Mrs. Merrill, who helped me see that humans are good and bad at the same time

Mao Meeting Three Workers from the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario Canada, M5S 1A5,
Humans are full of contradictions. This is one lesson I started to learn very early in life from my family, where I saw how people I loved could be good and bad at the same time.

Mrs. Merrill, my 7th grade Core teacher, continued building on this lesson. Core was basically Humanities, a combination of literature, history, cultural studies, and a dash of linguistics. We spent half the school day with Mrs. Merrill, and she didn't waste any of it. I was in awe of her and wanted only to please her by doing my work.

She was my teacher during the Cold War, when anything Communist was the definition of evil. Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist Dictator whose rash economic policies caused famine and social upheaval, was feared and vilified by the American government. Typical of his policies was "The Great Leap Forward":

"Chairman Mao Zedong made a promise that Chinese steel production would soon surpass that of Great Britain and America. It was known as "The Great Leap Forward," and the massive focus on steel had catastrophic consequences as it diverted labor and millions died of starvation."

Advance Courageously Under the Guidance of the Red Flag of Mao Zedong Thought from the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario Canada, M5S 1A5,
Yet in spite of the many reasons she may have had to portray Mao as a heartless dictator, or to avoid studying him altogether, Mrs. Merrill showed us another side to Mao. The poems showed a sensitive soul, as in "Yellow Crane Tower":

Wide, wide flow the nine streams through the land,
Dark, dark threads the line from south to north.
Blurred in the thick haze of the misty rain
Tortoise and Snake hold the great river locked.
The yellow crane is gone, who knows whither?
Only this tower remains a haunt for visitors.
I pledge my wine to the surging torrent,
The tide of my heart swells with the waves.

Wuhan, Yellow Crane Tower by User:Vmenkov


Popular Posts