Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen!
My name is David. I’m very glad to join you with the discussion of “tradition in modern times and my topic is “Why don’t we make modern and tradition friends”.
I went to Britain on the school exchange program last summer. Till now I can still remember the feeling I got when we landed back on China. There was something twisting my heart, making me extremely uncomfortable. Later I found out it was the grim and cold modern buildings along the way back to school. Tall as they were, they looked expressionless. Shining as they were, they looked so unreal.
However, when I was walking down the streets of London or Liverpool, what I saw was the ancient buildings gracefully stretching themselves out in front of me, yet leaving no sign of conflicting with the roadsters that roared down the street. On recollecting the marvelous scene, it occurs to me that modern and tradition aren’t born to be enemies. Then I can’t stop wondering why they are so incompatible in China. Old buildings are cruelly replaced by skyscrapers; Peking opera’s popularity is never to beat that of the casually made idol TV series. In a word, new things can’t wait to displace the old. It’s wired, isn’t it? Modernization should not be simple replacement but development after all.
I didn’t get the answer that could orientate me out of my confusion until I went to Australia this winter. As the highlighted part of the tour, we went to see the traditional performance of the aborigines. During the show, one of the aborigines slightly injured his knee due to the exceedingly passionate primitive dance, forcing him to totter down from the stage when the show was over. What was shocking was that no one in the audience seemed to have been aware of this. They applauded. They cheered. Yet they still left their seats without even a glance at him. If any, the emotion in their eyes was like watching the monkeys in the zoo. I couldn’t feel more sympathetic to him and when passing him I whispered: ”are your knees ok?” Surprisingly, he seemed too thrilled to speak anything. He only uttered: “wha??ah!......ya……” with bubbling laughter in the end of the series of simple words. “Take care” I said to him. He immediately replied “Yeah!”, clapping me on the back.
I felt warmth. Yet I also felt a chill. The answer then jumped out itself: like the pitiless tourists, we labeled ourselves as modern citizens. Meanwhile we took up the mask of arrogance which prevented us from taking a good look at tradition. That gave no chance of interaction between tradition and modern, thereby making them the seemingly incompatible enemies.
Such attitude is horribly dangerous. With the label “modern”, we are always trying to put us in the highest point of the mountain of history. Yet we have forgotten that without the stones of tradition under our foot, we may easily fall down from it. The hazardous consequences have actually been shown by Charlie Chaplin in his famous silent film Modern Times. It vividly describes how the factory workers become(时态？) the salves of the crazy modern machines and how the humanity is lamentably trampled in the process. The ignorance of tradition will just lead us to nihility like the modern buildings that severely twisted my heart.
So why don’t we modern citizens take off the unreasonable sense of superiority and try to make friends with tradition?
Modern and tradition can actually be such a pair of close friends that modern designers can get their cues from the traditional Chinese cheongsam. Modern and tradition can actually be such a pair of close friends that modern musicians are able to use modern technology to give an excellent performance of the classic music of Bach. Modern and tradition can actually be such a pair of close friends that even foreign students in the modern world are eager to discover the practical value of Confucianism. Modern and tradition can actually be such a pair of close friends that the spirit of Tao, or Taoism, is still attracting our dear chemistry teacher Mr. Hu Lieyang and is well combined with his ways of teaching.
Don’t hesitate to listen to what tradition is saying. You will find it more agreeable than you ever expected.