By Bill Jacot from USA in China.org.cn Forum
An open letter to all Chinese students
Today is the first day of three days of mourning that your government has asked us to observe. The purpose of this time is to spend some time thinking about all of the lives that were lost and perhaps thinking about what, if anything, we can learn from this tragedy. Additionally, we must think about all of the people that have survived, in particular, the mothers and fathers who have lost their only child, the husband who has lost his wife or wife who has lost her husband, a child who has lost their parents In America, when we are mourning the loss of someone, it is common for us to wear black clothing, so today I have dressed in black. The tie I am wearing is just to remind us all that the lives of thousands of innocent children were lost, children just like you.
I have no wife; the school is my wife. I have no children of my own, my students are my children. So when a tragedy likes this happens, it is the same as if all of those children were somehow related to me. And please understand that even though this has affected the lives of millions of Chinese people, a tragedy such as this is an international tragedy. I have received emails from different friends that I have in different countries and they all tell me how sorry they are. So understand that your sorrow is shared by millions throughout the world. For a few days, a few weeks or a few months, we can all forget about the differences in our cultures, the differences in our governments, and remember that we are all human beings. I would like to think that the tears that are shed by millions of people during this time of sadness would be enough to create a new ocean on our planet. I think we could call it, The Ocean of Compassion.
I have always believed that every life, no matter how long or how short, is meaningful and has a purpose. I think that those who have lost their lives would find some comfort in knowing that their loss has brought the people of the world closer together, shown that we can work together, that we can help each other and someday perhaps, even love each other. This is a noble cause to die for, so perhaps those who have left us can in some way be regarded as the heroes of our future alliances, that in leaving us, they have brought us closer together.
As young people, still in the process of maturity, I am sure that this tragedy has left some of you feeling frightened and/or confused. This is natural and expected. If you have these feelings, don’t keep them inside; share them with a teacher or your parents. Tell them how you feel, what you are thinking. Death will always be a part of life, but it will never be easy to understand, especially when it happens so unexpectedly.
Lastly, I have a feeling that if the children who lost their lives could come back to life today, they would say that they intend to make their lives more meaningful, more purposeful, and to make every minute important. They would say that they are going to try harder, to do better and that nothing would stop them from becoming successful. But unfortunately, they are gone forever and cannot do that. But you students can. So if you want to remember and honor the lives of your fellow students in China who lost theirs, rededicate yourself to doing something special with your life, to trying harder, to doing better and to making each and every day a day worth living, a day to celebrate being alive.
Bill Jacot - USA
Foreign English Teacher
# 1 Senior Middle School (YiGao)
Xinanxian, Luoyang, Henan
(China.org.cn May 22, 2008)