價值鬆綁,民力奔放──社會五十年

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1999 / 10月

文‧李光真


國府遷台,帶來了全中國三十六省的軍民同胞。小島上有留戀日本文教薰陶的本省歐吉桑、有每天要唱一遍抗日「大刀歌」的山東老鄉;有白先勇筆下的上海流亡貴族,也有黃春明小說中潦倒度日的台灣羅漢腳憨欽仔。

台南擔仔麵、左宗棠雞和北京烤鴨並列在西式自助餐廳中,西藏喇嘛和媽祖娘娘同樣信徒眾多;東北人娶了澎湖姑娘,南腔北調共處半世紀;長江三峽和濁水溪一起滋潤著台灣人的想像……

歷史的悲劇,讓近半世紀的台灣社會,呈現人類史上少見的豐盛樣貌。然而曾經是壓抑、封閉的台灣社會,至今也還沒有釐清屬於自己的道路。台灣生命力躍躍勃動著,只待人們思索出一個方向……


「台灣社會的變化,可以用一個『快』字來總結,」中國人權協會理事長柴松林說,「尤其最近五年,幾乎等於過去五十年。」

瓦斯箱爆裂

早在民國六十九年就以「消費者文教基金會」開啟社運先河的柴松林,是台灣社會力勃發的帶領人和見證人。他創辦了台灣第一個文學社團(鍾理和文教基金會)、第一個智障者教養中心(第一兒童發展中心)、第一個環保團體(新環境基金會),如今又致力引進聯合國最新的人權觀念。然而,滿頭華髮的他自承,社會變的太快,「面對新事務,每個人都在摸索,沒有什麼人生經驗是足以傲人、可以世代相傳的。」

社會變化目不暇給,是因為意識型態的枷鎖鬆綁,可以任創意和點子隨手揮灑;民間豐沛的金錢、知識和閒暇,則為創意和點子提供了肥沃的土壤。這些在從前,都是難以想像的。

飛碟電台名主持人于美人記得,三十年前,金龍少棒隊爭取世界冠軍時,台北之夜幾乎沸騰。凌晨三點球賽終了,大街小巷的鞭炮聲綿延響起,小市民打開窗戶對著夜空大喊「中華民國萬歲!」總統蔣公的賀電也隨即拍出——「為國爭光,吾甚感欣慰」。流亡政權的屈辱、戒嚴社會的壓抑、困頓生活的挫折,使得當年的台灣社會如此易感,如此激動。

柴松林也記得,在冷氣尚未普及的七十年代初期,夏天的台灣男人實在是穿不住西裝的。「一穿就被汗浸濕了,家裡那麼一兩套西裝,實在禁不起洗,何況乾洗要花錢。」然而,西裝可以不穿,卻不能不帶,「走在街頭,每個男人左手腕上都搭著一件西裝,因為怕被人瞧不起,」遙想當年,柴松林不禁瞇起眼睛莞爾一笑。

旅歐多年,最近才應馬英九之邀,即將擔任台北市文化局局長的作家龍應台則在最新著作《百年思索》中,為當年自己點燃的「野火現象」做剖析。她指出,一九八○年代的台灣,是個「悶」著的瓦斯箱,而她的冷眼與利筆,則是一支無心的火柴,引爆了那個「有冤無處申、痛苦無處喊」、悶壞了的社會。

今天,民主、富裕、教育程度提高,台灣人民從內心煥發出自信,不必靠世界冠軍來證明國家的存在、不必靠彆扭的西裝來顯示自己的身份,甚至刻意的煽動也很難再撩起民眾的激情。年長的阿公阿媽聚在一起,談的是去日本賞雪、去美國看乖孫;年輕人可以為凱蒂貓徹夜排隊,但要他們認真思索國家社會的前景,很難。

團塊世代與新新人類

輕鬆、自信、多元中,困惑和衝突也隨處可見。新時代,需要怎樣的新價值觀?──家庭價值、工作價值、社會價值、人與人、人與大地、人民與政府……,這些疑惑,顯然比單純的物質飽足更難找到解決之道。

「日本人稱戰後出生的那一代為『團塊世代』、或者說是『螞蟻族』,這樣的形容用在台灣戰後的嬰兒潮也很貼切,」柴松林指出,團塊世代的生命期盼原來很單純:社會安定、家庭團聚、子女孝順、勤懇工作而能留有積蓄,其他的他們不去多想。然而社會多元化,加上價值觀的鬆綁,身為社會主力的嬰兒潮世代人士本身,也不免在社會潮流衝擊下,經歷了前所未有的觀念革命。

長期在教育界服務的王老先生,女兒留學多年,嫁了位老美。小夫妻結婚之初就打定主意當頂客族,讓抱孫心切的兩老震驚不已。最近女兒離婚,但仍選擇隻身留在美國。

「哎呀,時代不同了,年輕人心裡到底在想什麼,我們哪敢問!」王老先生喟嘆。

家庭價值解體,全球皆同,然而台灣獨特的,在於它的「快」。

柴松林指出,台灣的離婚率近年來快速竄升,目前已高居亞洲第一位,甚至高過許多西方國家。今年結婚的每四對中,就有一對將以離婚收場。無獨有偶,最近的一份調查指出,台灣青少女(十五至十九歲)的懷孕率高達千分之十七,比日本的千分之四高出數倍!進一步分析,台灣夫妻離婚的高危險群也在改變。以往的離婚高峰期,是婚後五到七年,離婚原因以男性外遇居多,是標準的「七年之癢」。然而現在離婚年齡卻朝兩極化發展,一是婚後一、兩年內,小兩口一旦發現個性不合,趁著沒有小孩拖累時趕緊分手。另一個顯著增加的則是老年夫妻,在忍受多年不愉快的婚姻之後,終於在兒女長大、無所牽掛後離婚。

「離婚的道德壓力減少,女性經濟自主,教育與資訊的發達,都使人們對婚姻的期望升高,對婚姻挫折的忍受力也大幅降低,」婚姻專家彭懷真在演講中指出。

家庭解構,社會壓力暴增

家庭解構,戶量(每戶人口數)縮小,現在台灣家戶平均人口已降到三人一戶,傳統的家庭功能幾乎瓦解。

「一直到我們上一代,家族都還具有很強的自給自足功能,偌大家族擠在一個四合院落裡,生病了,失業了,都能在家族的羽翼下獲得庇護,」正在苦心擘劃社會福利制度的台北縣副縣長林萬億指出。僅僅一代之隔,家庭的功能已經式微,現在的年輕夫婦什麼都要購買:坐月子要去坐月子中心,孩子要送去托兒所,老人要去安養院……,服務的價格昂貴難以負擔時,就吵著要由政府提供。

然而,有些服務是買不到、政府也無法提供的。近年來,自殺、弒父、殺妻、虐子的新聞充斥媒體版面,「不要小看家族提供的支援網和約束力,在心情焦躁浮動的關鍵時刻,它往往可以發揮安心的力量,托持一個人不要往下陷落,」林萬億說。

西方式個人主義快速崛起,家庭解體已是一個擋不住的趨勢,台灣由於缺乏足夠的時間來應變,情況格外令人擔心。

出生率降低,人口老化迅速,是台灣創下的另一項世界級超快記錄。

目前正在推動「國民年金」的經建會人力規劃處處長劉玉蘭提出警告,台灣目前有一百八十多萬老年人口(六十五歲以上),佔總人口百分之八•二;以一國之內老年人口增加一倍所需的時間來看,瑞典經歷了八十五年、美國六十年、日本二十四年,而台灣預計只要二十一年。人口結構的遽變,將對經濟、教育、社會,甚至國防等各個層面都帶來極大衝擊,必須嚴陣以待,「我們的經驗不夠,時間又太少,」劉玉蘭難掩焦慮地說。

家庭解構、人口老化之外,「二代勞工」的大量出現,更使得台灣的社會結構較以往脆弱許多。

柴松林指出,光復初期全民皆農,勞工總數還不到十萬人,工廠招人,幾乎都是農家子弟。在那種情況下,「有什麼了不起,工作做不下去,大不了回家種田!」的心態很普遍。

然而,民國五十年代開始,台灣逐漸邁入工業化之林,專業的「都市勞工」開始大量出現,他們賣掉鄉下土地、離開老宅、遷入都市,換句話說,他們是沒有退路的一群。這幾年勞資糾紛,失業員工用激烈的手段抗爭,臥軌、圍廠、埋鍋造飯,不光是現代勞工權利意識高漲,也是因為他們的處境的確比以前艱困。

針對社會結構的劇變,政府自七十年代開始逐步打造社會安全網,勞基法、全民健保、老人年金一一開辦,以往一直被視為會「養成好吃懶做惰性」的失業保險,也在今年(八十八年)初正式開辦。

社會改革曇花一現?

飛躍中的台灣,一方面,九百萬專業勞工聚集在高度都市化的城市中,面對的是全球競爭與資訊時代;另一方面,舊有農業社會價值觀和威權體制仍然殘存,新舊價值扞格不一。而始自七十年代,一連串的社會運動,則標示著社會力圖衝撞舊體制、建立新規則的努力。

「過去半世紀,台灣的發展隱約有軌跡可循:民國四、五十年代,政治力主導一切;其後二十年,不計一切代價發展經濟。七十年代末期,台灣才開始進入一個社會力解放、民眾參與的年代,」文化評論者平路分析。

從民國六十九年的消費者文教基金會,其後的婦女新知、勞工團結陣線、「五二○農運」、「無殼蝸牛」運動、「野百合學運」……,解嚴前後的台灣,開始有社運團體出現,帶動一波又一波的抗爭活動。

「以前大家以為只有政府有能力、有資源、有義務為公共事務作決策,現在發現,民間的力量更豐沛。民眾可以提出自己的理念,挑戰政府的決策,」柴松林指出。

讓許多人失望的是,社會運動在台灣並沒有醞釀出期盼中的改革力量。今年九月,無住屋組織重回忠孝東路夜宿,但參加者已從十年前的四萬人縮減為四千人。而盛極一時的婦女運動,在爭取到幾項立法成果後已失去著力點,反倒婦運的「好好愛自己」、「妳可以做到」等精神,竟被商業體系吸納,成了瘦身機構的廣告詞。

期待成熟社會

「從前威權體制下的台灣社會,從來沒有培養過自主機制,沒有善於自我反省的公民階層,沒有討論、思辯、批判的習慣,也缺乏對本土事務的關注,」平路輕柔的語氣中透著沉痛,「結果是威權箝制一旦鬆綁,資本主義很快地攫取住這個空檔,無孔不入地入侵。」

威權體制讓人不知如何思考,長年的經濟掛帥則讓民眾一切向「錢」看,「我買故我在」。然而,近幾年從事台灣人權運動的柴松林並不悲觀。

「你看現在的政治候選人哪一個不把『社會公義』掛在嘴邊?台灣離公義社會或許還有一段距離,但對人權的重視已經提昇很多,」柴松林指出,戒嚴時期根本談不上人權,反對運動者心目中的人權,也只侷限在「政治人權」上;甚至在十二年前柴松林創立「第一兒童發展中心」時,政府根本不承認智障是一種可以改善的殘障,更不認為那是政府的責任。

然而到了現在,不僅有政治上的「二二八事件」平反補償,有幫助慰安婦向日本索賠的組織,有憲法增修的原住民條款,連刑案受害者、車禍受害者、受虐婦女和兒童……,每一個人的人權都開始受到重視,這就是進步。

歐洲從英國制訂大憲章、民主乍現,到發展為成熟的公民社會,大約花了四百年時間,台灣雖然一切都「快」,但有些東西終究是無法速成的。

「以台灣社會深埋的豐富元素,以它的富裕和高教育程度,再給它一點時間,它會找到自己的路的……,」柴松林充滿信心說。

p.101

即使在最苦的年代,每逢民俗節日,信仰虔誠的民眾總要擺起滿桌供品,祭祀祖先及過往神靈,這種習俗至今不衰。(吳永順攝)

p.102

民國四、五十年代,顛沛流離的外省遷台人士常成單親家庭,也有些家庭因家計困頓,而把心肝寶貝送進育幼院。圖為台北義光育幼院一景。(黃伯驥攝)

p.103

還記得花蓮的紅葉少棒隊嗎?小小孩子以樹枝為球棒、以土塊為球,開啟了國內整整二十年的「三冠王」狂熱。(中國時報資料照片)

p.104

這麼多「不良少年」乖乖伏地趴著,可見當年警察的權威。本圖攝於民國五十年代。(中央社提供)

p.105

民國六十八年,全球第一對三肢坐骨連體男嬰的分割手術,是台灣民眾集體記憶中極為深刻的一章。如今這對連體嬰忠仁、忠義已安度二十二歲生日,並均已找到工作。(中國時報資料照片)

p.106

十年前發動萬人夜宿台北市忠孝東路的「無住屋者團結組織」,是民國七十年代社會力奔放的一個代表團體。(中國時報資料照片)

p.107

以大愛之心創建「人間佛教、慈悲濟世」的證嚴法師,多年來的聞聲救苦、發心救災,已蜚聲國際。總是藍衫一襲的慈濟人,彰顯著民間的溫暖與活力。(邱瑞金攝)

A.人口增加為2.8倍:人口數(千人)

1949/7869

1989/20,107

1999/22,008

B.高齡化社會來臨:65歲以上老人佔總人口比例(%)

1951/2.45

1961/2.49

1971/3.03

1981/4.41

1991/6.52

1997/8.1

1998/8.2

C.離婚比例上揚:粗離婚率(對/千人)

1951/0.5

1961/0.41

1971/0.36

1981/0.83

1991/1.38

1997/1.81

1998/2

1999/2.15

D.女性平均壽命高於男性(歲)

1951/56.33

1961/66.76

1971/72.08

1981/74.64

1991/77.15

1997/77.81

1998/77.94

1951/53.38

1961/62.3

1971/67.19

1981/69.74

1991/71.83

1997/71.93

1998/72.02

E.失業率起伏不定(%)

1951/4.52

1961/4.1

1971/1.66

1981/1.36

1991/1.51

1997/2.72

1998/2.69

F.犯罪問題不容忽視:暴力犯罪發生率(件/十萬人)

1981/19.8

1984/23.4

1990/49.4

1995/77.7

1996/78.7

1997/63.1

1998/58.1

G-1.每人每年糧食可供消費量(公斤)

米飯愈吃愈少

1952/126.06

1981/96.54

1991/62.50

1996/58.84

1997/58.40

G-2.每人每年糧食可供消費量(公斤)

水果愈吃愈多

1952/16.81

1981/80.51

1991/138.69

1996/138.83

1997/150.08

A-F項資料來源:中華民國經社觀察表/行政院主計處

G項資料來源:87年農業統計要覽/行政院農委會)

(Basic Agricultural Statistics, 1998)

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Chai, who as early as 1980 blazed the trail of Taiwanese social activism with the Consumers' Foundation, is both a leader of Taiwanese society and a witness to its growing power. He created Taipei's first literary society (the Li-Ho Chung Memorial Museum), the first care center for the mentally challenged (Taipei First Children's Development Center) and the first environmental group (the New Environment Foundation). Recently he has introduced the United Nations' newest perspectives on human rights. Nevertheless, Chai, whose head of white hair reveals his years, admits he feels that society is changing too fast. "Everyone is groping in the dark as we face new situations. We don't have any kind of life experience that's worth being proud of, that we can pass on to the next generation."

The astoundingly diverse changes in society are due to the loosening of ideological shackles, which has given free reign to creativity and thought. The abundance of wealth, knowledge and leisure among the people has provided fertile ground for inspiration and ideas. This would have been difficult to imagine in the past.

Well-known UFO radio host Yu Mei-jen recalls that 30 years ago, when the Taiwanese Little League baseball team the Dragons won the world championship, the Taipei night nearly boiled over. When the game finished at 3 a.m., the streets of the city erupted with the constant banging of firecrackers, as ordinary citizens opened their windows and yelled out to the night sky, "Long live the Republic of China!" President Chiang Kai-shek immediately dispatched a congratulatory telegraph: "You have won glory for the nation, and I am greatly delighted." The humiliation of being unrecognized as a part of the international community, the repressiveness of martial law, and the frustrations of a fatiguing life had built up emotions in Taiwanese society to a boiling point.

Taiwanese felt unsure of themselves in all aspects of life. Chai Sung-lin recollects that in the early 1980s, when air conditioning was still uncommon, Taiwanese men couldn't bear to keep their suit coats on during the summer. "As soon as you put it on, you were soaked with sweat. With only one or two suits at home, you couldn't avoid getting them cleaned, which ran up quite a bill at the dry cleaner's." Therefore, it became acceptable not to wear a blazer, but unthinkable to leave home without one. "When you walked down the street, every male you'd meet had a coat draped over his wrist, because they were afraid other people would look down on them." Thinking back on those days, Chai can't help narrowing his eyes into a contented smile.

In her newest book Centenary Reflections, author Lung Ying-tai, who lived in Europe for many years and has recently returned to Taiwan at the request of Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou to serve as director of the Taipei City Cultural Council Planning Office, offers insight into the "wildfire phenomenon" that she sparked a decade ago. She describes Taiwan in the 1980s as a gas oven with the pressure building inside, and her appraising eye and sharp pen as a match that unintentionally set off an explosion in the island's stifled society, which had "grievances but no place to seek justice, pain but nowhere to call out."

Today, with democracy, prosperity and a high level of education, the people of Taiwan radiate an inner sense of confidence. They do not need a world championship to prove the existence of their country, nor do they need a clumsy blazer to display their own status. Even direct provocation barely incites the passion of people. Old ladies and gents would rather chat about traveling to see the snow in Japan, or visiting the grandkids in America, while young people stay up all night in a queue to buy Hello Kitty dolls. Getting them to reflect upon the prospects of society is no easy task.

A tale of two generations

Amidst the leisure, confidence and pluralism, there are also feelings of bewilderment and conflict. What kind of new values are needed for this new era? Family values, work values, social values; person-to-person, individual-to-environment, citizen-to-government-it is evidently more difficult to resolve these questions than to satisfy purely material needs.

"The Japanese call the people born after the war the 'bee generation' or the 'ant people.' That's a very accurate description of Taiwan's post-war baby boomers too," says Chai Sung-lin. When they were younger, the bee generation had very simple expectations in life: social stability, family togetherness, filial piety from their children, diligence at work and the chance to set some savings away. They didn't consider anything beyond that. Yet as society grew more free and diverse, the baby boomers, who represented the dominant force in society, couldn't help but undergo their own revolution in consciousness.

The elderly Mr. Wang, who enjoyed a long career in academia, has a daughter who went to school abroad for many years, and married an American. In her early years of marriage, she made up her mind not to have children, shocking her own parents, who had their hearts set on grandkids. Recently, she divorced but chose to stay in America by herself, and she never even came back to Taiwan to discuss the matter with them.

"Ah! The two generations are so different," Mr. Wang sighs. "Just what are young people thinking? We don't even dare ask!"

Family values have broken down all over the world. What makes Taiwan unique is the swiftness with which this has occurred.

Chai Sung-lin observes that Taiwan's divorce rate has skyrocketed in recent years. Currently, it is the highest rate in Asia, and even surpasses many Western countries. Today, nearly one out of four marriages ends in divorce. Similarly, one recent survey indicated that the pregnancy rate among Taiwanese girls aged 15-19 stands at 1.7%, several times as high as Japan's 0.4%.

A closer analysis reveals that the profile of the typical Taiwanese couple getting a divorce is shifting. In the past, the peak period of divorce was five to seven years after marriage, the most frequent reason being infidelity on the part of the husband-the standard "seven-year itch." Now divorcing couples are polarizing into two different types. The first are those married only a year or two who discover their personalities are incompatible and hurriedly part ways while they are still not burdened with children. The other major group is older couples, who, having suffered through a long and unhappy marriage, finally divorce after their children have grown and constraints have been removed.

Marriage expert Peng Huai-chen commented in a seminar, "The moral restraints on divorce have decreased; women have become economically autonomous; education and information are flourishing. All these things have heightened people's expectations about marriage and dramatically decreased their tolerance for marital frustrations."

Dissolving family, exploding society

The structure of the extended family has broken down as the size of households has shrunk. Currently, the number of people in the average Taiwanese household has dropped to 3.4, and the traditional functions of the family have nearly ceased.

"When today's older generation was young, extended families still had the ability to look after themselves. If a big clan lived in a traditional compound centered around their own courtyard, anyone that was sick or out of work could recuperate under the protective wings of the extended family," says Taipei County deputy chief Lin Wan-yi, who is currently planning the county's social welfare system. Within a single generation, the functions of the family declined greatly. Today, young married couples prefer to buy everything: When a mother bears a child and takes the traditional month of rest, she does it in a special center. Children are sent to day-care schools. Elders are sent to rest homes. . . . When the cost of services becomes too great, people cry for the government to provide them.

Nevertheless, some kinds of services can't be bought, nor can the government provide them. In recent years, suicide, patricide, wife killing and child abuse have filled the headlines. "Don't underestimate the support network and the restraining capacity that an extended family provides," says Lin. "During critical moments of anxiety and emotional unsteadiness, it can often exert a tranquilizing force, holding onto a person so that he doesn't fall down."

Yet with the rapid rise of individualism, the dissolution of the traditional family is inevitable. Because Taiwan has had insufficient time to respond, the situation is exceptionally worrisome.

The drop in the birth rate and the pace at which the population is aging are other speed records for Taiwan.

Liu Yu-lan, director of Manpower Planning Development at the Council for Economic Planning and Development, which has recently proposed a pension fund plan, offers a warning: Taiwan now has more than 1.8 million senior citizens (65 years and above), accounting for 8.5% of the population. It took Sweden 85 years for the elderly population to double. In the United States, it took 60 years, and in Japan, 24. For Taiwan, it needed a mere 21 years. The shift in population structure is having a tremendous impact upon various levels of society, including the economy, education, and even national defense. This requires a high degree of preparedness. Revealing her anxiety, Liu remarks, "We don't have enough experience, and time is too short."

Aside from the breakdown of the family structure and the aging of the population, a throng of second-generation urban workers have made their appearance, making Taiwan's social structure even more fragile than in times past.

Chai Sung-lin points out that in the era following World War II, Taiwan was still an agrarian society. The total number of industrial workers was less than 100,000. Almost all the people that found work in factories were the sons or daughters of farmers. In that situation, it was common to have the attitude of, "No big deal-if this job doesn't pan out, I can always go home and work the fields."

But by the early 1960s, Taiwan gradually moved into full-on industrialization, and professional "urban workers" began to appear on a mass scale. They sold off their land in the country, left their old homes, and moved to the city. In other words, they became people without an escape route. Recent years have seen disputes arising between labor and management and laid-off workers taking extreme measures of protest, such as lying down on railroad tracks and picketing factories. They carry out these actions not only because of an increase in labor rights consciousness, but also because their prospects have undeniably dimmed.

Confronted with this transformation in society, the government began in the 1980s to create a social safety net. Step by step, national health insurance, retirement pensions, and other measures were initiated. Unemployment insurance, once seen as "something that breeds greed and sloth," was also formally unveiled at the beginning of 1999.

Social reform a flash in the pan?

As Taiwan changes by leaps and bounds, the nine million workers concentrated in its major urban areas are confronted with global competition and the information age, yet at the same time the old values and authoritarian system of agricultural society persist. Old and new values conflict. The string of social movements that began in the 1980s indicate a collision between social empowerment and the old system, as well as the determined effort of society to establish a new set of rules.

Just prior to the suspension of martial law, many social activist groups started to crop up, and in their wake, wave upon wave of protest movements. First came the Consumers' Foundation in 1980, followed by such groups as the Awakening Foundation, the Taiwan Labour Front, the May 20th farmers' movement, Snails Without Shells (which worked to reduce housing costs), and the Wild Lily movement (which sought to end political restrictions on college campuses).

"In the past, everyone believed that only the government had the ability, the resources and the duty to handle public affairs. Now we've discovered that the people have more power than we thought. Ordinary people can present their own ideas and challenge government decisions."

Looking forward to a mature society

"Formerly, Taiwan under its authoritarian political system never cultivated mechanisms to encourage autonomy. It lacked a civil society given to self-reflection. It wasn't in the habit of discussing, deliberating and making judgments, and it lacked a concern for local affairs." Ping Lu's soft, moderate tone reveals an undercurrent of hurt. "Then as soon as authoritarian rule was relaxed, capitalism rushed in to fill the vacuum, moving into every nook and cranny."

Because of authoritarianism, people didn't know how to deliberate, and the many years in which economics dominated national life caused the populace to focus their gaze strictly on the dollar sign: "I buy, therefore I am." Nevertheless, Chai Sung-lin, who has been active in recent years supporting human rights in Taiwan, is not pessimistic.

"Which political candidate doesn't wave the banner of 'social justice'? Maybe Taiwanese society has a way to go before it achieves a just society, but much greater attention is already being placed on human rights," says Chai. No one was even allowed to broach the subject of human rights during the period of martial law, and though it was a cherished goal of activists, their efforts were limited to the political realm. Even 12 years ago, when Chai founded the Taipei First Children's Development Center, the government simply did not concede that mental retardation was a handicap which could be improved, let alone that doing so was the government's responsibility.

Today not only has the government made restitution for the February 28th Incident (an event in 1947, in which newly arrived KMT forces massacred Taiwanese), but organizations have also formed to help "comfort women" gain compensation from Japan, the constitution has been amended to recognize the rights of indigenous people, and crime victims are now allowed compensation in civil suits. From victims of car accidents to battered wives and children, the rights of every individual are being respected. This is an improvement.

From the signing of England's Magna Carta to the first stirrings of democracy, to the growth of a mature participatory civic society, it took Europe 400 years. Although Taiwan has transformed extremely rapidly, some things cannot be accomplished on the fast track.

Chai Sung-lin affirms: "There are such abundant resources buried deep in Taiwanese society. With its prosperity and high level of education, give it a little time, and it will find its own way."

p.101

Even during the hardest of times, on every folk holiday the devout people of Taiwan always packed a table with offerings to show reverence to their ancestors and the spirits. These traditions continue to the present day. (photo by Wu Yung-shun)

p.102

During the 1950s and 60s, there were many single-parent families among the destitute refugees from mainla and China. Some families ended up in such dire financial straits that they had to place their beloved children in orphanages. The photo shows a scene from the Yikuang orphanage in Taipei. (photo by Huang Po-chi)

p.103

Do you still remember Hualien's Red Leaf little league baseball team? These little tykes that used sticks as bats and rocks as balls began Taiwan's "triple champion" little league craze that spanned a full 20 years. (courtesy of the China Times Information Center)

p.104

These "delinquent youths" obediently prostrating themselves clearly show the authority of the police in days gone by. The photo was taken during the 1960s. (courtesy of the Central News Agency)

p.105

The world's first successful surgical separation of male Siamese twins, in 1979, is one of the most memorable chapters in the collective memory of the Taiwanese people. The boys had been joined at the pelvis. Today the two twins Chung-jen and Chung-yi have already celebrated their 22nd birthday, and both have entered the work force. (courtesy of the China Times Information Center)

p.106

The Association for the Homeless, which ten years ago mobilized tens of thousands of people to camp out on Taipei City's Chunghsiao East Road, set the tone for the 1980s, when social activism was at its height.

p.107

With a loving commitment to "bringing Buddhism to the people and compassion to the world," the nun Chengyen is now well known throughout the world for her long years of assistance to the disadvantaged and victims of calamity. In their blue uniforms, the members of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation exemplify the warmth and vitality of the people. (photo by Diago Chiu)

A. Population increases by a factor of 2.8 (Unit: 1000)

1949/7869

1989/20,107

1999/22,008

B. Proportion of senior citizens in total population rises sharply (Unit: % of population over 65)

1951/2.45

1961/2.49

1971/3.03

1981/4.41

1991/6.52

1997/8.1

1998/8.2

C. Divorce rate climbs

(figures show crude divorce rate in couples per thousand):

1951/0.5

1961/0.41

1971/0.36

1981/0.83

1991/1.38

1997/1.81

1998/2

1999/2.15

D. Sharp increase in life expectancy

wemen

1951/56.33

1961/66.76

1971/72.08

1981/74.64

1991/77.15

1997/77.81

1998/77.94

men

1951/53.38

1961/62.3

1971/67.19

1981/69.74

1991/71.83

1997/71.93

1998/72.02

E. Unemployment rate varies over time

1951/4.52

1961/4.1

1971/1.66

1981/1.36

1991/1.51

1997/2.72

1998/2.69

F. Crime rate causes concern (figures show violent crimes per 100,000 people)

1981/19.8

1984/23.4

1990/49.4

1995/77.7

1996/78.7

1997/63.1

1998/58.1

G-1. Per capita annual rice consumption (kilos)

1952/126.06

1981/96.54

1991/62.50

1996/58.84

1997/58.40

G-2. Per capita annual fruit consumption (kilos)

1952/16.81

1981/80.51

1991/138.69

1996/138.83

1997/150.08

Sources: Items A-F from the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics, ROC Socio-Economic Indicators; Item G from the Council of Agriculture, Basic Agricultural Statistics, 1998)

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