I love the Chinese Army, but why? I am a Quaker, so am a pacifist who actively dislikes military engagement and military thinking. Collaboration is the way. Is it that I am biased in some way? Perhaps. I love Tai Chi, Chi Gung and Chinese medicine, but that surely is not enough?
Ah, then again I have my eldest son; now that strikes nearer the heart. My first wife was Thai, but ethnically Chinese, so I have blood that is Chinese, and he has three children, so that’s an even deeper level of commitment. But to love the Chinese Army? What have they ever done for me?
To be precise: nothing. You see it’s like this. Two years ago I went into hospital with a near fatal cancer. I had at the time a terrible dream where I was trapped and being dragged down to my doom – and when I suddenly awoke I knew something bad was happening or going to happen to me. In hospital they cut the tumour out but it was malignant. But what has this got to do with the Chinese Army?
Well, the other night I had another strange dream, only this felt very different. I dreamt I was in a large square, or rather grand rectangular area, like one in a city centre (Tiananmen? I have no idea) and there were hundreds, maybe thousands of people, and I was one of them. Suddenly I became aware of this massive and aggressive disruption. As I looked I could see these strangely dressed Chinese people, but in large overcoats and furred hats, and the coats had a strong bluish tint and the tail-ends were reddish. They were causing mayhem and they seemed to have weapons, although in the dream I could not make out what the weapons were.
I knew I was in danger myself, certainly I if were to approach near to them, so I hid back amongst the crowd of other panicking bystanders who were rushing off in all directions. Then all might have been lost, but out of nowhere an army appeared, a Chinese army. And they were all in order, phalanxed and disciplined. They faced the disrupters and called out for them to surrender; but they weren’t going to. However, the presence of the soldiers seemed to inhibit them; they neither seemed so numerous or so dangerous now. The phalanxes surrounded them – their number, their order, their sense of purpose intimidating and curtailing the excess in front of them.
Then, as one, the army paused, or seemed to pause, but simply placed their rifles vertically and attached bayonets. I knew what they were going to do, but was not permitted to see it in the dream. Without words, they closed in and bayoneted the rioters to death – they went in and in, jabbing and doing their grisly business relentlessly till it was done. And I watched them from afar.
Somehow I had to hold back and not rush in to see the carnage, which I knew was there, but I knew in my heart of hearts that the job was done. The Chinese Army had entirely destroyed these looters, these freeloaders, these rioters, this rabble of destruction and I awoke and was so glad. This was necessary. This was not like the dream before.
For I realised at some deeper level what this dream was about. The Chinese Army is my – and your – immune system. And mine had been sluggish and ineffective for far too long. Now it had been activated and it had spotted those tumour cells – those rogue anarchists who seek to undermine the realm, the kingdom of myself. But the army – millions of them – were now back in action and they were deadly, as they should be. What were these tumours compared with the Red Army, my red army?
So as I go forward into 2014 I bless the Chinese Army, confident in the belief that my tumours are dead, and that this metaphor is a lesson for us all. We need to mobilise or own inner resources, and powerful metaphors are a key.