Imagine an iron house without windows, absolutely indestructible, with many people fast asleep inside who will soon die of suffocation. But you know since they will die in their sleep, they will not feel the pain of death. Now if you cry aloud to wake a few of the lighter sleepers, making those unfortunate few suffer the agony of irrevocable death, do you think you are doing them a good turn?
But if a few awake, you can’t say there is no hope of destroying the iron house.
Lu Xun is my favorite Chinese writer. Period.
I remember that this preface was also mentioned in the Korean Drama “Healer” written by Song Ji-na and starring Ji Chang-wook, Park Min-young and Yoo Ji-tae.
In this preface, we can clearly see what he means by this analogy. He’s asking us to arise and awake. He’s teaching us that it’s so much better to try than to give up and not try at all. It’s better to live with the satisfaction of having done something and not having regrets.
But that’s all in one context.
When we move over to the political side, however, we find that there’s whole new meaning to this preface. Since times immemorial, the world has seen many dictators. Some loudly proclaimed themselves as one, while the others declared through their actions.
But the worst are those who climb the stairs of power claiming that all they want is to serve the common people, but in the end become tyrants. This was a pattern seen many times. Though the Soviet Union did deliver their promises in the early stages of Communism, centralization of power led to stagnation and didn’t allow open debate and growth. The leaders suppressed people’s voices. But then, that’s all history.
The worst part of all of this is that it’s still going on in some counties. And even while we know what it is, we stay silent and act as if we dont know anything and as if we’re not involved in it. But in reality, it’s all about us. It’s about our children and their children.
After all, who are a few men who sit in the high seats? Can they bear the brunt of millions of angry and dissatisfied common people’s voices? Is their power higher than the will-power of a poor man?
If we try together as one to secure our rights, at least, we can die in peace is what I feel is Lu Xun indirectly telling us.
Again, you might have different opinions on this and you’re allowed to have them, of course! You’re welcome to share your ideas on this beautiful preface, too!
Please share your ideas on this preface by commenting on this post! We look to widen the debate on this debate because your voice counts too!