Sunday, June 07, 2009

Theirs is the banner

"Theirs is the banner in my hand. And I wish I had the power to tell them that the despair of their hearts was not to be final, and their night was not without hope. For the battle they lost can never be lost. For that which they died to save can never perish. Through all the darkness, through all the shame of which men are capable, the spirit of man will remain alive on this earth. It may sleep, but it will awaken. It may wear chains, but it will break through." 

~ Ayn Rand

A few days ago marked an important anniversary. I remember watching the news with my parents in the living-room, a young eight-year-old child trying to understand what was going on. I knew something frighteningly shameful was happening. Now, twenty years later, I still fear the idea of going to China to explore my roots. Could I love a country that did such horrific things to its people? But, I realize that it's not the country that did anything; it's government, it's people inflicting such pain on others, on their neighbours, on their visionaries, on their young, on the hopeful, on the dreamers.

A good friend of mine teaches adult literacy to new immigrants, some of whom came from China. One is an older man who was a professor in Beijing twenty years ago. He is a respected member of the class, and he has been telling his classmates the horrors he had witnessed in 1989. His classmates, those who were living in other parts of China at the time, had no clue what had happened. Theirs is an awakening, a call to spread the truth, to remember, to hope, and to act.

Visit the Boston Globe's picture blog for a moving photo-essay that says it all better than I ever can. 

In this age of the "great firewall of China," people are finding ways to tunnel through. Where there are walls, people shall find ways to find a crack, to get over, around, or through somehow.

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