27 January 2005
volume XXVII No. 19
At the east end of Sid Smith sits a painting of woman being brutally tortured by Chinese government officials. She is being beaten and injected with syringes, but sits still. No sign of resistance is apparent from her face, just pain. On the far-east end of the globe, a woman sits in a prison and endures similar torture for her belief and practices of Falun Gong.
For the past two weeks, Xiao "Michael" Nan Zeng has spent his days at the display handing out pamphlets and [talking about] the benefits of Falun Gong ( also called Falun Dafa). Besides informing people of the benefits this form of meditation offers, Michael has a message which hits closer to home. The woman in the painting is more than just a symbol of a tyrannical communist government denying freedoms to its citizens, the woman is his mother.
In 1999, Falun Gong was banned by the communist government in China because then-president Jiang Zemin saw it as a threat to his power. Those who have continued to practice it have been imprisoned, sent to labor camps, tortured, and over 1,600 have been killed.
Back home in China, Zeng's mother sits in a psychatric hospital where he says she is injected with mind altering substances and tortured daily for refusing to denounce her practice.
[...Zeng's mother could not ...] escape an 8-year sentence imposed by the government. Michael's days are now committed to informing people of the benefits of Falun Gong while trying to get as many people as possible to support the movement against anti-Falun Gong laws in China.
More surprising than Michael's commitment to saving his mother, is his and others' commitment to the peaceful teachings of Falun Gong.
When asked if it angered her that the Communist Party of Canada regularly sets up a table endorsing communism in the very building she was displaying the atrocities imposed by a tyrannical communist government, Falun Gong practitioner Wendy Guo said: "I think people have the right to think whatever it is they want, but before they believe just use their head and think about what kind of person they want to be."
What kind of people do we want to be? Before talking with Michael and Wendy I thought I wanted to be a writer who could use others' misfortune to denounce communism.
After speaking with Michael and Wendy, I took another look at the painting which had only moments before enraged me with its graphic depiction of torture. Now, peaceful images of sunlight and children which only moments before I had been blind to, now seemed to dominate the piece.
The calm look on the woman's face no longer seemed to represent pain, but rather, the ideals of Falun Gong: Truthfulness, Forbearance, and Compassion.
Their message goes beyond superficial political biases and so should our efforts to help. To find out more on the Falun Gong movement and ways you can help visit www.flgjustice.org.
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