Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Remembering Tiananmen Square and the "Tank Man"

THIRTY YEARS AGO today, following the ruthless crackdown of the protest movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and in other cities throughout China, we awoke to videoclips and various still photos that conveyed an iconic moment: one man standing against a column of tanks, then moving to remain in front of the lead tank as it tried to maneuver around him. 

Images and media told the whole world the story of a moment when one human person - with nothing but his own dignity and freedom - stood up to a whole century of monstrous institutionalized violence.

(No one knows who he was or what happened to him after he was taken away. There were many other unknown persons who were heroic during in those days, who also "disappeared." In China this image is still censored, as are all matters related to the Tiananmen Square movement and its bloody, brutal suppression on June 4, 1989. China's strange dictatorship remains in power today, a nominally "Communist" party-controlled State that presides over a booming materialist consumer economy. If nothing else, it is a fascist, nationalist, bureaucratic, invasive and controlling regime in which the higher freedom and dignity of human persons and communities are still frequently violated and threatened, or otherwise obscured and rendered precarious.) 

Though this man did not prevail against the tanks in Beijing, his courage spoke to the world, and especially to the hearts of millions of people in Central and Eastern Europe.

Thirty years ago, in June 1989, we had no idea how much the world was about to change.

Today, in 2019, with all of our new problems and the new forces that try to smash our humanity in perhaps more subtle ways, let's REMEMBER "THE TANK MAN." Let's honor his legacy with the courage of our own humanity.