. (Just read Galatians)
  • Democracy is not the panacea, but it is much better than the alternative.

The message of Christ is subversive in his era. Jesus was anti-establishment since the very beginning of his ministry. The Christian faith started out as an opposition to the Jewish religious establishment (grace vs. law) and the Roman establishment (Caesar is Lord vs. Jesus is Lord). No communist or totalitarian government is ever friendly to the Christian faith. Faith other than worshiping the supreme leader or party is regarded as treason in an authoritarian government. If the people, especially Christians do not speak up against injustice, corruption, and abuse of power while they still have a chance, they are in fact siding with the evil system which Jesus, Paul and Peter were fighting against. Being a disciple of Christ carries a cost. Some Christians are so busy to “do God’s work” inside church walls. They do not see a bigger picture of bringing justice to the society. Prosperity and stability become their God. Pleasing the earthly power to gain earthly status should not be a Christian attitude.