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Thứ Sáu, 20 tháng 3, 2015

Impressions Made On Me By My First Visit to a Big Town*

This article was written before Spring 1961 by Chapman.

I vividly recall my first visit, as a boy of twelve, to a big town. I had hardly been outside the confines of the village where I was born and I had met and talked to no more than a few hundred people; but those few hundred  I knew very well …When I reached the town that I mentioned, I was first overcome by the striking change from the slow and quiet life I had been used to. Surely those swiftly moving vehicles must inevitably collide with each  other – or with us – at any moment, and those tall buildings collapse and crush us all! But I soon forgot those fears and began to notice something even more amazing – the crowds of  people on the pavements who were hurrying past each other without a smile. It gradually dawned on me that not only were they not interested in one another; they were strangers, and apparently  quite content to remain so. It was the lack of friendliness among them, which most deeply distressed me.

I know that if we are to profit from the innumerable mechanical inventions of this scientific age, it is necessary for us to live together in large communities. We are thus enabled to provide and enjoy material benefits which are rarely available in small villages – such a amenities as good sanitation, cheap transport, well-stocked shop – and in addition the very fact of our living together in large numbers make it possible for us to live a richer social and cultural life . . .When I think of those crowded pavements and of those thousands of people hurrying to and fro apparently with no thought for others, I cannot help wondering whether the so-called benefits of civilization in a mechanical age are not being purchased at too high price.

Tran, van Dien, Complete English Essay Course, Saigon: Song Moi, 1961, p.106