One World, One Dream

  • Would you like to attend the Beijing Olympics? Forget about it if you have a mental illness or HIV/AIDS. You won't be let in. The actual wording of the rule bars entry to those with "mental diseases" or contagious conditions. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness and didn't make it out of China's version of the DSM until 2001.

    Does the People's Republic of China government have something to be afraid of? It fears protests over the country's oil and arms trade with Sudan, for one. Oh, and the sticky little situation with Tibet. Do the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 come to your mind? The PRC estimates that a military crackdown on protestors led to 200-300 deaths and injuries, yet students and the Chinese Red Cross claim that to be 2,000-3,000.

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    Foreigners must register at the local police station within 24 hours of arriving if they are staying with Chinese residents in urban areas. The limit is 72 hours in rural areas.

    Lest you think only authoritarian governments discriminate freely, New Zealand prohibits people with mental illnesses from entering the country at any time. A friend who was thinking of vacationing with the Kiwis, called their embassy and this was confirmed. Yet people living in New Zealand who have mental illnesses are treated well.

    Ironically, the slogan of the Beijing Olympics is: "One World, One Dream." What was the Olympic committee thinking when it chose a country famed for human rights abuses as the host of the summer games? You need only speak out against the government, as activist Hu Jia did, to be sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

    The diagnosis: world leaders have their own kind of paranoia.  Chinese officials and others who label citizens as threats and attempt to coerce us into silence have gone too far.

    The larger issue is the idea of setting boundaries which a person can't cross. What if you wanted to travel and had earned the money to do so, yet were told you couldn't because you have a mental illness? Out of sight, out of mind seems to be the solution that such regimes have in dealing with unwanted populations.

    People with schizophrenia are librarians, executives, brothers, veterans and others. We are world travelers, too. To restrict our movement is wrong. If the only place we're expected to be at home is on the couch, that's chilling.

    Now, I'm not an athlete and have no interest in watching the Olympic Games, and I don't watch TV. So I'm going to boycott this in my own way. Years ago I knew a woman who refused to buy anything made in China because of the government's abuses. You could do that, and so could I, though I'm sure it's not practical to have zero tolerance for Chinese goods. Instead, you could see if that knick-knack from the ninety-nine cent store has a "made in china" sticker on it, and decide not to buy it. This is something I'm considering. I urge you to vote with your pocketbook on this one.

    It's a no-brainer that all eyes are on China for the wrong reasons now. Of course I see no just cause why people with mental illnesses couldn't travel in that country. I imagine a time when it truly is "One World, One Dream."



Published On: August 05, 2008