最近无论是打开报纸杂志收听广播或是上网都是铺天盖地的有关纪念张国荣的新闻。是的，差点忘了今年四月一日是香港一代巨星张国荣去世九周年。但是同时中国十三亿人民是否还有人会记得四月二号是童话家安徒生（Hans Christian Andersen, April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875）的生日？我想现今看过张国荣的电影或听过他的歌的青少年比看过安徒生童话的还要多。这是可惜还是可悲呢？
上个星期天我们全家高高兴兴地庆祝小侄女考上旧金山名高中Lowell High School,但是这位品学兼优的侄女连契诃夫是谁也不知道。 当然更不指望她看过契诃夫的作品。我母亲，一个热爱俄国文学的人,对于屠格涅夫、高尔基、契诃夫、列夫•托尔斯泰和普希金等的名著有如数家珍。她对我那位聪明的侄女带点轻蔑,犹如我侄女讥讽我连贾斯汀•比伯（Justin Bieber）是谁也不知 一样。
I am not a big fan of neither Pop Idol from UK nor American Idol, or any other spin-off from the UK's Pop Idol around the world. However, Susan Boyle's name came to my horizon the next morning after she sang "I Dreamed a Dream" in a such reality show in UK. Indeed, the media have demonstrated their power again. This time, they made a seemly ordinary person well known around the world overnight. The days followed, virtually everyone talked about Susan Boyle. Her performance had been shown again and again on our TV and radio. Her anecdotes were even mentioned in one of my local minority community radio show. In a particular episode of Money Radio, a family financial advisory show, the host, Mr. Sau-Wing Lam(林修榮, or 林修荣), talked about her and the inspiration of ordinary people having potential of being successful in their life.
Looking back now, after I watched the performance of a contestant regarded as China's new Susan Boyle in a Chinese Idol show, I began to think deeply about this phenomenon, not because of my doubt of ordinary people being able to be successful in real life, but rather, the different treatments received between the two "Susan Boyle" by the our media here. Susan Boyle in UK has well received in the world, and yet this "Susan Boyle", who has the similar background and most importantly also has spectacular voice as Ms Boyle, has got virtually no intentions in the media here despite the fact that almost everyone in China knows him. I am talking about 1.3 billions or more people in the other part of the world. This drives me think that, as an ordinary resident here living in the US, I really wonder now what else we could have missed from the rest of the world!
Frankly, I didn't know this ordinary farmer named Zhu Zhiwen(朱之文), his amazing voice and his singing talent despite he's become well known in China since the beginning of this year. I discovered him by chance here from the Internet when I tried to go over some versions of my favorite song, "Love in Vain(枉凝眉)", the theme song of "Hong Lou Meng" or "Dream of Red Chamber". One singer's voice caught my attention. Although I am not an artist, his distinct voice attracted me. Searching him revealed that he is China's new Susan Boyle! He is a farmer who loves to sing but without any formal musical education. He's taught himself music and kept practicing singing for more than twenty years. He took part in Chinese Idol in the begining of this year, and his singing surprised everyone immediately. Some say that his singing is even better than some professional singers in China. He suddenly became China's new Susan Boyle!
Zhu Zhiwen in Chinese Idol
Although Mr. Zhu became famous in China, little is known about him here, even within the Chinese community. Obviously, Mr. Zhu is not the real Susan Boyle well known in this part of the world. I think that Susan Boyle really owes our mainstream media a big thanks for being today's her. For China's new Susan Boyle, I just hope that this honest farmer wouldn't become jealous about the real Susan Boyle. At the same time, I hope people here like myself won't continue to become too ignorant about things happening in other parts of our world. However, I know it will be very challenging for our media are only interested in our own stories, the stories in our Western world to be precise. Yours aren't our business, and we have absolute controlling power over what our people should know.
Love in Vain - with Yu Wenhua, who led him to CCTV's stage
During my summer vacation in Reno, Nevada, I had a chance to see an acrobatic show performed by an acrobatic team from China, Imperial Acrobats of China, ‘a world class’ performance as presented in its introduction of the show.
The performers’ Asian looks surely add additional merits to their ‘world class’ performances in this highly competitive entertainment environment. They didn’t talk, nor they sang. They performed with virtually every part of their body, unthinkably flexible and balanced, beautifully synchronized to complete one after another highly difficult acts that their audiences would think impossible to perform. Probably a little is known to their American audiences that these performers all have an uncommon background. They usually start their training as early as elementary kids. When their American counterparts are playing computer and video games in the comfort of their home, they are practicing in school.
Watching their performances with their smiles on the stage, I realized that kids in China indeed sacrifice too much of their childhood in preparations of their future. What I mean is that this phenomena happens not only to acrobatic field, but virtually very fields that you can imagine, sports such as gymnastics, swimming, arts and music such as painting, piano, violin, and many more. Sometimes I would doubt if it is worth it because such kids may have a incomplete childhood, losing many aspects of life of being a kid that their peers take for granted. Even thought I can understand the mentality of those parents sending their young kids to those schools for this kind of special training, I sometimes still find it hard for me to comprehend the harsh path they need to go through, living in the dormitory far away from home, leaning and practicing all day long, only being with their family a few days in a year, mostly for their entire childhood.
Behind their smiles on their faces and the applause from their American audiences, I wonder who really know or care about their losses, their resentments and their tears they shed along their paths to the stage.
When talking about autism in general, people usually focus on children with autism or its variants. I have seldom heard about information about adults with autism or high functioning autism. I was thrilled but still able to hold my tears in my eyes when I listened to a NPR talk show about this topic today during my lunch break. In his show “Making The World Work For Adults With Autism”, the host and his guests, the authors of an article “Autism's First Child”, talked about the life of adults with autism and the social environment around them. Many ardent parents of autistic children also called in to discuss and share their own experiences.
Families with autistic kids surely have more to be concerned about. The cruel reality is that autism will not end when their kids gradually grow into adults. Their disability will continue to affect them when they grow up. The only difference is that they are going to face new types of challenges in their adult life. The parents of those who need help on their day-to-day living willl have their greatest concern because they can't take care of them forever. For those whose syndrome is less severe to be independent enough to support themselves, they still have a long and rough way ahead of them. Studying in college, starting a career, making friends, dating, pursuing a family, along with many other unpreditable things ahead, none of them is by no mean easy for them in our current social environment.
Unfortunately, our society seems more tolerant toward children with autism than adults with the same disability, and the public is more tolerant toward physical disability than neurological disability. A blind person surely gets more help or understandings from the general public than a person with autism. Part of the reason might be that the public really doesn’t fully understand the nature of this disability, and thus doesn't know how to interact with those who have it. These people are absolutely not arrogant(曲高傲寡) as some other people have many misconceptions on them. They simply just lack the ability to interact with others in a given social environment. It is so sad that it is their disability that block in their way to get help from the outside world. It is also so sad that it is the same disability that makes it difficult for the society as a whole just to make the world work for them.