Here’s a little quiz for the day. (I know. I said no testing. But that’s for the boys, not the grown ups.)
What do the following have in common:
The Opium Wars, Kublai Khan, Marco Polo, silk production, The Boxer Rebellion, and the explanation of why the lights come on when you flip the switch.
Did you guess that they all had something to do with China? Good guess. But wrong. The correct answer is: Things Tara knew nothing about before last week.
I still don’t understand the magic that happens at some plant far away and how that translates into a lit lightbulb. But that’s for another semester.
The rest were all part of Chinese history. A part I now realize that you really kind of need to understand if you want to understand China today. How is it that I have a gazillion degrees and know nothing about the world? I know I’ve asked that question here before, but I continue to be amazed at how bad my education was.
Did you know that back in the mid-1800s, England was in a dither because they kept buying everything from the Chinese – silk, tea, porcelain, and spices, (I wonder what they did with all of those spices? They don’t seem to have used them in their cooking.) But the Chinese had nothing they wanted to buy from the British. So the industrious Brits decided to get everyone in China hooked on opium from India to even out the trade imbalance. When the Chinese government banned the sale of opium, England went to war. Twice. And when they won, they made the Chinese sign a treaty that cost them several ports, the ability to ban opium, and Hong Kong. Sound like it might have some bearing on current events?
I could tell you stories if we had more time. Marco Polo? Amazing. Those kooky Khans? How did I not know about them? I’m sure that most of you did learn this stuff, but three of my history teachers were married to former students and I think they were too busy with their young brides to worry about stuff on the other side of the world.
Or maybe they just didn’t think the stories of war and betrayal and human frailty would go over well with the ladies.