Freedom of Speech: American Style
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Horrors of the Cultural Revolution
"Power of Compassion" is a web site that features beautiful, professional photographs of the faces of some Tibetan refugees. Art is being used to push another presentation without full disclosure about what had happened had been across China, not just in Tibet. There are faces unseen, and voiced unheard that flowed into my mind as I read the photo captions...
"Like hundreds of children every year, they said good-bye to their parents not knowing if they would ever see them again."
My mother did not see her parents since she escaped the mainland China to Taiwan at the age of 19. All of her friends, whom I called Uncles an Aunts, though they had all left their homeland at the ages of 18 or 19, suffered the same fate. For years, they had no idea whether their parents and family lived or died. I grew up in a strange world in Taiwan, where it seemed that everyone around me was in that boat. All around me, there were voices saying, "I don't think I'll see my parents ever again."
"Palden was arrested at his monastery in 1959 and spent twenty-four years in prison, where he was tortured frequently - losing twenty teeth in one beating."
Just the other day, I read an account in the World Journal by a Chinese American woman from the mainland China on what happened to her 70-year old mother. Her grandfather was known to have had won a scholastic contest. During the Cultural Revolution, in a movement to destroy traditional values, her mother's hair was shaved bald. The 70-year old woman was struck repeatedly on her back with a belt while being marched down a street. She showed no anger, but took the treatment quietly. She was marched away. The next time the writer saw her mother, the mother was dead.
The Compassion site has another caption:
"As a young girl she escaped across the Tibet-India border with her family after word reached their remote nomad camp that they would be forced to live in a commune."
I remember visiting two brothers, who were friends of my mother's when I was little. They lived in an attic. We had to climb up a hole in the floor of the center of the attic to get to them. The clearing between the floor of the attic and the ceiling was about three feet. They had escaped from the mainland China with nothing but their clothes.
More caption for another poor Tibetan:
"Samdu was stricken with a crippling malady known as "big bone disease" when she was five. Even though she does her best to help care for this rapeseed field, she has to be carried everywhere by her friends. This arthritis-like disease, which only afflicts children, is virtually unknown outside her village."
Behind our house in Taiwan were two neighbors. One built a shack out of tin boards and bamboo, using one of our walls as the anchor for his shack. He lived there with his wife and two daughters. At night we could hear them cry. The other neighbor lived in a one-room house, with a chamber pot in the center of their room for potty, with their 8 children. The wife did her cooking outdoors, fanning newspaper each afternoon to start a coal cylinder.
One year, one of their kids caught polio. All the kids in our alley were evacuated as the parents panicked. That boy lived, but was forever crippled. I can still see him struggling across our muddy alley, dragging one leg behind him. He was about 5 years old.
"Botok and Tsangpa were classified as wealthy by the Communist authorities in 1962 because they owned almost a thousand sheep and goats. Threatened with imprisonment, they fled across the boarder."
In the World Journal, there was an article written by a Chinese American writer that started with: "My son will not eat chicken. Even though chicken is cheap and good in the U.S., and he's a 30-year-old man, he will not touch chicken." She went on to tell the reason why. There was a time food was so scarce on the mainland China, her family tried to raise 4 little chicks. They had nothing but chopped up grass or chopped up leftover vegetables to feed the chicks. Over one cold night, 3 out of 4 chicks died. The remaining one lived, and grew into a good hen that produced an egg a day. The hen helped the family with one egg a day for two years. Not only that, the hen was friendly toward the family; she would peck rice bits from their hands, and her little son loved the hen as a pet.
One day, they were told by an official that owning the chicken could mean trouble, and may mean prison or persecution. In fear, she killed the hen. Her son was so saddened, he still won't touch chicken till this day.
Since I subscribe to the World Journal, an overseas Chinese newspaper, I see and read stories like this almost every week. I know the pain of my native countrymen. But despite it all, they were people who got along well in a multiple ethnic culture.
My mother's friend who lived on the attic spoke perfect Peking dialect. He was able to apply his painting skills and made wooden signs with the word "Fortune" on it for people to hang up on the Chinese New Year. Eventually, he made a business for himself. Our other neighbor, a Manchurian family who gave us lamb soup, used to serve in the Nationalist army. We had shared much good times. I hope the Chinese people will rise from their sufferings, and stay whole, and not be divided down the ethnicity.
I speak this as a Mongolian Chinese whose parents' escape helped me to avoid much atrocity.
As I saw this "Power of Compassion" site, my eyes began to fill with tears as I thought of how the rest of the Chinese people had suffered, and yet they are portrayed by the Tibet Independence movement as invaders.
Once upon a time I had imagined the Dalai Lama would tell the world about the sufferings of the Chinese people. Now I know it is not happening, and it probably never will. This brings me to tears.
I have come to forgive a lot of what had happened. Despite that the Nationalist government in Taiwan tried to brainwash us in school about how horrible the "commie bandits" were, I was able to reason things out for myself. Once, someone wistfully told me she had 7 servants and lived in a 4-story house when she'd been on the mainland; I feel I see how the mass of the peasants all over the mainland China must have suffered, working as servants. A woman also told me the one thing she despised about her own parents was how they had bought a 16-year-old country girl to be his "mistress". Things like this remind me of a Tibetan ex-serf Tashi Tsering's story of how as a 10-year-old he became tax for his village, and as a teenager he had to accommodate sexually to a monk.
There is no school system that can fool people with real life experiences. I can see what is the truth, what are lies. It's my view now that the poor peasants, millions of them, including many Tibetans, went on a rampage to correct what they deemed to be wrong. Their lack of education and vision only made their attempt into atrocities.
I forgive their atrocities, because I can imagine the pain they had gone through long ago. Many other Chinese people have forgiven them.
I'm saddened a bit that web sites such as this compassion site, with beautiful photography, contribute to elicit compassion for the exiled Tibetans alone, and showcase them as "the victim" of "the Chinese". There is no beautiful photography for the people whose story I just told in my previous post.
For some Americans new to Buddhism, they do not even suspect that there are Buddhist Jim Bakers in China. It's an age old style for some corrupt Buddhist monks to preach compassion, benevolence, and peace, and meanwhile, take you on a ride for giving all your compassion to their own benefit. They make you feel wonderful for having been the benevolent people. It's a very psychologically useful trick.
There are beautiful words on this Compassion site:
"We are at the dawn of an age in which extreme political concepts and dogmas may cease to dominate human affairs. We must use this historic opportunity to replace them with universal human and spiritual values. And ensure that these values become the fiber of the global family which is emerging. -Dalai Lama"
The same Daila Lama also said, "Just now, there is a very important movement beginning among the university students". He is pointing the youth of America to a site filled with falsehood and lies about how Tibet was an "independent country".
I'm sorry, but the more I read the these compassionate words, the more I'm shaking my head.
While the escaped Tibetan leaders speak of compassion and peace, have they stopped at passing out lies to mislead the West? Do the care if a war may break out one day between China and the U.S.? Do they really care about world peace? Or are they just paying lip service? Don't forget this group had endorsed Tibetans guerrillas bearing arms.