A visit to a small bookstore in the town of Chia-Yi was included in our Taiwan tour program. Initially, we expected to buy some books there, which we later understood was not the reason. Upon our arrival, we were hospitably greeted by a modest young man named Yu Guo-xin.
He gives out all information and news about Taiwan and its history to locals and foreigners through books, and discusses historically significant books with his readers. The activity then expanded extensively for 10 years to what is now a Book Readers’ Club.
The point of this is that since opening his first small bookstore in a busy street at the age of 21, the man said he has achieved a good deal of success. Rather than his appearance, it was his devoted passion to protect and preserve his home country, its history, culture and tradition that captivated us. This made me wonder, at the time, why can’t we Mongolians do the same struggle.
Yu Guo-xin said he was highly concerned and heartbroken by the fact that in order to build modern constructions, the government is destroying and replacing many historic and culturally significant buildings of Chia-Yi. Therefore, he refused to do nothing about this matter, and gathering people with similar concerns and interests, he let his voice be heard. The success of this movement encouraged and motivated him to continue to save more of cultural heritage resources.
We learned through him that protesting against the government’s decisions and achieving positive results can be possible. It might seem to you that building fancy constructions with modern technology is a rightful decision. But even though we Mongolians have the freedom of speech and expressing our opinions to the high officials, it isn’t influencing enough to change or cancel their decisions. The clear example of this is seen from the mining sector issue of Mongolia.
It is almost a tradition that the Citizens’ Movements demonstrate on Sukhbaatar square, present petitions to the government, which if fails to be achieved, turns into tougher struggles. Very rare has it been we turned matters on our side, even when sacrificing our health and life.
The case was similar when Yu Guo-xin and his companions first fought using tougher methods to preserve their historical heritage and failed to see better results. But they never gave up the effort and finally saw results by choosing a gentler, more peaceful method of protest. His bookstore used to be located at an old house which was once the home of a regular 20th century citizen. But the government issued a decision to bring down the building, replacing it with a new, modern standard hotel. After much thinking, Hun-Yang came up with an idea that would keep the old building intact.
The plan was to explain and make them realize why it’s necessary to keep the old traditions and heritages. For example, they garner the public’s attention by operating bazaars and exhibitions that sell the citizens’ hand-made items, food and beverages, and hold small concerts and plays in those significant buildings and areas and then advertise the historical and cultural importance of those places to the visitors. Hence, not only was the aged house saved, people lent their hands to renovate it. Surrounded by fancy modern buildings, the old house stands , now a cafe, reminding people of how common citizens of the 1960’s lived and the importance of preserving history and tradition for the next generation.
Another place that was saved this way is an ancient prison of Chia-Yi. Anyone might think this unpleasant place with bad energy should be brought down. But its notably dark history tells that when the Japanese troops invaded Taiwan, they took many lives and people were locked and tortured in those prison cells. Nevertheless, it shows to the descendants, how much it took to defeat the Japanese and saved their small island and town, thus the importance of preserving it. What’s most important is whenever Taiwanese citizens pass by this old place, they would feel the historic event in their heart, as if they were there.
There’s a saying “the soft defeats the hard”. Yu Guo-xin deeply understood that shouting, screaming and tightening their fists wouldn’t make any difference. Therefore, he learnt that the most effective way is to turn to the citizens and their mentality. In result, the public supported their activity and the government was left with no choice but to raise the flag and surrender.
(Written by Gantsatsral / Translated by Azjargal / Proofread by McKensie)
See the link: http://en.nomadgreen.org/archives/6930