While eating at the best ramen shop in Tokyo, we started up a conversation with the tall Chinese guy from our tour group. He is from Taiwan, and began asking my parents about the Cultural Revolution. I've heard the first part before, so was desensitized to it.
Tall Guy: How can you still stand the Communist Party after what happened in the Cultural Revolution?
Dad: It's past, done. The new government leaders came in afterwards, confessed all the mistakes, and made reparations.
TG: But what about the people who died? The ones who killed themselves from being tormented? Like the university professors who got dragged out of the schools and forced to wear a dunce cap and marched on the streets. The ones who suicided from the humiliation?
Dad: Well, if you kill yourself, there are no reparations. You have to endure.
TG: What about the ones who were sent to farms for manual labor, and died from illness?
Dad: Once you die, there are no reparations.
What was said next is what struck a soft but long-lasting jab to my heart.
TG: There are some things you can't recover. Nowadays, I see people getting so happy when they go overseas and find some ancient Chinese relic, bring it back as a "National Treasure". I think of all the relics that were burned, smashed during the Cultural Revolution. My grandmother, staying up all night with a fire, burning the old heirlooms. Large wooden chest [mimes opening a heavy hinged chest], taking out the ceramics inside, smashing them on the ground, in deathly fear that the Red Army was going to come and 抄家 (search the house). Ten years of the Red Army, burning, shattering relics. How many destroyed?