Translation: “Inexplicably Made Happy”

Here are the results of a recent survey that has been passed around in China; “The Happiest Professions in the Eyes of the People.” (It’s not clear how many people participated.)

  1. Public servants
  2. Government officials
  3. Teachers
  4. Artists
  5. Executives
  6. Self-employed
  7. Bankers
  8. Actors
  9. Pilots
  10. Entrepreneurs

(The list goes on from there, but the first couple are really all that’s relevant here).

From Southern Weekend, “Inexplicably Made Happy” ((This title uses a Chinese construction that’s tough to translate sometimes; the use of 被 in front of a verb to indicate someone is being forced to do something, or that the government is saying someone is doing something they actually aren’t. Here, it’s 被幸福, the implication being that the subject has been decreed to be happy even though they actually aren’t.)):

Recently a survey called “The Happiest Professions in the Eyes of the People” has been being passed around. I couldn’t help but feel curious when I saw it. Government officials are public servants, so how did “public servants” and “government officials” get the number one and number two spots on the list?

I also couldn’t help but think of my classmate Ah Fan, who holds a provincial-level official position making 2,600 RMB a month [$412]. Ah Fan hasn’t experienced the so-called high life [of officials]. High housing prices have forced his whole family to squeeze into a shantytown. The guy renting the place next door dropped out of middle school and went to work making doors and windows of aluminim alloy; he makes 8,000 RMB a month [$1,269]. The comparison horrifies Ah Fan, but the neighbor is very respectful of Ah Fan and often tells his children that Ah Fan is a role model. This only deepens Ah Fan’s sense of guilt; he doesn’t dare admit his real salary to the neighbor.

What is happiness? Some say it’s having enough not to worry about material life, and lacking burdens so you can enjoy a spiritual life. How can Ah Fan, who hasn’t achieved either of these, become a happy person?

Housekeeping announcement: I’m getting sick of my own opinions, and I get the impression some of you are getting sick of reading them too, so no more. We’re going back to basics; from now on ChinaGeeks will just be translations, with maybe a little analysis from time to time. I will also be cross-posting future articles here so that people have a place to comment on them if they want.

Speaking of 2Non, we need your help to and support to continue producing these articles and to continue paying for film festival applications for Living with Dead Hearts. Everybody says they want content like this, so if you like what we’re doing, please show your support with a tax-deductible donation.

4 thoughts on “Translation: “Inexplicably Made Happy””

  1. Sorry to hear you’re not posting opinion pieces anymore. Hell, the internet is nothing without opinion. Most importantly, I guess people would like to know your opinion on the subtext of this piece – that Ah Fan does not appear to be sharing his co-worker’s perceived “happiness”.


  2. China opinion blogs are like dinosaurs now, on the verge of extinction. I, too, get tired of my own posts. Your insights and opinions, however, will be sorely missed.


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