Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Unknown Hero of Tiananmen Square

Once in awhile a photograph captures an event or an emotion that immediately gets seared into the minds of those who view it. The man shown in these famous photos is defiantly blocking the way of a column of tanks heading for Tiananmen Square during the Chinese uprising of 1989.

This post is dedicated in honor and remembrance of that heroic man and his courageous act that changed everything on June 4, back in 1989.

History does not record his name or what happened to him. Some say he melted back into his ordinary life following the incident. Others say he was arrested and executed.

Some details are clear though and it’s in those details that make the story even more interesting.

This man was not a student leader of the uprising. This was not a planned or choreographed protest. The shopping bags in his hands and the style of his clothing indicate that he was just an ordinary man on his way from the market heading for work or home.

When he saw the tanks entering his city and on their way to repress and possibly harm his fellow citizens he was outraged enough to risk his own life by stepping in front of a tank.

A seemingly ordinary man doing an extraordinary thing.

It was a simple yet heroic act, yet it had the power to change the world forever. That image was broadcast worldwide repeatedly and he became an inspiration for many.

This was a late 20Th century David vs. Goliath story.

Now these days the battle lies between us ordinary people against the giant oil companies. They have us by the throat and we are struggling to free ourselves or die.

Society's addiction to oil has reached it's terminal stage. Just like heroin addicts know, the high doesn't last forever. The gas high is gone and the gas drug is starving our children, destroying our economy, funding terrorism, and killing our planet. Oil has become a disease.

In our lifetimes we may not get the opportunity to do such an extraordinary thing as the "Tank Man" did in China. But even so we still can stand up to Goliath. We can symbolically stand in front of our own gas guzzling vehicles and say "no more, not in my town!"

We can choose to ride our motorcycles, scooters or bicycles, we can use public transportation, car pool, or walk instead of driving a car. Every gallon saved brings us one gallon closer to slaying the gas giant.

Enough people making more responsible choices can make a collective difference. We can set the example, be the inspiration for others, and together we can change the world. Society needs to get serious about alternatives to oil for fuel.

As the unknown hero of Tiananmen square taught us, it takes just one person to have the courage to stand up, soon others will join us.

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