I was traveling through Istanbul, London and York and Copenhagen in the past 10 days. One thing I discovered about human beings is we all want to be saved.
The blue mosque in Turkey was a gigantic Islamic church from the outside, but I can hardly call it the most impressive one. Throughout Istanbul, there are many mosques in their Byzantine forms. Turkish take their religions seriously. And mosques are built everywhere to ensure convenient access to morning and afternoon services. When I saw those Muslims sat down, pray and worship their dear god Mohammed, I wonder if Mohammed could really do anything for them. It was cool to see Istanbul from the Bosphorus strait, cruising across from Europe to Asia and drove back from the other side. There might not be more meaning to this since continents are set by humans.
The York Ministers is also an amazing architecture, also a church. It is decorated with beautiful colored glasses, wooden and gold interior furniture. People back then truly love Jesus. They donated to the minister and frequent the services. I didn’t see the same dedication from the English as the Turkish though. There were a few small monuments remained from the 17th and 18th century with the donators’ names on them. The woman only lived till 32 and the man 38 on one of the monuments.
Greenwich planetarium was a good place to visit in London. This is where world time zone is defined. From then people can communicate across different time zones and have an understanding of what others are up to far away from them. It helps with sailing and world exploration as well. (Leaving the colonization part aside.)
I can’t believe how lucky we are today, being able to go to other parts of the world freely. We can plan our lives and make changes easily in our 20s and 30s. Women can work and do not have to pop out children every other year until we exhaust our bodies. Men do not have to go to war all the time to fight for land and resources. We can learn about and from one another, understand multiple languages, accept others’ perspectives. (I saw the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum as well. That was really cool. In such early days we realized the importance of the same meaning expressed in two language forms. ) All of these happened only in the past century. And those are huge progresses of human beings.
Copenhagen is a peaceful, quite city with fantastic architectural buildings. Although it was chilly, the sun was out for the first two days of my journey. The city lives in its own fairy tale – highly educated citizens, clean streets and gardens, amazing standard of living. If I was born here, I would probably not want to leave the country. Everything is in order.
Lately I have also been thinking if an orderly society is a good thing. Coming from an extremely chaotic place, I longed an orderly living and working environment almost all my life. However, seeing how the middle class in orderly societies live almost worry me. They seem to have very little ambition and no desire to change their lives. If everything is ok, why change? In Britain, France and Japan, this seems to be happening to the young people. They live in their own spoiled worlds with clean water, air, indoor heating, nice bathrooms, great train system. They take vacations a couple of times a year. On contrast, young people in India and China are much different. Many of us did not grow up with spaces, nice infrastructure, opportunities to travel or even street safety. Because of the struggle, a small fraction of the young people want to change their lives. They study and work diligently, they take calculated risks, they dream and fail, fail and dream. They climb social ladders and jump through hoops. Young Americans seem to have the best of both worlds. They live in a society in which there is both order and chaos. And things change fast. Fortune comes and go. They understand the importance or order, but also take calculated risks. They don’t sit on pride and money or “little citizens’ satisfaction”. They go and create businesses and make differences.
I found the second type of life much worth living than the first. There is nothing wrong with a peaceful middle class life, full of satisfaction, but that is not my aspiration. I personally look down on people who don’t make effort to make life better, or make positive impacts to the society. I hope I can kick around for a few more years, see what’s ahead. I was planning the future lately, but gave up after a while. I am not sure how things will change.
Today, in the middle of Nyhavn in central Copenhagen, I wish fortune or god or fate could save me some day if I fall.