Wealth or Health?


This is a sequel to my blog on the poem entitled “Ching Ming Festival” by Du Mu. It happened that I was talking to a good friend (let’s name her Mary) who happened to live in the home town of Du Mu – Taiyuan of Shanxi, China. For those who had helped me in the translation of the poem in Spanish, a few of them wondered what and where is “杏花村” named in the poem. In Chinese it is “Xin hua cun” and in English it is “apricot flower village”. According to Mary, historians had it that the village was somewhere in the Anhui Province, but she thought it was likely to be in her home province of “山西” Shanxi (literally means “mountain’s West”). Mary thought so because “Xing hua cun” is in Fen Yang(汾阳)city of the Shanxi province and the city is famous for “杏花村酒”(the wine named after the Xin hua cun).

I tried to be nice and made a comment to Mary that her hometown had to be very beautiful, otherwise, it would not have inspired Du Mu to write such a beautiful poem. Mary surprised me by saying that Shanxi is now polluted by the mining industry in the province. If you look up the link on Shanxi above, you will notice that Shanxi is one the most important mining producing centres in China. No wonder there is pollution. It seems that many miners died of related accidents too. I think Du Mu could never have imagined a scenario like this. What a pity that the ambiance of the environment has to give way to apparent prosperity.

I have a friend from Colombia (let’s call him Carlos),who informed me the other day that he did not have to attend classes at his university as there was a protest going on. As I understand from Carlos, the university was on the verge of going into bankruptcy as it did not get enough funding from the Government, which the lacked the funds. I informed Carlos that the Hong Kong Government does not have this kind of problem as we have large foreign exchange reserves. Carlos joked about coming to work in Hong Kong. I told him that he had to put up with the poor air quality here. Carlos informed me proudly that Colombia is one of cleanest country, in terms of air quality,in the world. I envy Colombia because the air quality in HOng Kong is getting worse and worse because of the air pollution blowing out from Mainland China. As a matter of fact. we are getting less and less number of “blue sky” days in Hong Kong in a year. This is just the price we have to pay for a better economy.

So I ask myself the question: Which is more important: Wealth or Healthy?

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