Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A personal reflection on Tiananmen Square

Twenty years ago today I listened in horror to a radio broadcast of Chinese tanks beginning their massacre of some 3,000 or more fellow students. Was it really happening? I was just ten days away from graduating high school, and I very clearly remember being in awe of these students in Tiananmen square. I was trying to imagine what it would be like to really believe that it was worth risking your life for a political cause. How could they behave this way when they had their whole future ahead of them? It dawned on me that perhaps they felt like, unless they did this, they had no future. Or no future worth living in.

I came to realize later that these events in China had a profound effect on me, because that was when I first really began thinking about what it would mean for something to be worth dying for. This was my context for understanding when I saw an old interview with Martin Luther King Jr. who said that if a man hasn't found what he is willing to die for, he does not know what to live for.

This had other consequences. I admit it seems ironic to some, but I think I could not have later become a Christian if I had not begun at some point in my political and philosohpical thinking to ponder it would mean to give one's life for a cause. The passion is meaningless - the way Mel Gibson's movie was meaningless - if there is not appreciation for what John says: No greater love hath a man than this, to lay down his life for his friends.

In some ways, 1989 was bookended by moments that resonated strongly with me. At the end of the year, there was the Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia, where a million people crowded into Vaclav square and the government fled without firing a shot. The Berlin wall was taken down. All without a shot being fired. But more amazing was the adrenaline rushing through the people of Eastern Europe who, though one might have thought them for so long crushed in spirit, were taking their future into their own hands in this dramatic way. I like to say that I believe in miracles because I saw them on the streets of Prague. History is a long series of slow causes and processes. But sometimes in human history there are moments when it is as if the world stops and the sun totters on its axis. We saw several of them in 1989. 9/11 was another such moment.

Obviously this is only very remotely related to what happened in China. That's kind of my point too. We can only see events through our own eyes. I'm not really asking for comments on this post, although you are free to make them. Just thought I'd share a bit about the moments that shaped me politically and philosophically. The Tiananmen square massacre was one of them.

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