Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Swimming Upstream

Su Beng has been a lot less ambulatory since he was hospitalized for kidney failure in Japan last November, but just recently, I heard from his assistant Bin Hong that he has taken up swimming in the mornings again. I am so heartened to hear this. For as long as I have known him, swimming has always been a part of his morning routine.

This man really has an amazing stamina and memory for his age. Most of my interviews with him, which were conducted at his residence in Sinjhuang, lasted nearly 6 hours. We'd start around 10:00 am, break for lunch and continue until 4:00 pm. As he talked to me about his life, he'd provide me with a historical context, effectively giving me a short history lesson in the process. I have found him to be extremely consistent as we have delved deeper into more detailed discussions of his key life experiences and many adventures. He has always been extremely generous- providing me with lunch in his home and has always accommodated my requests to meet and speak with him.

Since I have relocated to New York, we have continued to communicate via Skype and I look forward to more "virtual conversations" with him in the coming months. At times I am humbled by the magnitude of knowledge required to truly understand and tell this man's story.

In this caricature Su Beng is standing on the island of Taiwan which is surrounded by three sharks symbolized by the flags of China, the Kuomintang (aka Nationalist Chinese) party and United States of America. In his hand he wields a pen on one end and an ax on the other. The pen is one of his "weapons" to protect Taiwan; by writing Taiwan's 400 Years of History, he has awakened the political conscience of the people of Taiwan, giving them a sense of purpose and the will to fight for a free, and independent Taiwan. The ax is a weapon to kill the sharks circling Taiwan. And the globe has landed on Taiwan, symbolizing the need for the international community to keep it's eye on Taiwan. Su Beng believes that Taiwan needs more attention and support from the international community.

25 comments:

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