Sun Yat-Sen His Life and Its Meaning: A Critical Biography

By Lyon Sharman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
The Future of Sun Yat-sen's Republic

I. THE PROBLEM OF A CHINA NOW CHANGED

IT would be difficult to imagine a boyhood and youth more completely interfused than was Sun Yat-sen's with the potent forces of change. Bred in the region most alive with foreign trade, caught in the flux and re-flux of overseas migration, educated from boyhood to manhood by foreigners, molded in impressionable years by the alien environments of Hawaii and Hongkong, converted by an American missionary, disciplined by Western scientific studies and socialized by the humanitarianism of medicine, Sun Yat-sen became what these forces made him.

It should not be forgotten, however, that in Sun Yat-sen's youth these influences were little reckoned with; some of them were working very obscurely. When Sun Yat-sen was a boy, China seemed the most unchangeable human unit in the world. In Western minds she was the very synonym of change-resistance. The world contemplated her immemorial traditions, her intensely racecentered egoism, her proud self-sufficiency, and her age-settled habits of thinking and acting, and wondered whether such a country could ever change. Perhaps it was our inner doubt as to whether change was possible to China that made us Occidentals so bold and so crass in urging changes upon her. It is easy to be reckless where one anticipates no result from one's daring. We realized neither the thing we were doing nor the scale on which we were doing it. Today the broad fact is written large upon the page of history and there it confronts us -- that we Occidentals, whether consciously or

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