“First her feet were plunged into hot water, and her toenails clipped short.”*
A 10th century court dancer, Yao Yang, mesmerized China’s Emperor Li Yu by dancing on her toes inside a 6-foot golden lotus. Yao Yang bound her feet into the shape of a new moon. Emperor Li Yu smitten with Yang, the national fetish is unleashed. Miniature, misshapen feet become a status symbol the wealthy embrace.
“Then the feet were massaged and oiled before all the toes, except the big toes, were broken and bound flat against the sole, making a triangle shape. Next, her arch was strained as the foot was bend double. Finally, the feet were bound in place using a silk strip measuring ten feet long and two inches wide. These wrappings were briefly removed every two days to prevent blood and pus infecting the foot.”
Then tortuously reapplied. By her mother.
A child’s marriage prospects expand as her feet shrink. The child’s mother, aunt and/or wet-nurse ignore the cries, pleas for mercy. In a culture controlled by men, it is evident their daughter’s future prospects multiply with each inch of growth averted.
“Sometimes excess flesh was cut away or encouraged to rot.”
“The girls were forced to walk long distances in order to hasten the breaking of their arches.”
The torturous process took two years. When complete the girl was, more than likely, 8 years old.
“Over time the soles were crushed together.”
We look back seven centuries and feel nauseas. The culprits simply identified.
Men. Mothers. Ruling Class. Society.
The Emperor who let his erotic fantasy disease his homeland. Yao Yong the erotic dancer who helped cripple China’s children.
One thousand years women brutally subjugated themselves to society’s torture. Where is God when centuries of 6 year old girls are crying in China?
Did God go to sleep, go on vacation for a Millennium?
Come on, God!
I think about it. What should God have done? Strike Yao Yong before she meets the Emperor? Erase her from existence. Wipe out Emperor Li Yu before he feels the stroke of Ms. Yong’s feet? Block the hand of every woman that binds her child’s toes? Create a famine which leads to a shortage of binding materials, strikes all but a few good men?
When should He start?
More importantly, when should He stop?
Stop the binding of the small girl’s feet, but let the murder of baby girls follow in civilized society centuries later? When society dictates only 1 child per household and boys are preferred. Should He just step into China and say enough is enough.
What rules do we want Him to follow? Hey, God. What are you even doing? You’re better than this. What is going on?
Free will. My mind draws the parallel.
It is the same. Here all these centuries later.
A gift. Precious.
Free will and consequence. A marriage we comprehend. We choose our actions, or they are chosen for us. There are consequences. Even for actions that were taken for us when we were too small to make our own choices; when we are powerless. We touch a hot stove with our hand, our fingers are burned. We get it. We understand.
Yet, the child born addicted to heroin because her mother is an addict. We blame God. Where exactly should He have stepped in? At what point is the mother’s free will void.
Slavery, Hitler, 911, cancer, disease, incest, rape – we blame God. When does the gift of free will stop and He gets to intervene?
Free will, we want it. We demand it. We will do what we want to do, and no one can stop us. It is our right.
Actually, it is how we are created. We know nothing different. Yet, we don’t want the repercussions. When we err, we want the magic wand. Erase the repercussions. A magician enhancing the ride when our path is straight; teleporting us out of the road when the one we chose to wander is dangerous, deadly.
“Once a foot had been crushed and bound the shape could not be reversed without a woman undergoing the same pain all over again.” Some damage irreparable, the foot never the same……..Placed side by side, the shoes were the length of my iPhone and less than half-inch wider.”
Consequence. Theoretically, we recognize the concept. Practically, we don’t appreciate it very much.
We blame God. It’s a whole lot easier.
Romans 5:2 Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
*quotes taken from Bound by Tradition, Amanda Foreman, Siberian Tigers, Smithsonian Magazine, February 2016.