As an iconoclast, I found these ceremonies silly and scary. Silly, since worshipping another human being is degrading and is insult to the intelligence of an individual. I found not much difference between the worshipped and the worshipper, except the false inferiority feelings created in the minds of the subordinated people. For Pharaoh to be Pharaoh there must have been those who accepted humiliation and slavery. The astronomical power and charisma of celebrity or a leader does not originate from his or her own extraordinary powers, but depends on the illusion of inferiority created in the minds of celebrity worshippers. The idol carvers, be of political or commercial, fabricate, solicit, propagate and orchestrate popular emotions. Emotions of inferiority generate brand loyalty, adoration, admiration, money, and power for the celebrities and their entourage. It is a vicious and self-perpetuating cycle. The fame, money and power in turn, generate more emotions of inferiority that seeks affiliation with a more superior power to balance the comparative inferiority.
I also found the offering of flowers to the concrete resemblance of a dead leader scary. In fact, hero worship or human worship is the source of the many atrocities committed in the history of humanity. Those who idolize their religious or political leaders become fanatic dogmatic that do not hesitate to destroy others. Since their unity and cause is not based on reason, but on emotions, they are easily manipulated by corrupt and power-hungry politicians and their accomplice religious leaders. Thus, you end up with superhuman celebrities like Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Hitler, Khomeini, Atatürk and many others. Whether those celebrities were agents of peace or war, justice or injustice, their intoxicated worshipers are prone to commit all kinds of stupid and destructive acts. Sure, the biggest damage is caused by the worshippers of religious and political heroes, their ideologies, and symbols.
There I wondered the meaning of 5 stars in Chinese flag, one being bigger than the others. I learned that the larger star represents the leadership of the Communist Party and the small stars represent the four classes of people united by Mao: Workers, Peasants, Petty Bourgeoisie (Small Business Class), and National Bourgeoisie (Chinese non-governmental businessmen). There are few other interpretations and according to Wikipedia article, the most popular one is "the four stars represent the four occupations central to the state, which are Farmers, Workers, Soldiers, and Teachers."
America, the Beautiful Country
The day before our last day, I joined the two-hour Chinese language and culture class together with our 18 students. The teacher used a computer, projection machine and a big screen for the presentation. In that class I learned the Chinese for the word China and America:
China: Zhōng guó (Center/Middle Country or In Country)
America: Měi guó (Beautiful Country)
(Ooops! That means, I learned more than just two Chinese words). I could not believe my ears. The billion plus Chinese people calls our country BEATIFUL! Isn't this a sign of cultural courage and openness! Imagine us calling Russia, France, Korea or Iran with the same name! "The leader of Beautiful Country Ahmadinajad condemned the US occupation and atrocities in Iraq!" Wouldn't be much better to separate countries from the governments? I just wonder how the Chinese leaders and people condemned the American government when our relation became tenuous and even hostile, such as after our bombing their embassy in Belgrade in 2000.
As most Americans do not behave like the U.S. Government does, most Chinese too do not resemble their government. For instance, we generally prefer, at least in theory, the Golden Rule, while our current government prefers the iron rule, or pre-emptive strike. While the Chinese government is authoritarian, Chinese people are friendly, and even submissive.