Elsa and Xi (4) In A Democracy We Can Change Our Minds

Dear Xi:

Thank you so much for your reply. I was not expecting it.

Tomorrow is a great day for America. The nation gets to see a new president take office. We chose a different one because we disagreed with the direction Mr Trump was taking us in.

We didn’t like that he showed no inclination to bring us together as a nation. With him it was all about pleasing his supporters. But America is composed of many groups, all of which must learn to work together.

We didn’t like that he didn’t show competence in handling the pandemic.

We didn’t like that he tended to dismiss our longstanding allies, underestimating the work that had been patiently done over many decades.

We didn’t like that he got us out of the Paris Accord on climate change when the entire world is making efforts to stem global warming.

We didn’t like the way he was addressing our racial issues.

Xi, we could remove Mr Trump, because we have a democracy and the president is up for reelection every 4 years. And even if we liked a president, they wouldn’t be able to serve more than two terms.

Why do we do this? Because we know that human beings are fallible, all of us, and renewal is essential to our survival.

So, even if the Chinese like you a lot, they should have a right to hear other viewpoints and decide if you are the person to continue leading them forward.

There are so many examples of human beings’ propensity to think they own the truth. But truth about anything is hard to own. The search for it takes time and we must be open to hear other opinions.  

Science teaches us a great deal about this. To explain natural phenomena, scientists first come up with a theory. Then people set out to prove it. So long as research shows support for the theory then it is valid, but the moment new evidence is produced that disproves the theory, then the theory can no longer be supported and scientists have to come up with another one.

Science teaches us, then, that living with doubt is essential and so is the working to resolve it.

In a democracy, we can change our minds. In a democracy we accept that mistakes are part of growth and that we can rectify them.

This is why I was so disturbed when you decided to eliminate the limits on your presidency.

I understand that China has suffered from many invasions by foreign powers and that the Chinese people wish to affirm themselves in the world, but why should freedom of expression be sacrificed?

Just like inventions come up that help us do things better and more efficiently, so too with leaders. Others will come up who have a better idea to lead us forward.

To let the process work, we need freedom of speech. When speech is censored, those imposing the restriction are saying they are afraid of free thought and will use whatever force at their disposal to suppress it.

But that blocks the forward path of the nation.

Are you so afraid of what your people will think or say that you have to censor them?

To censor speech is to do to a mind what locking a child in a box will do to stunt their growth. The child will not have a chance to grow and when he or she is let out of the box their bodies will be deformed. It wasn’t so long ago, that some women in China had their feet bound to prevent their growth.

There is no justification to censor speech in a nation with the abundance of talent and creativity that China has. To do so is to stunt its development. To do is to deprive not only China of its possibilities, but the world’s as well.

Xi, you are now a respected leader. You have helped lead a nation to economic and military might. But the nation’s civic growth is just as important if it is to achieve a proper balance.

I am sure Confucius would agree.

The good news is that you can still change direction. We will all be most grateful. And in the eyes of the world you will have a very special place.

I look forward to hearing from you again,

Very best to you,


oscarvaldes.net oscarvaldes.medium.com oscar valdes@widehumr

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