China-focused Satire, Social Commentary, Comics and More

Dear People Making a Shortcut Through the Bamboo


Dear People Making a Shortcut Through the Bamboo,

You just had to cut that corner, didn’t you? Maybe you don’t realize it, but I’m almost certain you do, but the wide, paved road you have just abandoned switchbacks in about 30 feet. That’s a little over 9 meters. In other words, had you stayed on the designated path, you would have ended up in the same place you are headed, but probably in less time and without a broken ankle.

But we understand – it is not in your nature to stick to the trail. You are those people walking diagonally across busy intersections, ignoring the shrill commands of the futile traffic cops. You are those people honking impatiently to part the pedestrians on the sidewalk so you can dodge a jam. Corners, lanes, lines, rules, flow? Feng Shui is dead. Communism too. This is modern China, the land of breakneck progress and competition at the lowest level. How can you expect to get anywhere if you sit and wait for the other 1.3 billion trying to get by? The only rule you follow is how to get from point A to point B in the cheapest way possible. And, as a 12-year-old student informed me the other day, Time Equals Money, so by shortcutting you are only being frugal.

It isn’t just you. This behavior trickles down from the highest ranks – there’s no reason to do things right when you can do them quickly (and cheaply). So much for the common good. We’ve heard the stories: shoddy school construction, cardboard meat, tainted milk. Those things are just the unfortunate, publicized results of widespread practices. It isn’t corruption so much as an irrepressible inclination to ignore directions and sense for the sake knowing you found a faster way.

Of course, your are on the famous Purple Mountain of Nanjing, one of China’s premier nature scenery spots. So maybe you aren’t just cutting corners. Maybe you are actually seeking a heightened natural experience, roughin’ it through the wilderness, seeking peace and tranquility and answers. After all, you opted to walk instead of riding the chairlift to the top and back (it isn’t worth the price). But that explanation seems to contradict the ice cream wrapper you just handed to the wind, or, for you women, the high heels you are digging into that hillside like crampons.

But you don’t need any nature experience to find truth. Here it is: Every path leads to concrete. So why diverge?

Sincerely,

This Ridiculous World

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