人们想的不一样 June 6, 1966 Wang Xiao Yu, Age 14
(People don't think the same)
Shun Yi, Beijing
I headed for the normal meetings on Monday morning for the Red Guard high schoolers, we were to meet in room 124 at Beijing No.4 Secondary School 北京市第四中学, to see what we would do today. I was excited, I was always giddy before a meeting. I hoped that I get to do something for once. The only "major" thing I did was take down a sign on the Xiao Mai Bu and replace it with a more revolutionary name. But, that's just beginner's stuff I wanted to move to something big. "Hey! Wang, are you excited about today's meeting? I heard that we might just get a chance at something good." An Yi, my best friend exclaimed. I linked arms with her and said that I'm always excited about meetings. Arm in arm, skipping down to 124, An Yi and I walked down to the meeting with high hopes.
Journal Entry 1
Red Guards were groups of young adults from high school to college. They lasted only one year, from 1966-1967.
I thought I would have exploded with excitement! We finally got assigned something good. We were going to raid a temple. I had never been in one, my family never had any religion, but it sounded fun. An Yi and I were in the same group, and so we talked and laughed the whole way there, planning what we would do with the Four Olds things. Four Olds are things that fall under the categories of Old culture, Old customs, Old habit and Old ideas. We walked up a stone laid path, the grass was unkempt, the temple falling apart in some places. The sun smiled brightly on us, almost like it was happy for our mission to raid the temple. The brown, creaky doors reluctantly opened as we pushed them. We heard the pin drop. We all kind of waited for a while. I looked up. The ceiling seemed to stretch to the sky, covered in lanterns in all colors, but mostly red. Incenses, long since burned seeped from the walls and floor. The smoky flower smell filled my and my comrade’s nostrils, as did the blurs of colors coming from the barely lit walls. Gold glinted off the warm summer sun, and the Buddha statue smiled down at us, we were frozen. It's such a shame, I thought, I just wish that I didn't have to tear it all down. We started walking around the room, silently taking things down, as if they would set off some alarm. Gradually we got louder as we went. I couldn’t move. I couldn't make myself move. I don't know why, but I felt like I just couldn't do it. I looked at An Yi, Red Guards raiding a temple, throwing out and she looked the same way too. We just looked at each other silently anything that was in the Four Olds. communicating, then reluctantly, moved to start taking things down. We walked back home in silence. I think An Yi and I were thinking the same thing. Was that the right thing to do? “Goodnight.” I breathed. “See you tomorrow.” An Yi murmured. That’s all we said. I don't know anymore, I shouldn't be challenging Mao's ideas. But if An Yi won’t say anything, I won’t either. Every time I think differently, I look around. Where ever I go, I keep a lookout. I worry if what I grew up believing is right.
September 14, 1971 Wang Xiao Yu, Age 19
Shun Yi, Beijing
Journal Entry 2
I woke up this morning afraid. I do every day ever since 1966. It's been five years, four since the Red Guards disbanded and the Down to the Countryside Movement began. I didn't have to go because my parents need me, but being in the Red Guards has softened my heart to my family. I love my family more, and I was wrong to be a Red Guard. Or at least, that's what I say in my head. I'm scared. It's been five years. Five years since I thought my first thought against Mao. I asked An Yi about how she felt, and she didn't say anything, but she never told anyone how I felt either. It's like that, it's been like that for a while now. You can't talk to anyone anymore. They could turn you in, someone could hear, and you could get beat. You’d be a traitor to Mao, Communism and the country. I review this every day in my head so that I keep my mouth shut. That's why my parents don't talk as much, to each other or me. I thought as I walked to the market today. Voices yelling, hands busy, bodies moving, I made my way over to the newspaper stand. Today, Mama wanted a paper, we haven't gotten one in a while, and so I wanted one too. There was a commotion by the stand. People swarmed by the stand like they were bees trying to get to the hive. I shoved my way through the swamp and finally emerged. "Are there any more? What's the big commotion?" I asked. I didn't need to. I looked at the Beijing papers, and in big, bold writing said: LIN BIAO DEAD. The subtitle read: Opposing Mao attempted an assassination but failed. I ripped a paper from the wall, absorbed in it, dug in my pocket for the one kuai fee and tossed it to the man in the stand. I walked straight home, my head buried in the paper. I finally looked up after finishing the paper, back to front. My head seemed like it was the main road, Nan Fa Xin Zhen. Lin Biao was Mao’s designated successor until he died on Thoughts rushed, ran and crashed all over the place. Why would Lin September 13, 1971. Lin Biao died supposedly in a plane crash Biao try to kill Mao? Did Lin Biao try to kill Mao? What's going on? Is after a failed assassination. Mao really telling the truth? Or has he been…. Is he…. Wang, you can't think this. Keep your mouth shut. Head down. I pushed the door open. "Mama, I'm back…" Later I had to go back out to tend to the field. "How dare you oppose Mao?! What do you think now? Let's see how long you can stand like that, traitor!" Screams, shouts, bangs, filled the air. WHAT is going on?! I dropped everything, looked back at my shack home that can only barely fit the four of us in it. Just go. I ran, wishing I could go faster, wishing I could stop, wishing I could make up my mind. The people, like a human barricade, block my path to the uproar. I squeezed and squished my way to the front. I screamed at the man next to me: "Why is he up there?" "He spread the rumor that Lin Biao was killed by Mao, but we all know the truth." He yelled back bitterly. The man stood, shattered, on the platform. A thin metal wire hung around his neck that held a sign. The sign read: Traitor to Mao. Zi Chen. The name Zi Chen was written in black but was crossed out in red. But that wasn’t the only red thing, blood was dropping People who were persecuted had to stand like this for hours, from the wire around his neck. Being around long enough, and 19 years old, I knew what that meant. And all those kids who around were about to and often died. figure out what it meant. I spotted my brother, Xiao Xi (who isn't so small anymore), ran to him and dragged him from the crowd. "Do you know what those red X's mean?" I asked him, eyes wide. "No, but I did hear what it means." Xi said. "What do they mean?" "Why should I tell you?" Xi challenged. "Red x's through your name." I sighed, "Mean that you are going to get executed. But he deserves that." I quickly added. "He questioned Mao's pure truth, he should be punished." "Oh." Xi whispered. I held his hand, and we walked home together. We haven't held hands for forever, and I must not have looked at him recently. He’s 15 and really handsome, I wish I knew him better. We walked back in silence.
I don't think I've ever walked so far. September 9, 1976 Wang Xiao Yu, Age 24
Shun Yi, Beijing
Journal Entry 3
It had been a very prosperous year, the most in the last thirty years my parents said. I told my parents how I had felt as a Red Guard on my temple raid. I cried as I told them because I knew that telling them this could kill me. Literally. They didn't tell though. My parents told me that they had felt the same way, and was glad that I had "woken up". We never told Xi though and made sure that he couldn't hear us when I told them. We're not sure how Xi feels, but we donâ€™t think he does either. Sometimes he speaks out, sometimes he praises Mao. We don't say anything, but he sees the looks that we share across the room. You can't be too careful with who you talk with, I don't even tell An Yi. We're both 24, and we haven't moved from our small village, Shun Yi. An Yi's married, but I haven't really found anyone yet. I just want my kids to live in a happy safe place. Not where they have to fear if they say the wrong thing, or if they act the wrong way. I want them to be kids. I want them to have the childhood that I couldn't. Clanking, scraping, silence filled the little wooden shack we live in. Silence normally takes a seat at the head of the table and soaks up the conversation. Xi, talkative and loud, grew up. I try to hang out with him, to get to know him better. But, he pushes me away, to fulfill his vacant teen and young adult life. He's twenty, and I know it's too late, but I still try to get to know him. I think of our family, he is the most loyal to Mao. We were sitting down for dinner, silence taking over again. Thankfully, sound finally barged in. People were yelling, screaming, in agony, and in pain. Mama, Baba and I turned to look at each other so fast, we almost turned the table over. "What?! Why did you do that?" Xi demanded. We stared, wide-eyed, but understanding, I nodded. "Xi, we need to be normal. If those people outside are coming for us, we need to stand our ground. Wait, donâ€™t freak out. If Mao needs something from us, of course, we'll give it, or do anything he needs. We just want to know what they want us to do before we say or do anything." My mother added. We waited. Silence had taken over again. But this time, tension followed. We jumped, the knock scared us so bad. Hesitating, and a little shaken, I walked over to the door, let out a sigh. It's ok Wang, just throw on a cool face, and open the door. What's the worst that could happen? Door squeaking, my face fell. "An Yi, what a nice surprise. What's up?" I questioned. "Xiao Yu, I came as soon as I heard. Wang, Mao's dead." I slapped my brain. I tried not to scream. I tried not to do anything. Just hold your face, look sad, don't do anything stupid. Drawing breath, I said: "Oh, oh An Yi, that's terrible. Thank you for letting us know. Would you like to come in?" "Thank you, but no, I must get home to the children. I'll see you later?" I nodded, wished her goodbye, and shut the door. I took a moment to compose myself. Then I turned around about to say something, but Baba jutted in. "Xi, why don't you see if Li or any of your other friends know? They should be told regardless. We'll take care of dinner, go grieve and send our condolences if you can." Xi looked like he had been waiting for those exact words. A blur, dark hair and eyes flashed past me. I knew he wouldn't be back for a while. I smiled, as wide as the Great Wall of China. "Mao's gone. We can finally talk!" "Shhh!!! Just because Mao's dead, doesn't mean people won't still threaten us." Baba warned. We cleaned up dinner and got Though Mao caused the people to kill their neighbors, friends and family, ready for bed. It was literally the happiest day of my life. I knew they still followed and believed everything he told them. They mourned him that my kids would get the childhood they deserved. when he died, worshiped him when he was alive, and did all they could to show their loyalty. It took the people a little while to finally "wake up" and realize what they had done.
This huge thing, the act of tearing apart families, friends, neighbors, and the country, is what they call the Great Proletarian Revolution. Created by Mao, all thanks to him. If you asked me what I thought of the “revolution” I’d tell you it’s worthless. It was just so Mao could do what he wanted, and have people still love him. I’d tell you that he tore relationships of all the people in China apart. He caused tension and hatred between societies. He triggered an all-out civil war where people would do whatever they could to get the power they wanted. Mao ripped friends apart, destroyed families, he covered up everything and made everyone wear a happy face. Sibling killed sibling. Son killed father. Friend killed friend. Neighbor killed neighbor. Leader killed leader, and they all wore a smile. He told us that getting rid of the unclean or uncivilized person was the right thing to do. He told us to beat and kill the guilty. Shame the accused, and love the people who hurt others. Mao used us. He used the kids, to get rid of pesky unchanging parents and teachers. He used the parents to get rid of other adults. He used everyone and anyone to justify his work. He was the Helmsman, the Great Chairman, he was a god. To everyone, he was everything. But he was nothing more than the dirt on my shoe to me.
Mao was the power hunger leader of China for 27 years. He created the Great Proletarian Revolution, otherwise known as the Chinese Cultural Revolution. He created it to keep him in power, and seem like a god. People basically worshiped him, and were brainwashed into trusting him. Cruel, determined, Mao Zedong died on September 9, 1976. The people were finally free.
Published on Mar 13, 2018