I have been thinking about all of our mornings at Starbucks and the conversations we have had about God and life.
I have been thinking about all the nights we laid in your bed and asked questions and talked about all of your dreams.
I have been thinking about all the hikes we have taken and how we talked about beauty and peace and contentment and joy.
Those are the most amazing moments I have ever had in my life.
I will never forget them as long as I live.
But while we have shared in so many special moments and had so many amazing conversations, in too many ways, I have been the stereotypical man, unable to fully open up and express my heart and my feelings to you.
So first let me say that, even though I tell you every night…
Yesterday, we returned from Taiwan back to Canada on EVA Airlines (a Taiwanese airline). I am glad to say that we received great customer service from their stewardesses and customer service reps on the ground. I was impressed with how EVA Airlines took care of us and treated us with respect. I would fly EVA again and recommend them to anyone flying international. They even offered to change the date/time of our return flight free-of-charge (provided their were available seats due to cancellation), and by the way, the food was good too.
I just saw in the news today about a passenger who had a disastrous experience with United Airlines. It was all over the news and on YouTube videos gone-viral. This paying passenger was violently forced off flight 3411 because they overbooked.
United Airlines needed to fly four of their own employees and needed passengers to give up their seats. No one volunteered when they offered $400 hotel voucher, which was then increased to $800 and still no one volunteered. Then they randomly picked four passengers to remove from the flight. This last one refused to leave. The passenger hadn’t done anything wrong but they treated him in an unbelievably disrespectful way.
United Airlines failed to plan, and handled this in a very disastrous way. First, this is not a criminal matter. It was their own fault of failing planning but yet, they brought in police who used force to remove a customer off the plane. Unbelievable! This customer was not a criminal. Police should only be involved if it’s a criminal matter. A very bad move by United Airlines. It showed disrespect toward this passenger who was a doctor and had patients to see the next day.
Second, they should have used persuasion. Customers can be persuaded to volunteer to give-up their seat. If they had offered a $1,500-2,000 cash credit for a flight of their choice to be used in the future, someone would have offered to volunteer… heck, I might even be tempted to. After this disaster, I think United Airlines will be losing millions of dollars in customer revenue–not just hundreds. I certainly would not fly United Airlines and I foresee many thousands will not be choosing to fly with United in the future. No one should be treated in this abhorrently disrespectful manner. Even if UA had a right to decline a passenger their flight, it should never treat any customer in such disrespectful manner.
Years ago, Air Canada messed up a flight my wife and I were on but I will always remember. The airline asked the entire plane who leave due to engine problems, and it happened twice in the same evening. It was way past midnight. The only thing Air Canada offered us later was a $250 voucher off a future flight, without an offer for hotel over night. It was a joke, and I was furious and chose not fly Air Canada for many years after that horrible incident.
Some say globalism is good; some say it’s bad for the local economy. It depends who is benefiting from globalism. What is happening in Taiwan is similar to what has happened in Japan. I remember there used to be a time in the 1980 when a lot of cheap goods in Canada were labelled: “Made in Taiwan.” The economy in Taiwan was booming with industry and factories were producing goods locally. Today, many of these factories have moved to mainland China (Giant, a bicycle maker; Tatung; Acer and Asus, computer makers, etc.).
The result: Taiwan is much different today from 30 years ago. The economy has slowed down. The dollar is weak and the younger generation has a tough time finding good jobs and they are leaving the country to find greener pasteurs. South Korea may experience this in its near future if it doesn’t make a change in its domestic and foreign trade policies.
My wife got into a conversation with a gardener who laments the situation Taiwan is in. He knows the opportunity existed for the older generation of Taiwanese but no longer exists for the younger generation. Some of the older is still supporting the younger generations who are living at home. Sad.
The only people who will benefit will be cheap laborers in China, and rich multinational and American corporations’ owners and shareholders; while American and Canadian laborers will suffer and remain jobless or have low-paying jobs with decreasing benefits. This is the reality today for many in Taiwan, and the coming reality for North Americans and the millennial generation in their 20s and 30s. This is a reality the global elite don’t want the common person to think too much about and to just quietly accept the status quo–of a statist or shinking service economy.
The solution is simple. Think “Taiwan first” and your own country first. America, Canada and other countries needs to do the same. What Taiwan needs to do to make this country stronger is something similar to what U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to do in America. Encourage your industries and factories to stay and/or move back to Taiwan so that your young Taiwanese generations can have jobs locally in the same country. Think about jobs for you, your family and your children’s children.
In Chinese culture, the finest art was present and used in emperors’ palaces. Some art were used to depict gods and deities for thousands of years, from dynasty to dynasty. I never knew how much I would enjoy Chinese art until I went to several museums in Taiwan like the National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taipei City (and a smaller local museum here in Changhua City). I saw some of the national treasures in the NPM that were moved by Chang Kai-Shek when he relocated the democratic national government and officials to Taiwan. There is so much art and culture here in this small island nation that my short experience here has increased my appreciation for my Chinese heritage.
I had the benefit of having a few English-speaking tour guides at the museums. They have been gracious in sharing their background knowledge of many pieces of artwork, and why they are appreciated by connaisseurs and collectors of art. The information they shared was what made my trip to the museum interesting. This has whet my appetite to see more Chinese art. Some can date back to even before Old Testament times (5000 BCE).
The Starbucks’ franchise system is a success here in Taiwan (vacationing here) but what disappoints me about Starbucks Corp. is how much it is charging for its coffee in a developing country. The owner of the multinational corporation claims it is practicing fair-trade coffee, but as I sit here at Starbucks to read and blog, I am noticing some of their hypocrisy. The purchasing power of Taiwanese people have decreased, but yet, it is charging customers here a premium for its coffee.
A cup of regular brew is 85/95 NT for a tall/grande, which is equivalent to US$ 2.80/3.12 (or Cdn$ 3.73/4.17). A fair price ought only be 50/60 NT (according to its U.S. currency equivalent). What does this mean? If an American customer in Taiwan were to buy a tall cup of Pike Place, s/he would have to pay an extra US$ 1.15 (or 35 NT). Is this outrageous or what?! Does this seem like a fair-trade practice to you?
Starbucks is taking advantage of its Taiwanese customers because it knows it can. People here worship almost anything made in America. The owner/founder Howard Shultz claims he practices fair-trade but what is practiced and preached just seems a little incongruent to me.
It also makes me wonder where else around the world is Starbucks taking advantage of people.
Wow. The stats from a study by Dr. John F. Helliwell reveals that married people are happier than single people (link here and source here). To be politically-sensitive, our first reaction might be that we should be quiet about this because it might irk a negative reaction from single people who are set on staying single and who will want to justify their singlehood. On the otherhand, this news (or old news) should be shouted from the housetops: that married life is to be celebrated.
People who are divorced may disagree with this though. Their experience of living together with a spouse in an unhappy marriage is subjective and very personal to them, and can be true because it’s based on their own personal experience.
This can pose another question for us to think about. What makes a happy marriage? Maybe we can go back to the bible on this one.
As ministers, missionaries, etc. who serve in church and Christian organizations we do work that’s supposed to be good for the mind and spirit…you know, stuff like reading the Bible, biblical commentaries, exegesis, sermon preparation, counselling, and other church-related work, etc. The work we do is related to spiritual health, but doing this to the exclusion of physical exercise is counter-productive.
As ministers and spiritual leaders, I think it is easy for us to make excuses because we rationalize that spiritual exercise is better than physical exercise. Out of convenience, we take 1 Timothy 4:7-9 out of context. Fact is, many of us are overweight. A better rationale is: physical exercise can extend the length and effectiveness of ministry.
Regular bible may be easy to start but most of know that it can be hard to maintain. Keeping up with reading the scriptures is one of the hardest things to do in our fast-paced life these days. I’ve found something that might be helpful for everyone. Setting the bible reading plan as your homepage. So when you get up in the morning to check your email or whatever, what is going to be the first thing to pop up on your browswer?… Yes, the bible.