Land Acknowledgment


I acknowledge the simplicity of the life philosophy in Suzhou that people choose to respect and cherish the rich resources from the land instead of using them for combat. The simplicity does not mean simplifying the process of treating the resources but seeing in-depth through the daily facts.

The superior geographical location and land resources have raised countless generations in Suzhou. As you can learn from the traditional Chinese Word “蘇州”, the composition of the word “蘇” means grass, fish, and rice. Thus, Suzhou has been called “the land of fish and rice”. The original Suzhou city was built as the capital of Wu Kingdom. Lately, Wu was defeated by Yue. Suzhou became the place where the kingdom was destroyed, and the king suicide. However, Suzhou people have never thought about fighting back. They rested themselves, focused on living the life, and humbly tolerated it all. Because of such self-satisfied living, with the respect to the gift of land, people never start a war for extra resources or expand territories but turn their eyes to enrich their inner world. They use their wisdom and diligence to make full use of these resources and do not choose to engage in political struggles. In the meantime, outlanders are attracted to here. In ancient times, politicians who were frustrated in the political competition came to Suzhou. As the quote said by the politician who built the Humble Administrator’s Garden, “Irrigating gardens and raising vegetables for daily meals are also a way for a humble person to manage administrative affairs.” Today, many people come to Suzhou to find a safe life. Suzhou embraced them all softly. The simplicity as the life philosophy has been passed through time.
Suzhou dialect, as a spoken language, which is a device to communicate, was born and developed under such life philosophy. Because Suzhou people seldomly travel outside, the Suzhou dialecthas never been spread widely which in turn makes it a unique language that connects to the land. The Suzhou dialect only counts on Suzhou people’s practice by generations to be passed. But in theuse of Suzhou dialect itself, Suzhou people have made great efforts to create the Kunqu Opera and the Pingtan that transform daily life into artworks. Meanwhile, since ancient times, many people come to Suzhou from other places, Suzhou dialect gently accommodates foreign accents, constantlyadapting to changes, but forming its own unique characteristics. Nowadays, with the popularity of Mandarin, Suzhou dialect is also adapting to Mandarin. There are more and more cases of using Suzhou dialect pronunciation to convert words from Mandarin.

However, due to the development of the Internet language, and schools all teach Mandarin, the language we use becomes a stereotype, fewer young people can speak the Suzhou dialect. Our thinking methods are becoming the same, we gradually lose the ability to speak the Suzhou dialect. The spirit of simplicity embedded in the Suzhou dialect is disappearing, and then we forget the gift the land offers us.

I hope that through this land acknowledgment, people's memory of the land can be wakened, and the spirit of simplicity will continue through the practice of speaking the Suzhou dialect.
Jiayi Wang
2/5/2022


Suzhou, Beijing, Providence