Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Remembrance and Inspiration

Thanks to Al Barger for recalling the upcoming anniversary of the events at Tiananmen Square, in June 1989. Images

"...the Chinese military opened fire on a crowd of peaceful protesters in Tiananmen Square. They directly slaughtered hundreds of non-violent young people on live television just to make the point that they were in charge."

For years, I have drawn inspiration from the unfathomable courage of a few individuals in the face of one of human history's greatest oppression machines, the People's Republic of China.

I decorate my work space with very little. I have one picture of Ame, and one picture of Alex. That's it. In my old home in Cleveland, I hung in my office an enormous print of Stuart Franklin's breathtaking image of raw courage and integrity. Whenever I thought I had it rough, I forced myself to look at that image. It never failed to get me off it, and back into action. Unfortunately, the print is larger than any wall of my cube at work.

Goethe said, "To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking."

I bought the poster because, at the time, I was struggling with my implementation if my thinking. It had previously been enough to merely be a young capitalist. The time had come to become a public advocate for freedom in all areas of life, and I was terrified. I was certain I would end up gunned down. Patrick Henry nailed me to a post by my shorts.

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take but as for me; give me liberty or give me death!"

Fact is, it will probably never come to that. However, should it, I'll think of the man with the briefcase.

Everyone should get to see the full video of the man with the briefcase and a bag, because despite the power inherent in such an image, Stuart's photograph still suffers the constraints of the medium. The column of tanks rolled, and he, armed only with his integrity, blocked the column's advance. The tank driver attempted to move around the man. The man moved to block the tanks.


What a worthy project it would be to find the name of this man. Patrick Henry is a giant, and Goethe ranks, but this man showed the world how it is done, and should be recognized as a giant in our times. Future generations need to be able to know that giants lived in all eras of human history, who they were, and that they need not be philosophers.

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