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Mon Dec 3, 2012, 10:12 AM

Chinese Sixth-Grader’s Viral Essay: “Survival and Security of the Entire Human Race” Depend on My

Test Score

November 25, 2012 | by Minami Funakoshi
Chinese Sixth-Grader’s Viral Essay: “Survival and Security of the Entire Human Race” Depend on My Test Score

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who will surely come if one young boy fails his upcoming test. (Via Wikimedia Commons)
This article also appeared in The Atlantic, a Tea Leaf Nation partner site.

Recently, an essay purportedly written by a sixth grader—an epitome of the “butterfly effect”—went viral on the Chinese Internet.

“Time passes very quickly. It’s midterm season soon, I already began nervously preparing for the test, I must begin working harder, because if I don’t work hard and review well, then my grades will not go up, and I will be scolded by my parents, and if I get scolded by my parents then I will lose self-confidence, if I lose self-confidence then I will not finish my studies, if I do not finish my studies then I will not graduate , if I can’t graduate from university then I will not find a good job, if I don’t find a good job then I won’t be able to make money, if I don’t make money then I can’t pay taxes, if I don’t pay taxes then it will be difficult for the country to pay salary to teachers, if teachers can’t get paid then they will not be dedicated to teaching, if they are not dedicated to teaching, then this will impact our nation’s future, if our nation’s future is impacted, then it will be difficult for China to advance and develop, and the Chinese people will degenerate into a barbaric race. If the Chinese people degenerate into a barbaric race, then the USA will begin to suspect that our nation has large-scale murderous weapons, if our nation has large-scale murderous weapons, then the USA will start a war with China and World War III will erupt, if WWIII erupts, both the strengths of both the USA and China will not be enough, if their strengths are not enough then they will use nuclear weapons, if they use nuclear weapons then they will destroy the environment, if the environment is destroyed then this will create a big hole in the atmosphere, if there is a big hole in the atmosphere then global warming will escalate and the glaciers at both poles will melt, if the glaciers melt then the global water level will rise, if the global water level rises then the entire human race will drown and die. Because it relates to the survival and security of the entire human race, therefore I must spend the remaining next few days on review in order to do well on the test, and thus prevent a tragedy from happening.”

The teacher commented at the end of the essay, “Haha I laughed out loud when I read this!”

This absurdly comical essay did not only make Chinese web users laugh. It also prompted many to reflect. One web user was quoted by People’s Daily as writing, “After I read this, I felt ashamed of myself. This elementary student’s mentality is something we should all learn from.” Another web user was said to comment, “I went back to my books .”

Children rarely speak ironically; their off-hand comments often reveal ideologies or anxieties that pervade society at a sub-conscious level. This elementary school student, who worries aloud that his behaviour could affect the future of the human race, reflects a shift in Chinese consciousness: A growing sense of responsibility as a global citizen, an increasing interest in the world outside China, and the realization that China, as an influential nation, must contribute to world peace.

http://www.tealeafnation.com/2012/11/chinese-sixth-graders-viral-essay-survival-and-security-of-the-entire-human-race-depend-on-my-test-score/

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Chinese Sixth-Grader’s Viral Essay: “Survival and Security of the Entire Human Race” Depend on My (Original post)
polly7 Dec 2012 OP
RC Dec 2012 #1
lbrtbell Dec 2012 #9
HEyHEY Dec 2012 #14
demosocialist Dec 2012 #17
HEyHEY Dec 2012 #18
Uncle Joe Dec 2012 #2
DetlefK Dec 2012 #3
BanzaiBonnie Dec 2012 #8
freshwest Dec 2012 #11
pangaia Dec 2012 #4
Baitball Blogger Dec 2012 #5
patrice Dec 2012 #6
freshwest Dec 2012 #10
xtraxritical Dec 2012 #7
NBachers Dec 2012 #12
mainer Dec 2012 #15
mainer Dec 2012 #13
progressoid Dec 2012 #16

Response to polly7 (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:06 AM

1. One difference between "Us" and "Them".

 

We are a self centered culture. The individualist, the "Self Made Man" and all that cock & bull.
The Chinese stress interdependence over individualism. A more collectivist society. The dreaded Socialism.

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Response to RC (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:41 PM

9. But this kid is stressed beyond belief

There needs to be a balance between individualism and collectivism. Yes, you need to care about your community, but not to the point where you lose your own sense of self-worth.

We are part of a greater community, not just cogs in a machine.

There's a happy medium that we should all strive to achieve.

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Response to RC (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:00 PM

14. You have a lot to learn about China

I lived there for almost four years. It is about as socialist as Wall Street, they don't have universal healthcare, education isn't free and there is no social safety net. Collectivism is merely a ruse they tell the outside world they engage in, in reality greed and selfishness are more common than any place I've ever been.

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Response to HEyHEY (Reply #14)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 02:22 PM

17. I lived in China also

I agree with you Collectivism is a ruse for the poor and the masses. When I was in China it struck me how similar the powers in China and the US were. More closely related than any other two countries I lived in. I will say though that the ruse takes hold on the poor. Individualism at the top, and collectivism at the bottom. The migrant workers in China are some of the most oppressed people in the world, yet their collective mindset is admirable, especially when the huge cultural differences are considered between the different migrant groups.

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Response to demosocialist (Reply #17)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 09:19 PM

18. I found that less collectivism and more like strength in numbers or just the Chinese tendency

To think in packs on not stand out for fear of being chopped down. Sure they will back each other up in a fight or co-operate on a construction site, but then it's every sucker for himself. That's what I thought anyway. Where were you over there?

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Response to polly7 (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:21 AM

2. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, polly.

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Response to polly7 (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:44 AM

3. Well, I didn't laugh.

You try finding a sixth-grader that has opinions about taxation, foreign policy and the longterm-survival of the human-race.


Mankind won't die out because of climate-change. Climate-change will merely create enough economic and social pressure to destroy civilization. The motivation to cling to the unrealistic decadent lifestyle of the past (cheap gas, cheap grains, cheap meat) will be stronger than the motivation to avoid war.
In an ironic way, it's funny: Scientists are developing technologies right now that have long been deemed science-fiction. Because, what's a post-apocalyptic world without nanotech, sentient robots and gauss-rifles?

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:41 PM

8. I didn't laugh either

While the burden for everything may not lay on the shoulders of any one person, everything we do affects everyone else.

I thought the essay was actually quite insightful. Though, I hope this child still can be a child and find redemption in play, joy and hope.

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Response to BanzaiBonnie (Reply #8)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:45 PM

11. Agree with you and the poster above you. He's a great kid.

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Response to polly7 (Original post)


Response to polly7 (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:22 PM

5. Give that kid an honorary Master's degree.

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Response to polly7 (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:26 PM

6. Multiply that time millions of people & it's not absurd at all. Too bad more Americans

don't think this way ...

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Response to patrice (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:44 PM

10. I agree. That kid is thinking far beyond that test score, really.

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Response to polly7 (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:30 PM

7. A sixth grader that knows perfectly how to puctuate? I don't believe it.

 

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Response to xtraxritical (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:50 PM

12. Yeah, I'm open to "maybe this is not quite what it looks like."

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Response to xtraxritical (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:01 PM

15. When I was twelve, I knew how to punctuate.

Also, this is written in Chinese characters, so whoever translated this may have cleaned up any errors for English.

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Response to polly7 (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:00 PM

13. I laughed! He carried the theme to a wonderfully absurd level.

It's a variation of "for want of a nail, the shoe was lost," only he took it to artistic extremes.

If he's a sixth grader (i.e. a 12-year-old) he could certainly have written this. I can't imagine a parent writing this for him, because it's so subversive. And parents in China are afraid of being subversive and hurting their kids' chances at a good grade.

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Response to polly7 (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:44 PM

16. essay PURPORTEDLY written by a sixth grader

Hmmmm...

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