There it was. The photo. The news. The terrifying "How can anyone be doing this to another human being?" moment. All the excitement of being young grown-ups studying in a foreign metropolis ground to a halt as we dealt with the paralyzing humanity of that one person against the inhumanity of those (human-driven) tanks.
Just the words, "Tianenmen Square" bring me back to that horrible, horrible moment. We were 20-something Christian-college kids, braving the amazing adventure of studying in Guadalajara, Mexico. Our prof had taken us for a side trip to Mexico City, and we'd just gotten out from our Sunday morning church service. I'd developed a fondness for TIME International edition, and made everyone stop by the newsstand so I could get my fix.
I've looked it up, and June 4 was a Sunday. By the time we were slapped in the face with it, the connected and up-to-date people had been coping for a week. This was before the Internet, before CNN, before it became nearly impossible in a city of that size to be a full week behind on the news. To know that the whole time we'd been jaunting around ... to put it in words seems to trivialize it by making this international event all about us privileged U.S. kids wishing we were back in the familiar embrace of our families. It was -- and IS -- soooo not about us.
Yet it IS about us -- as a part of the larger "us." As college students, the very group that was facing down the Chinese government crackdown. As world citizens, sharing the outrage and violation. As people of faith, trying to believe that a fallen world can be improved and that people disconnected with their human side can still be reached.
We must keep trying. We must find whatever in our own lives is as scary and painful to face as those tanks, and not just admire "Tank Guy" and turn the page.
Get up, stand up
Stand up for your rights
Don't give up the fight
-- Bob Marley, "Get Up, Stand Up"