Wedding Pictures in an Earthquake

Another friend of mine, John Chaffee, who is a professor of Chinese Studies sent the following series of pictures that were sent to him by a Taiwanese friend. The friend was taking pictures of a young couple at the White Deer Chapel in Pengzhau, Sichuan when the earthquake struck. The photographer was able to keep his wits and capture these very dramatic images.

The Great Earthquake of Sichuan, May 12 2008

It happened when we were taking wedding pictures.

We were taking pictures for a new couple in White Deer Chapel in Pengzhou, Sichuan. Suddenly there was an enormous quake, and the hundred-year old church was wiped out in a split moment.

It is May 12. We were there to take wedding pictures. The session began at two and after only a few pictures were taken, the catastrophe struck. When we saw big chunks of stone falling off the church and the earth was shaking, we realized there was an earthquake. Knowing that there was no place to hide, we lay on our stomach and used hands to protect heads. It is the end of the world, I thought. Not courage, but the seeming loss of hope that, while crawling on the ground, I managed to raise my camera to take these pictures.

It was chokingly dark. all I could hear was the sound of falling buildings.

As the shaking came to an end and the dust began to settle, we all stood up to see what had happened, despondently horrified.

In a split second, the church that only recently celebrated its 100th anniversary became a pile of rubble.

We helped each other to stand up; looking around we could not believe what we saw.

2:41 in the afternoon of May 12. The camera recorded the time. Inset is the church before it fell.

We thought the quake was only limited to this area and tried to call for help.

There was no way that we could secure help and then there were continued aftershocks.

We started to retreat from the rubble. On the way all we saw were despondent scenes; the neighboring villages were severely damaged.

We and the villagers immediately started self-rescuing actions. Fortunately all 33 people taking pictures in the chapel were not hurt.

The fire that evening was the only consolation for the terrified visitors. We thank the hospitality of the kind villagers. Since the roads were all damaged we had to leave the car behind and walked home.

The Power of Nature

Gao Li Qiang sent another eye witness account – but not his own. This time it was a friend of his who went into the mountains after the earthquake to see what had happened there. Gao writes the commentary for the following pictures:

The following below pictures were not taken by me – they show another face that we do not see on TV.

 

This woman pointed to where she just finished her work in the field. On her way home, she saw something she would never forget. It took only one second and the whole village was buried.

She said there is always a chance for people to escape if there was one landslide but this was too sudden, no time for people to do anything to save their lives.

A local villager said this small stream was deep. Now the pile of earth is quite level and the plants don’t look demolished, everything looks that normal. But this pile of earth was not here before. The local villager said that the mountain was like “bombing out” and this earth was thrown here. There was blare coming from inside the earth and then the mountain spurted out red magma several decameters high!

With the eruption a large crack opened and the village fell directly into it.

A young witness said there were several houses still there and people came from the houses running directly to the river. Unfortunately all of them fell into the crevasse. Very soon another toneless blare came out of the earth and the crevice closed.

The trail on this small hill is new.  The valley was over 100 meters deep.  Now the valley has been filled up with soil. A village has been buried under it.

This was a large flat field of wheat. Now it is covered by one pile of earth that was blasted off the side of that mountain several kilometers away.

Villagers who have been living here since birth cannot find where their houses were located because the land has changed so tremendously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Folly of Force

Its not working. Never has, never will.

No amount of preaching and moralizing will force things to happen. Nor will the use of force when your preaching and “you shouldings” or even “let’s all” (Confucianism/communism) fails.

People, especially the rugged, open-air Tibetan nomads, don’t respond to the group-mind of the hypnotized.

Societies like the Chinese have functioned for centuries because of the power of its ability to socialize its members. By successfully promoting the idea that each individual is a separate creature with outwardly focused needs and functions, it makes the individual incapable of seeing that life is more than struggling for material needs and social rules. In this kind of society people do as they are told and force is sanctioned if people don’t. (Read Franz Kafta’s The Great Wall of China and for good measure, how about Alan Watts’ The Book – On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)

This kind of mental outlook is incapable of understanding the worldview of people who are still connected to the spiritual side of life; who are better balanced between their left-brain and right-brain; who see through the hallucination of separation (the divide and conquer mentality); who cultivate compassion as the highest value.

No wonder, then, that Chinese leadership – and the propagandized public – is having such a hard time comprehending what the Dalai Lama and hundreds of thousands of monks, nuns and ordinary people in Tibet really want. Fifty years of preaching and force have not changed the nature of the people who live surrounded by a landscape that inspires the soul to be in awe of the grandeur of life.

Mt. Yarla - the \"Kailash\" of Kham, eastern Tibet

For more background of the Chinese view of Tibet read Asia Times Online: Tibet a defining issue for China
by Francesco Sisci in Beijing.