Story 1 - Lianhua.
"Yes, the empires still exist," said Mei-seong. "Many have faded away and new ones have taken their place to fade away in turn, and wars are still being fought and they are evermore horrible wars, but the spirit of humanity has not been extinguished in the shadow of thousands of years of war against it. So it is that the woman Lianhua lives on, and her spirit and wisdom has become a force in the world that proved to be greater than the forces of all the empires of all times combined. She has become a giant, even while she remains as but a gentle rose."
Here our story teller, Mei-seong paused. She explained that the story of Lianhua is our story, the story of our family, of our humanity, the humanity of mankind's humanity. "Lianhua's constitution is our constitution," said Mei-seong, "a constitution which has stood the test of time before we found it, that has proven its value in every case where it uplifted society to the brightness that made it the most precious jewel that society has, or can possibly have. It has proven itself to be the strongest force that has been created on the face of the earth. It has withstood the onslaught of empires, the might of dynasties, the ravishing of Rome, the Inquisitions of the holy bigots who have murdered Joan of Arc, but who could not vanquish her spirit of humanity. This spirit has lived through all times. It has withstood wars, and nazism and communism, and it will withstand today's feudalism, today's looting capitalism, terrorism, fascism, and global imperialism. Each one of these scourges has been invented by the empires as a new attempt to invade humanity and vanquish its spirit, to extinguish the light of our most precious jewel, the light of our humanity. But that light still shines on. And it will shine on and grow brighter until it becomes the light of the world, because it embodies the truth, and as Lianhua has said, it embodies the most perfect wisdom.
"Therefore, shall we not honor each other as bearers of this light? What else is there, but this? In this honoring, we become partakers of infinity. We become partakers of all that is good and beautiful in this world and is immortal. And we shall say to ourselves that this universe is ours, and the truth is ours, whereby we transform our mortal life into an aspect of immortality. In this we live on, never to be defeated, just as the spirit of Lianhua still lives on by us and will live on for evermore."
There was no applause after the story was completed, even though Mei-seong had told it most beautifully. Perhaps it was so because of that. Everyone simply remained silent for what appeared to be a long while. Eventually Sylvia put the kettle on for tea and Steve started the engines again to resume our journey to the North-West corner of Poyang Hu where we would dock once again in the shadow of Lu Mountain.