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June 04, 2009


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This gives me the chills. What a horrible moment in history.

Fascinating conjunction. Does the picture illustrate or negate Gandhi's contention?

I see this picture as a reason to hope, and so a reminder, like Gandhi's quote, not to despair. This incident happened the morning AFTER the soldiers had massacred the students in Tiananmen Square - which makes it even more remarkable to me, since this man, whoever he was (not a demonstrator - notice the shopping bags he carries), knew exactly what the army was capable of and willing to do.

What I see here is the enduring power of the individual against faceless tyranny. Not only by his extraordinary bravery by standing in front of a column of tanks. He reminded the tank driver of his own humanity, that he (the driver) did not have act as a cog in the machine but can make choices, too. And the tank driver chose to act as a human being, not a cog.

Even though the Chinese government won this round, and it was horrible, look at what has happened since. China is still a repressive state, but a little light has been let in. Let in for, perhaps, all the wrong reasons - profit and greed and globalization, but let in nonetheless. And there is no putting the genii back in the bottle, particularly in this hyper-connected world. I had a wonderful student this past semester at Goucher who lives in Beijing - thoughtful, smart, perceptive, determined to see the world as it is, not just the "official" version of reality. She and other young Chinese people like her are emblematic to me of China's future. I see them as the legacy of this extraordinary ordinary man, and so I have hope.

And Gandhi is historically right. Evil regimes, even though they may last for many years, eventually choke on their own evil and die of it.

So when I see this picture and I think about this young man, I am inspired.What endures? The greatness of the human spirit, not the power of tanks.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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This Way Out

by T.P.Winch

Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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