It takes a lot for me to shed tears. But today I wept for a stranger whom I met for less than 30 seconds.
The man I cried over was no heart throb or brilliant artist. Rather, he was a slightly humpbacked man in a holey white shirt and dirt-stained flip-flops. Standing in front of the National Taiwan University Hospital, his sun slashed face had deep despair oozing from the crevices of his wrinkles. His brownish callous hands, shaking, were holding an oversized manila envelope.
At first, I walked past him without a second thought. But each step I walked away from him, my heart wanted to take two steps back toward to him.
“Hey, is everything ok?” I asked in Taiwanese, thinking the man would just ignore me and find me a nuance.
But to my surprise, he answered.
“Wife dying and I have no money,” he said with a quiver while looking up to the sky as if he believed saying it out loud would somehow persuade Hades to spare his wife.
It was me that was lost for words. Come on, what do you say to a mere stranger whose wife was dying and had no money to pay for the medical bill? Unless I had a million dollar to give to him or the touch of Nurse Nightingale to heal his beloved, it seemed like nothing I said would have been appropriate.
Looking at the man, I couldn’t help but to wonder why, in a country like developed country Taiwan, do we still people who see death as their only option when faced with a complicated disease? Why would anybody be concerned about not having enough money for medical care?
As I was walking towards the foreign ministry, my eyes fell upon a shiny well-polished black Mercedes Benz with a foreign country flag sticking out by its right headlight glistening under the sun. Inside the multi-milion NT-dollar machine, sat a Taiwanese chauffer.
Then another thought popped in my head…what if instead of giving foreign diplomats outrageous expensive cars (yes, plural) and lavish mansions, why not give them functional normal-priced cars and inject that money into the cash-strapped National Health Insurance Bureau or the struggling charities? Why keep showering the corrupted governments with gold bars when we have people who beg to go behind bars because that’s their only guarantee for a decent meal? The disparity is heartbreaking, and frankly disgusting.
Next to the foreign ministry is the Presidential Office in which sits a man whom I helped to get elected. Yes, I voted for Ma Ying-jeou…but now I see how delusional and demented I was to think he would be the man to bring tranquility and peace to Taiwan. Little did I know he defines the word “peace” as sans justice, equality, dignity, and freedom. At the moment in Taiwan, the delight of a few is established upon the despair and disappointment of millions…Ma, do you hear the indignation of the people, or are the lies of Beijing so deafening that you have lost the ability to listen?