This I Believe

Tim - Liberty Hill, Texas
Entered on August 19, 2007

While visiting China late last year I stumbled across a young Mongolian man playing an erhu on the overflowing streets of a Beijing hutong. His memory will live with me forever.

The erhu looked to be a thousand years old and freshly recovered from a Song Dynasty tomb. The tune was a haunting and eerie melody that wailed through the dingy alleys, echoed off the decrepit cinder block huts, and seeped from the rotting sewers. The music flowed like a river, each note tuned as perfectly as the keys on a baby grand. I stopped to throw a few Yuan into the man’s case when the music fell silent and the crowd disappeared. My chin fell to the ground.

The man had a face with no eyes or nose. His forehead stopped at the top of his upper lip. I did not see protruding ears, as a normal man has, though I think I could make out the impression of lobes pushing outward from underneath the skin on the sides of his head. My stare was glued to his missing face. My wife grabbed my arm and hastily pulled me away, scolding me like a small child for staring so impolitely; the fact that he could not see that I was staring was lost on my wife. I was intrigued by the man’s musical mastery, wondering how someone who obviously couldn’t see and possibly could not hear managed to create such a magnificent sound from what looked like the simplest of instruments. What motivated him? I was completely fascinated.

In a country so poor, where dollar bills like the ones we hid in the cabbage leaves of a visited farm were worth a month’s salary for the lucky harvester, sat this man playing for tips that were likely stolen as soon as they found his jar. His passion, his talent, and his honesty moved me. An hour later, when we came back by his post, the music no longer played. The man was gone, but the image will last forever.

Unfortunately, I see an amazing similarity between American politicians and the face of my Chinese erhu player; however, there is a distinct difference in character. I have tremendous sympathy for the erhu player, but only disdain for politicians. The politicians ruining our country have mouths that dominate every other feature on their face, moving every waking moment of every day, making promises they have no intention of keeping and deals that benefit the wrong people. Our politicians might as well not have eyes; they do not see what you and I see. They have no need for ears; they cannot hear what our country is screaming. They use only their mouths. As for talent, theirs does not compare; they are masters only of law-twisting, money-grabbing, and power-mongering. If we wish to effect change in America, we must replace politicians with representatives who see and hear the same things the people do. GOOOH is a plan to do just that.