Sunday, May 31, 2009

Courage in the face of June 4

My very very good friend, A, said, “As intellectuals, shouldn’t we have the courage to stand up for our beliefs?” I couldn’t agree more. She was referring to something else when she made the statement. But I believe the statement applies also to our attitude towards June 4, 1989. And it is true not only of intellectuals, but all human beings.

Twenty years ago, a terrible crime was committed against a large number of essentially peaceful protesters, many of whom were students, in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Most people who have access to the information had made that assessment at the time, attested by newspapers, marches, personal actions, statements, and the like.

Gradually, however, many people change their stands, because of interests in business, power, status, security, and other considerations. That’s a common human weakness. And it is precisely because this weakness is all too common, that the courage to stand up for our beliefs is so precious.

Some may consider it to be quixote, to insist on righting a wrong committed 20 years ago, by an overwhelming and resolute power. But perhaps we human beings are human because we are not always so calculating and pragmatic? That we are willing to make sacrifices for what we believe in?

I am going to attend the candlelight vigil with my wife. My daughter, who was born after 1989, is attending with her friends. My friend A is going. My friend G is going with her friends. My former student C is coming back from Singapore to attend. I have many more friends who will be there. ... Let us all stand up and be counted this June 4.

This photo was taken in 2007. Will you be in this year’s photo?


Anonymous said...

Everytime I read the recount of what happened twenty years ago, I could not control my tears. Yes, I want to be counted on 4 June this year and I have persuaded my husband to join me.
Martin Lee, when interviewed about the attempted but failed assassination of him said that as Christian, he is not so concerned about his life on earth but the eternal life after this. How very well said! Ann

StephenC said...

Agreed, whole-hearted-ly.

I do not criticize people for not going because there are all kinds of good reasons for not going.

But each person who goes is making a statement. And I am really glad that you are going - and all my other friends who will be there as well.

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