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    Posted March 21, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Protesters occupy Taiwan legislature

    A Nation Quietly in Crisis

    Over the past several years, I've almost come to take this lovely, peaceful island for granted where the belief still exists that hard work will bear fruit, and where everyday, strangers reaffirm my humanity instead of making me feel like just another face in yet another metropolis.

    Tonight, I heard people speak about how with the cost of rising housing, someone making an average salary of roughly 1,300 USD/month would need 200 years to be able to afford his/her own house, as salaries have not risen within the past several decades to match inflation and rising prices stymied by booming markets.

    I heard high school students take the stage and speak about how they are worried that they will not be able to afford public university tuition, nor find a job post-graduation to pay back their debts, especially once Taiwan opens its doors to China's unending surge, largely against the wishes of its citizens, at the agenda of one man who is trying to save himself a place in history, which may strip Taiwan of its identity and its narrowing opportunities.

    How can you take away a nation's freedom - freedom of speech, of access to information through the internet, and of trade opportunities when freedom is all you have known since the internet's birth, hard won after many rounds of suppression and martial law at the hands of Chinese Nationalists and the Japanese.

    How can you compare a people who protest peacefully, separating their recyclables and bringing individual trash bags so that their protests don't leave a blemish on governmental property with their hulking neighbors who raise people who relieve themselves in the streets?

    It would truly be a tragedy if this bastion of Confucian piety and simple joys was to be overrun by a neighboring giant who consumes everything in its wake.

    All you have to do is speak to someone from Hong Kong to know what it's like. Actually, all you have to do is visit any of Taiwan's high profile tourist sights anytime of the year, flooded by mainland tourists, to know what it would be like.

    Every activity would become a pushing struggle where "me first" would become too salient to remember how people once gave up seats to the elderly and toddlers at every turn on public transport, and how strangers rushed to help each other when pulling out a parked bike from a mountain of bicycles created a cascade of floored vehicles.

    If you've ever been to China, it's not difficult to imagine how public signs that remind passengers to speak quietly in public places so as not to disturb others would be ignored by dominating voices, and waitresses would be beckoned by bellowing calls of "SERVER!!" instead of discrete waves or nods of the head.

    And when we lose our ability to retain our dignity while surviving, the world will have lost a country where people journey to from all over the world to remake themselves, because there is room to be as good, as silly, and as supportive as one could ever wish.
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