The First Mile
One thousand days has past since the Ministry of Culture began its pioneering work in navigating the thick bushes and dense jungles of the nation's cultural sphere.
During these thousand days, we have resolved the Public Television Service's three-year impasse; established Taiwan's first Art Bank; laid the foundations for the creation of the National Performing Arts Center, the Taiwan Xiqu Center, and the National Photography Center; formulated or revised The Museums Act, The Underwater Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, The Motion Picture Act, and The Public Television Act; forged an international network for cultural diplomacy; and polished the nation'spolicies for the maturing audiovisual, film, and publishing sectors.
Even though the Ministry of Culture walked its first mile with extreme difficulty, we strode with boldness of spirit.
To be able to bow my head in sweat to serve my own country and people is the most glorious way to pay back my life. I want to thank President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Jiang Yi-huah for giving me the gracious opportunity to "stoop my head and work like cattle.” Although it is very difficult to grow flowers in a bed of cement, we can still see many tender green shoots drill through the ground to greet the brilliant sunshine.
Shrouded by an atmosphere of "no confidence,” we are in an era marked by a distinct lack of trust. What have supported me to move against the wind are many friends in cultural and business communities. They have put aside work to run for hundreds of policy consultations every month, serving as super volunteers for culture. After listening to my statements and ideas, many entrepreneurs have made donations to literature, motion pictures, art, and Taiwan's cultural diplomacy. Community workers have also rolled up their sleeves and taken me to visit every city, aboriginal tribe, and rural corner.
To the 453 colleagues who have worked side by side with me at the Ministry of Culture, the 2,000 public servants who have worked hard in communities, museums, and various sites to serve the people, and all my partners in the public service who have worked diligently despite blame and slander, I would like to say softly: "You have worked painstakingly hard, my dear.”
To the individuals who have severely criticized me during the past two years, I would like to say: "Thank you.” After all, criticism enables us to grow. But to those who knew very well how difficult our work is and often sent us a warm message of encouragement, I would like to say: "You have my gratitude.” Please offer public servants more encouragement, for they will blossom and work even harder for Taiwan's progress. For good thoughts attract good thoughts, and sunshine begets sunshine.
In the nine years that I resided in Hong Kong, I flew to Taiwan every other week to visit my mother in rural Pingtung. Now that she will be approaching her 90th birthday, I have decided to spend more time to accompany her in walking "the last mile” of her life.
There is only one first mile for the Ministry of Culture, and one final mile for my mother. Both are opportunities to repay my debt to this world that I cannot afford to miss.
With the fulfillment of the original intentions I held when accepting my appointment, I am filled with gratitude upon returning to a literati's quiet desk.
龍 應 台
December 1, 2014