ZHANG QIANG: My father died a few years ago. When he had been dead for about a year, I wanted to go to my hometown to burn some paper money for him. The night before I went, I dreamed that my father and my uncle – my father’s elder brother – were sitting on my bed. My father had his back turned towards me. He told me to be kind to my mother.
    I thought a lot about this dream. There is a Chinese saying: “Bad deeds, as well as good ones, may rebound upon the doer.” I was with my father when he died. I saw him dying with my own eyes. It only lasted three minutes. At that moment I understood that we should cherish our lives because life is precious. There may be only three minutes between life and death. I thought: “Why can’t we treat our parents better while they are still alive?”
    Some time ago we went on strike for higher wages. That made me think about many things. We should act with kindness and treat people much better, for example, we should help our colleagues if they need help, or give a beggar some money. It doesn’t matter if he’s a real beggar or a false one. Now there are many professional beggars, you know. But as long as I do what my heart tells me to do, I do the right thing. Song Chuyu, the Taiwanese politician, said that “God is above your head”. That’s why we should treat everybody with kindness and do what is right. There is another saying: “A good conscience is a soft pillow”.
    Life is precious. A man’s life lasts only a few dozen years and it may be over within three minutes. So we should spend every minute in happiness and not waste our time.
    I’ve been working here for about eight years and I’ve seen many unsatisfactory things: greedy bosses, no payment for overtime, no paid vacation. My opinion is that we should face these problems with a clear mind and strive to be better than those people. I think it’s good to have a clear conscience.
    I’m from the province of Henan. I came here because I heard that this was a better place with good jobs and no overtime. Then, when I arrived here, I found that we had to work every day and that working time was more than 8 hours per day. Sometimes we only have a half-hour break at noon. But after my father died, I cared much less about these things. If you don’t have the right attitude, you’ll feel depressed every day. You need to see things from a bit of a distance. One thing I do, for example, is count how many things I have to do today and try to find the best way of doing them so as not to waste time. I came here in 1999. If I had to sum up those 10 years in one sentence, I would say that even a house made of gold or silver doesn’t compare to my own home. If you are in a place, which is not your home, then no matter how wealthy and prosperous that place is, it will never be better than the place you call “home”. But now that I’ve chosen to work outside of my hometown, I should at least be earning some money. At the end of May, we went on strike for better wages. In the end, both sides made some concessions.
    I don’t want to continue working for other people in the long run, so I’d like to save some money and try to build up my own business. I think there’s no future in working for others.