Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obama Inauguration China Style

Like so many Americans, we felt the excitement of the inauguration. We’d signed up with Facebook to watch the event on the internet. Midnight arrived and we tried getting a reliable feed, but the computer kept freezing. Not wanting to miss this historic moment, we called Janet Segal in Newton, MA. Thankfully, Janet was home, so she propped her Mac computer in front of their TV in Newton and we turned on ichat between our computers. Voila! We were watching the inauguration on Janet and Neal’s TV back in our home town. It was 1 am in the morning in Beijing and the darkness and quiet drew us even more into the moment. Witnessing this peaceful transition of power, which is one of the US’s greatest contributions to the world, was breathtaking.

While we had many conversations about the election in November, very few Chinese mentioned the actual inauguration. We suspect that most folks are not used to this lag time between selecting a leader and taking office. China is used to quick implementation of policy changes. With the stroke of a pen they can often quickly implement policy both small (tell cars to stay off the road one day a week) and large (order families to have 1 child). Our Democracy is slower, with intentional roadblocks built into our decision-making. We are more like a cumbersome ocean-liner, changing courses slowly.

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