Witnessing History

/ posted in: Current EventsReadingReligion

I just read Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman’s Fight for Freedom by Jennifer Zeng. The book is about the persecution of Chinese practitioners of Falun Gong, a Buddist offshoot that stresses Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. The Chinese government cracked down on Falun Gong as an “evil cult” and started arresting thousands of people. Jennifer Zeng was arrested 3 times for protesting her right to practice and spent a year in a labor camp where she was tortured.

My first thought when I picked up this book was that I didn’t really want to read it. I don’t do well with human injury so reading about torture isn’t high on my list of things to do. But I like reading about women’s history so I figured that I really should read this book.

I’m glad I did. I vaguely remember hearing reports about the Falun Gong arrests. In my mind they are mixed up with the cult in Japan that set off the sarin gas in the Tokyo subway. That would probably please the Chinese government. They spent a lot of time and effort trying to convince the world that Falun Gong is extremely dangerous.

The interesting thing about this story is the additude of the Falun Gong detainees. They try to live out their nonviolent creed in prison and end up affecting the “regular” inmates and some of the guards. They are easy to arrest because they believe in truthfulness at all times. So the people will come up to them on the street and ask if they practice Falun Gong and they say yes and are arrested. Not the smartest thing in the world to my cynical mind and that is fully addressed in the book.

My Ninth Wave studies for the month are focusing on ethics. This book definately got me thinking about that. I’ll try to formulate my thoughts over the next few days.

In the meantime I’ll be checking out ClearWisdom. Take a minute to click the link just because you can. This site is suppressed in China. Chinese people who know someone who can get around the censorship can post their stories about Falun Gong and the persecution. That takes bravery. Jennifer Zeng was arrested for the third time when a copy of a letter she wrote was posted on the site by someone who didn’t delete her name. After you click that take another moment to be thankful that you can post whatever you want on your own site and the only consequence may be some nasty comments.