A relief tent in China
Chinese people often say: You cannot do anything without money. Thus, it is understandable that many people love money. But there is also a Chinese proverb: If a noble man loves wealth, he gets it through proper channels
. Last week, I was shocked after learning from a news report that people sold off relief tents to construction sites in eastern Anhui province for private gain. Who could sink so low to commit such an evil thing? I felt very uncomfortable. It reminds me of a news report many years ago that unmasked an official who gave donated clothing which was in good condition to his relatives and friends, and threw the older items away. Today, fewer people do evil things so openly, but it still happens in some places. In our society, people often think highly of a person because of their wealth. Yet, many do not ask where the money comes from. If you are wealthy, you enjoy good social status and win respect from others. But I wonder if those who make dirty money can sleep peacefully. After the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake rocked southwestern China in May 2008, there were many touching stories in newspapers and on TV concerning numerous kindhearted persons from around the world. The vast majority tried to lend a helping hand to victims by donating money, clothing, food and tents. Three years have passed, but the ghastly scenes in the quake’s aftermath are still vivid. I participated in relief efforts after the quake in which Catholic charitable organizations from within and outside China worked together to visit victims and deliver relief aid. They purchased 6,550 tents from overseas, at a cost of 13 million yuan (about US$2 million), which were transported in three aircraft to the hardest-hit areas. With the help of a dozen bishops and Catholic volunteers, the tents were distributed in Dujiangyan, Pengzhou, Shifang, Mianzhu, Anxian, Jiangyou, Guangyuan, Bolin and other small towns to homeless victims regardless of their religious beliefs. During that period, we worked tirelessly. Every day, we went to sleep after midnight, woke up early in the morning and then set out to different disaster areas. We felt exhausted but were happy to see the victims getting some shelter. For a person with the Catholic faith, wholehearted dedication does not need any reward except the joy of God. Of course, the good side of human nature was fully displayed after the earthquake, with many kindhearted people across the country making donations and devoted volunteers helping numerous victims in distress. Some people even sacrificed their lives during rescue work. We can see that despite facing many challenges and temptations, the majority of Chinese people still have a conscience and are aware of what is right and wrong. Only a very small number of people corrupt and cheat. Fewer still, unchecked by conscience try to make “dirty money” out of catastrophes. Looking at the recent case of selling relief tents, we can see how ridiculous these people are. Do they know what the true meaning of life is? Nobility is not how much wealth you possess, but how much happiness you give to yourself and to others. Teresa Wang is a Catholic laywoman from Nanchong diocese in Sichuan province.
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