A Tiny God without Knives and Guns
To the Children of Chenpeng Village
(scroll down for Chinese)
Beijing (CNN) -- Twenty-two primary school children were wounded in a knife attack Friday in central China, authorities said.
The attack took place at the entrance to the Chenpeng Village Primary School in Henan province, according to the public information department of Guangshan county, the area where the school is located. An adult was also wounded, it said.
Several of the children are in critical condition, the state-run website Chinanews.com said, citing local authorities.
Police say they have detained a suspect, a 36-year-old man from the village, state media reported.
Initial assessments suggest the man is mentally ill, Chinanews.com said, citing Guangshan authorities.
China was hit by a spate of knife and cleaver attacks that targeted school children in 2010.
A number of measures were introduced at the time, including increased security at schools across the country and a regulation requiring people to register with their national ID cards when buying large knives.
Dear Children of Chenpeng Village,
Greetings from your friends in different parts of the world. We are sending flowers to you.
We come from different nations: Ecuador, Rwanda, Canada, England, Iran, South Africa, Pakistan, Korea, France, and the United States. Many of us live in China, too. We don't have a common name, so just call us the JJB community.
I am writing from the United States. I am editor of the website, but I have lots of help. Several of my co-editors live in China.
Recently in the United States we have been mourning the deaths of twenty six people in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty of those who died were young children, just like you. They were killed by a young man with a big gun.
On almost the same day, you were attacked by a man with a knife. We know that some of you have been moved to a hospital far away.
We are very, very sorry that this happened. We hold you and your families in our prayers. From the photos we can tell that you are beautiful children. It doesn't really matter what you look like on the outside, you are beautiful on the inside, where it really counts.
The nurses who have taken care of you, and the family members who stay with you in the hospital each night -- they are beautiful, too. Through their hands and their hearts, you have experienced the most beautiful thing in life. It's not knives or guns. It is kindness.
Kindness is much more powerful than anything else in the world. It is like water running over rocks. Its strength is not in force but in love. It endures forever. Gradually it wears all hardness away. In your country the Taoists understood this. They compared the Tao to water.
It takes a quiet and tender heart to see love. Sometimes children like you can see it much more clearly than older people. Jesus said: "Blessed are the little children, for theirs is the kindgom of heaven." He understood the special sight that only children have.
Sometimes sad things get in the way of this seeing. You will always remember the man with the knife. He was sick inside his mind; we feel sorry for him, too. We do not hate him. In truth we don't hate anybody.
Sometimes it's hard not to hate. When people suffer a lot, it either makes people very bitter or very gentle. We hope that your wounds can help you become kinder and gentler. We hope that people in the United States will become kinder and gentler, too.
Where does kindness come from? We believe that, when kindness grows in a person's heart, it comes from a Big Love: 大爱. Some of us speak of this Big Love as God. What name do you use for the Big Love?
I know some Chinese who speak of it as Shangdi: 上帝. Whatever name you use is fine. The names don't matter so much; it's the feelings that count.
But please don't think of Shangdi as a big and powerful person who controls everything. God does not work with guns or knives.
What makes God big is that God is very, very small. God is very tiny, in each person's heart, as a capacity for love.
We have learned this from a woman from China who is a co-editor of JJB. Her name is Vivian Dong. She is a physics major who is going to be an engineer. She is very, very smart. She wrote an article for us on the tragedy in Nanking, and it is one of the most read articles on our website. She has helped me and others better understand God's tininess.
Some of us believe that the tiny god has a really big home, with space for lots and lots of people. We call it heaven. Heaven is wide like the sky. It covers the whole earth and even the whole universe, like a blanket of kindness.
You sees signs of heaven wherever there are small acts of kindness. You see it in the nurses and in your family members when they care for you.
In heaven there are lots and lots of angels. The children in America who were killed are angels in heaven now. They, too, hold you in their prayers.
Of course there adults are in heaven, too. They may have to grow into kindness, but they'll get there. The keys to heaven are kindness. All that people have to do is to knock on the doors of heaven and use these keys.
Of course, there are many Chinese in heaven. There's a story in the Bible about people speaking in different languages but all understanding each other because they were filled with love. Love is the deepest language there is, and it doesn't need words at all.
Sometimes love is better communicated with a hug, or the touch of a nurse holding your hand, or the eyes of a grandmother wishing you well. Even if it lasts for only a moment, it touches eternity.
Get a good night's sleep tonight. May your dreams be very sweet. May they blossom like the flowers, giving you the comfort and hope that you need to be happy and whole, moment by moment, forever.