Ethnic grudges tie up resources
Ethnic grudges tie up resources

Last week, two notable incidents of violence occurred on the streets of Taipei -- famous political columnist Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒) was assaulted and a fire was set at the DPP's headquarters. Although these two incidents were unrelated, they both made people sense strongly that violence related to ethnic rivalry seems to be coming back. Compared to previous incidents, which usually occurred when tension between ethnic groups intensified around election time, these two new episodes of violence seem a little unusual.

No less worrisome is the escalation of the verbal violence to which lawmakers typically resort in order to gain the media's spotlight. Hidden under the protective umbrella of speech immunity, legislators often tread far beyond the bounds of reason and decency. Sometimes, this is only to retaliate for personal grudges or simply to oppose things for the sake of opposition. As a result, the people are not getting high-quality performance from lawmakers.

These physical and verbal incidents of violence simply perpetuate the "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" vicious cycle. Such conduct has become a model through which the ethnic groups and political parties oppose each other.

If incidents of violent behavior continue to be exhibited by the media and entertained on the floor of the legislature in ways that inflame ethnic tensions, it will be difficult for the next generation to follow the same path. Under the circumstances, how can anyone expect the culture and conduct of the next generation to become more refined? Being exposed to such a violent environment on a long term basis, it is doubtful that the next generation can become civilized members of the international community.

Taiwan has often been criticized as "an affluent but uncivilized society." The people here may have money, but they lack good manners. Nor do they do things the way civilized people do. Aside from the few intellectuals who are capable of introspective criticism, most people do not realize what Taiwan's problems are. So even the lawmakers continue to use retaliatory mentality and even carry on with the most primitive type of brutal jungle combat. This is a phenomenon that ought to be a source of great shame for Taiwanese.

However, no one can deny that ethnic rivalries continue to be the root of most of Taiwan's problems. After the change of ruling power, through which the rulers and the ruled exchanged roles, it was inevitable that conflict would take place. The group that came from China, which used to have a political monopoly, feels bitter about losing their clout. Influenced by a severe case of "victim mentality," they escalate the tension in order to protect their interests as a minority group. On the other hand, after the Taiwanese became their own masters, they did not forget the past oppression they suffered. A strong sense of vengefulness continues to dictate their behavior. As a result, the two sides became polarized.

Everyone knows that only time can close these wounds, and that it may take another generation or two before the inhabitants of this land can establish a common identity. But the ethnic and political rivalries taking place right now are consuming resources unnecessarily. In comparison with the rapid development of its surrounding neighbors, Taiwan's society is obviously regressing in this respect. If things continue this way, it is pointless to have any hope for the competitiveness of this country.

Wake up, people of Taiwan.