When you come to the end of your rope,
tie a knot and hang on.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
This story begins with an all too familiar ring: A developer has plans to build something grand, buys out all the homes, and a community disappears. Back in 2004, down in the southwestern corner of China, in a city named Chongqing, a developer bought out 280 local homeowners to build a mall. The developer had bought all the necessary homes except for one, that of the couple Wu Ping and Yang Wu.
The couple refused countless offers. “I’m not stubborn or unruly,” Wu told the state-run Legal Daily. “I’m just trying to protect my personal rights as a citizen.” The confident developer continued with the project as planned, waiting for the couple to give in. Soon the Wu’s were cut off from electricity and water. Their home became a lone island in a 10-meter deep pit. Mr. Wu carved a make-shift staircase from the bottom of the pit and flew the Chinese flag from his rooftop. He stayed to protect the home while Mrs. Wu conducted press conferences and sent him supplies, such as water, food, and quilts, via rope and pulley.
The Housing Authority declared their demands to be “unreasonable.” They tried to order the house to be demolished, but with 85% public support the local court declined to support the demolition. For three years the Wu’s stood their ground, until China passed a landmark law protecting private property. They then moved to an apartment of equal size downtown. Knowing of the momentous impact of their perseverance, they lived happily ever after.
It can seem daunting fighting against “The Man.” When big companies control every aspect of industry and sneak their fingers to grasp government, we shouldn’t allow them to dictate the quality of our life. We shouldn’t allow big developers to pave over our communities; Walmarts to close local businesses; or big industries to poison our environment and food. Every aspect of media banks on a good story, the underdog, David vs Goliath, and perseverance, but in our daily life we too often opt for ignorant bliss.