dimanche, juin 15, 2008

Angel Ye

A few nights ago, my son and I were lying on my bed in the dark. The storm that had brought trees and wires down in our town was heading east, leaving us without power. As sometimes happens when he is tired, on the verge of falling asleep, C rifled through his mental Rolodex, sharing ideas on topics as different as the NBA playoff games, what was going on in the final days of this school semester, and the challenge of being a kid in a planet where the climate is warming.

Our planet is in peril , and there's not a lot us kids can do, Mom, he said. We don't drive cars.

It's not solely children who feel helpless. A lot of adults don't feel like they can do much about global warming or the war in Iraq or poverty. But they can do more than they think.

Mr. Ye in Sichuan province, is a great example of what one man can do if he is tenacious.

A fiftyish guy with a bit of a middle-aged spread, Ye looks very ordinary.

Yet this former teacher is probably responsible for saving the lives of thousands of children in his school. Impelled by his desire to keep his students safe, he pestered the authorities for money to do the things that would make the walls and balconies more secure (see link). When the earthquake brought down many schools, killing thousands of students, his school survived. No one was lost.

It must have taken a lot of time and stubborness to wring money from the provincial bureaucrats. Such an ordinary thing-how tedious to write officials and fill out forms. Sometimes it is in these ways that heroes are created.

Apparently some students call the principal "angel Ye."

I must tell Mr C about him-a common man of uncommon valor.

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