Not long ago, I came to Beijing to attend an important conference in my field. It was held at the Media Center Hotel and I was a "co-chairman", quite an honor for me. When in Beijing I like to walk a lot. One day after a meeting held at the Chinese Institute of Electronics, I decided to take a nice walk east along Yuyuantan Nanlu to return to the hotel.
On the way I passed a primary school. It was the end of the school day and suddenly many small children rushed from the gate of the school. I smiled and stepped aside to watch this energetic (and noisy!) treasure of China, the little children, and the future. And then I noticed something else. Almost every child was greeted by a family member: here a young mother meeting her child to take her home, perhaps to a shop first, maybe even for some ice cream; there a much older man, a grandfather like me, meeting his grandson, who scrambled quicklysintosthe seat over the back wheel of his bicycle. They went pedaling off, going home or maybe spending some time in the park with the big bell near my hotel. I saw so many people meeting the young scholars, and I thought to myself how similar this scene is in China and America.
But not identical. In America we use our automobiles so much, even for short hauls to the local school, despite realizing that we shouldn't contribute to air pollution. Also, in America many children use school buses to go to school and return home each day. Perhaps you know about our school buses: They are nearly always bright yellow with black lettering showing the name of the school. They also have many special lights on them for safety. All automobiles must stop when children are getting on or off a school bus and the bright red safety lights are flashing. Decades ago school buses were first used in the countryside in America when tiny country schools were consolidatedsintosbigger schools farther away from the farms. More recently school buses have been used in the cities to take children to more distant schools as a part of local programs aimed at integrating the races, to bring black children and white children together more, so they can learn to understand one another better. And on the return trip, even though the school buses drop children off very close to their homes, a parent or grandparent will often meet the school bus when their small child comes home.
So whether they go to school by car, on foot, on bike or by boat, or just meet the school bus, parents all over the world have this same feeling about their children. It is apparently a strong human instinct: we all treasure our children; we love and protect them instinctively.
Some parents, alas, lack the means to treasure their children. For example, thousands of Palestinian children began this school year without the basic items they needed. Even worse, some parents can't afford the food their children need insgroupsto survive, let alone the fees for school. UNICEF estimates that around the world 150 million children are malnourished and over 120 million never go to school.
Continuing my walk, I thought to myself how helpful it would be if older people, the world's leaders, would emphasize in their work the lovely things we share instinctively, such as love for our children, rather than the various things that tend to divide us. I realize that we must face many things in the real world that as nations we don't agree on. But how nice it might be if our international relations were more strongly rooted in the things we DO share!