The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, March 22, 2008

China and Tibet: a conspiracy of silence.

What do mainland Chinese know about the unrest and subsequent brutal crackdown in Tibet?

Not a lot, in many cases.

In Singapore, there are many PRC (Peoples' Republic of China) students here. I will explain more about their situation in another post. I would, however, like to note something which I have become aware of. These students are in the habit of calling home, to their parents in China, on a regular basis. All of them have had a strange experience, recently. In their calls home, they have tried to discuss the Tibetan situation - which they have seen in the Singaporean and international media, here in Singapore - with their parents. Do you know what they discovered?

None of their Chinese mainland parents knew about it.

It seems that the media in China has been far from dedicated to carrying this story, for in a random sampling of mainland Chinese, performed by the PRC students here in Singapore, none of them were aware of the unrest and crackdown, in Tibet.

This reminded me of another time when I had taught PRC students. There was a boy in my class who was of very certain views about the wonders of China. It turned out that his father was an important man in the hierarchy of the Communist Party of China. This was many years ago and somehow the subject of Tiananmen Square came up. This boy barked out: "No-one died at Tiananmen Square".

"Who told you that?" I asked him, rather surprised.

"My father."

I felt sad for him. Even his own father lied to him, to protect the image of the motherland from the Truth.

I pointed out that I had seen the terrible events for myself on CNN and that the whole world had watched what happened at Tiananmen Square - the whole world except China.

He was silent. He didn't know how to defend his father's lying tongue.

The situation with regards to Tibet is very similar. Part of the reason that China is so successful at repression, is because its people simply do not know what is happening. They do not know the darkness at the centre of their own society. The PRC students here, in Singapore, are all somewhat shocked to learn of the events in Tibet. Yet, there is something locked up inside them: they still can't allow themselves to see the truth of their own country. They take a view which would not disturb the Communist Party's line. They take the view that China is "right" to crackdown in Tibet. That Tibet "owes China". That Tibet "cannot survive without China's resources". That Tibet "cannot be allowed to be independent from China". Their view is that of the Communist Party.

Interestingly, a teacher I know who was teaching them, picked up on this line of thought and asked them to write what they thought about the situation in Tibet. What was really scarey about this exercise was what they handed in: the same essay in forty hands. All of the students thought in exactly the same way. All of them could have been writing press releases for the Communist Party of China. None of them were able, or willing, to think independently. It was quite sobering to see the sheer SAMENESS of their output. The thoughts I have excerpted above, in the previous paragraph, appeared in every single essay.

Why then does China fear the Truth so much when, even when exposed to it, their PRC youngsters maintain the Party line and speak with the Party tongue? I would say it points to an excessive desire to control their minds. Not only are they to think the Party way - but they are not to be exposed to thoughts contrary to it. There isn't even to be a chance that anyone might agree with an opposition view, because they never get to hear one and are never able to formulate one themselves. They are to be blind to the truth and to the world - and to know only what they are allowed to know. That appears to be the system, anyway.

Is China ever going to be a free nation? I really have my doubts. Even the internet is censored there. Without exposure to the truth of their nation, there is no way that the Chinese themselves are able to see it as it is. They just aren't allowed access to the information. Even when they receive it, as the PRCs studying here have - they don't internalize it, they maintain the Party line and continue to believe resolutely in the ways of the motherland. All of them have been strongly brainwashed, by any standard. None of them are capable of independent thought. China wants it that way - and will keep it that way - unless external forces are strong enough to change the way things are, inside China.

I don't see it happening. The rest of the world is now in what I would call a cowardly phase. They stand on the sidelines of the Tibetan situation and say: "Ho hum, that's not good". However, none of them DO anything about it. The Tibetans are unique. They are a gentle culture, unable to resist the oppressive might of China. Yet, it is easy to see that the international community will do nothing to intervene on their side, that is remotely effective. Will the international community wait until all ethnic Tibetans are dead, before acting?

The youth of China will not make a different China to the old. They will grow up to be the same as their fathers and forefathers. That is easy to see in the PRC students studying in Singapore. They think as their Party thinks. If China is ever to be a democratic state with respectable human rights, the outside world is going to have to show China the way. China just cannot do it itself. Why? It simply doesn't want to - and so it won't.

The Chinese need to know about China. Oddly, they don't. If the world had a moral conscience (I am not sure it does - or at least not an effective one) it should act to ensure that the Chinese people get access to wider information on their own nation. Perhaps then, things will begin to change, and the kind of action presently taking place in Tibet, would become unacceptable to the Chinese people. Right now, however, they think it is just, right and proper to act so. At least, the PRC students here seem to think so. It is interesting to see how their understanding of morality is so constrained that they can consider murder, repression and occupation, as just and justifiable acts.

They have a lot to learn. It is up to the rest of the world to teach them.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and seven months, and Tiarnan, two years exactly, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:19 PM 


Blogger Miao said...

I admire Germans a lot because of their moral courage and willingness to own up to the atrocities they committed in World War 2. They are honest and truly repentant. They do not hide the truth from their own citizens. The Chinese and the Japanese really need to learn from them.

If I were a German I'd feel very proud of my motherland. I'd feel happy that I had the chance to know its past, and thus to love it for what it is, and in spite of what it was.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You have drawn an interesting comparison between societies, Miao. Thank you.

Perhaps because they have faced up to their past, the Germans are building a much more successful and humane society than they have had for a LONG time.

Perhaps, as you say, China and Japan would benefit from the same process. Both have deep issues to deal with - but neither seems keen to do so.

Kind regards

9:20 PM  

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