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The Ideal Society

This time, MaggiE chose the topic by writing about her travels and sending it to Michael for correction ...

You have to know: Distich - pair of verse lines, or couplet - "distiches" is a kind of paper with some good words written on it. Usually, people write some good words on it and then put it besides the door for the spring festival then everyone could see it when they enter the door. Sometimes, especially in the old days, people would like to print them at the store or on wood to write something to show to others. They wrote all kinds of things. Just like how to be a good person and how to get on well with others, or something like that.

My Ideal Society (September 10, 2000)

Recently, I travelled to Huangshan Mountain. That's a beautiful place. But the place which is the most deeply meaningful to me is a place not far from Huangshan Mountain. Its name is Xidi Country. This is country just like a little society. It is said that the forefather of the people who live here was a son of an emperor. When this emperor was killed, his son was alive because he was brought up by his nanny as if he was her own son.

But when I think of this special country, neither the story nor the special buildings is the first thing that I think of. What I remember clearly is the idea of people in this little society. Because this is a big family, so in the past every house was connected to another one. That means, you could walk to another house without going through the gate of your house. But all these kinds of passages were sealed in the Cultural Revolution. But I could still imagine how great it was in the past because this little society is not small at all, it's about 700m X 400m. But everyone was so close to the other. They made those kinds of passages because they wanted to communicate with the other people easily. What's interesting is you could find distiches at the top of the passages easily. The owners of the houses wanted to tell their families that all of them were families, they should treat all the other children as their own children and treat all the other old people as their parents. Although the passages were sealed - I couldn't enter it any more as the people did in the old days - I still could feel how close they were in the past while I was standing in front of it.

You could find distiches nearly everywhere. There are distiches in the parlor and the study and many other places. Most of them are used to tell the children how to be a good person and how to get along well with other people. While I was looking at the distiches, I thought of many things. Maybe this kind of society doesn't fit us nowadays, but the idea suits us and will suit us all the time. Isn't that so? When I walk out of the door, I could find people who are fighting with each other just because of a very little thing. I don't know them. I don't know who they are and what they do. But we are all human beings. So why can't we love other people as our own families. What does "family" mean? Can't we be families without having a blood-relationship?

I still don't know what's an ideal society should be after writing so many words. I don't know much about politics and economics. "What's my ideal society" is still a big question in my head. But, what I think now is that if we could have a society when everyone could regard other people as their familes and repect them, then we are closer to my ideal society.


Michael made this a 'writing assignment' September 14, 2000

Dear Everyone.

It's time for another writing topic don't you think?

MaggiE recently wrote the passage you can see at (above)


Read MaggiE's description of one close-knit society and comment about it, or write about a society with similar cohesive features. In other words, what unusual bonds bring societies together?


I look forward to your thoughts.

Michael Coghlan

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Last updated: October 5, 2000 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0