Category Archives: Cross-Generational Issues

A New Book: A Quaker’s Life in Our “Interesting,” Tumultuous Times

Emma Lapsansky-Werner and Chuck Fager at the Quaker History Roundtable, summer of 2017

Continue reading A New Book: A Quaker’s Life in Our “Interesting,” Tumultuous Times

Tiananmen Square, China: Remember

CNN: Tiananmen Square timeline

April 15, 1989 – Hu Yaobang, a former Communist Party leader, dies. Hu had worked to move China toward a more open political system and had become a symbol of democratic reform.

April 18, 1989 – Thousands of mourning students march through the capital to Tiananmen Square, calling for a more democratic government. In the weeks that follow, thousands of people join the students in the square to protest against China’s Communist rulers.

May 13, 1989 – More than 100 students begin a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square. The number increases to several thousand over the next few days.

May 19, 1989 – A rally at Tiananmen Square draws an estimated 1.2 million people. General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Zhao Ziyang, appears at the rally and pleads for an end to the demonstrations.

May 19, 1989 – Premier Li Peng imposes martial law.

June 1, 1989 – China halts live American news telecasts in Beijing, including CNN. Reporters are prohibited from photographing or videotaping any of the demonstrations or Chinese troops.

June 2, 1989 – A reported 100,000 people attend a concert in Tiananmen Square by singer Hou Dejian, in support of the demonstrators.

June 4, 1989 – At about 1 a.m., Chinese troops reach Tiananmen Square. Throughout the day, Chinese troops fire on civilians and students, ending the demonstrations. An official death toll has never been released.

June 5, 1989 – An unidentified man stands alone in the street, blocking a column of Chinese tanks. He remains there for several minutes before being pulled away by onlookers.

Tiananmen Square History

While the events of 1989 now dominate global coverage of Tiananmen Square, the site has long been an important crossroads within the city of Beijing. It was named for the nearby Tiananmen, or “Gate of Heavenly Peace,” and marks the entrance to the so-called Forbidden City. The location took on added significance as China shifted from an emperor-led political culture to one that was governed by the Communist Party. . . .

On the 20th anniversary of the massacre [June 2009], the Chinese government prohibited journalists from entering Tiananmen Square and blocked access to foreign news sites and social media.

Still, thousands attended a memorial vigil in honor of the anniversary in Hong Kong. Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the event, in 2019, New York-based Human Rights Watch published a report detailing reported arrests in China of those associated with the protests.

The 1989 events at Tiananmen Square have also been highly censored on China’s tightly-controlled internet. According to a survey released in 2019 by the University of Toronto and the University of Hong Kong, more than 3,200 words referencing the massacre had been censored.

Tiananmen Square Censorship

It wasn’t until 2006 that Yu Dongyue, a journalist arrested for throwing paint at a portrait of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square during the protests, was released from prison.

On the 20th anniversary of the massacre [2009], the Chinese government prohibited journalists from entering Tiananmen Square and blocked access to foreign news sites and social media.

A famous statue at the University of Hong Kong marking the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed late on Wednesday [December 22, 2021].

The statue showed piled-up corpses to commemorate the hundreds – possibly thousands – of pro-democracy protesters killed by Chinese authorities in 1989.

The “Pillar of Shame” Tiananmen Memorial at Hong Kong University – officials removed it in December 2021

It was one of the few remaining public memorials in Hong Kong commemorating the incident.

Its removal comes as Beijing has increasingly been cracking down on political dissent in Hong Kong.

The city used to be one of few places in China that allowed public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square protests – a highly sensitive topic in the country. . . .

“The dissident Fang Lizhi, holed up at the United States Embassy in Beijing, in 1990, to avoid arrest after the Tiananmen crackdown, composed an essay titled “The Chinese Amnesia.”

“About once each decade, the true face of history is thoroughly erased from the memory of Chinese society,” he wrote . . . .

“This is the objective of the Chinese Communist policy of Forgetting History. In an effort to coerce all of society into a continuing forgetfulness, the policy requires that any detail of history that is not in the interests of the Chinese Communists cannot be expressed in any speech, book, document, or other medium.”

New Yorker, 10/02/23

Jimmy Carter: “Coming to the End”

Grandson says Carter is ‘coming to the end’ in brief update about former president’s health

Michelle Shen, CNN — May 14, 2024

Jimmy Carter’s grandson said Tuesday that the former president is “coming to the end” in a brief update about the 39th president’s health.

Jimmy Carter – in church

“(My grandfather) is doing OK,” Jason Carter said at a mental health forum named in honor of his grandmother, the late former first lady Rosalynn Carter, at the Carter Center. “He has been in hospice, as you know, for almost a year and a half now, and he really is, I think, coming to the end that, as I’ve said before, there’s a part of this faith journey that is so important to him, and there’s a part of that faith journey that you only can live at the very end and I think he has been there in that space.” Continue reading Jimmy Carter: “Coming to the End”

My True Confession, from 1968: All Downhill from There

Here it is:

I didn’t vote for Hubert Humphrey for president in 1968. Humphrey lost to Richard Nixon, by less than one percent. And as Andy Young had warned me, it’s been (almost) all downhill from there.

Not that I voted for Nixon instead. Or for George Wallace, the fiery segregationist Alabama governor, who carried five deep southern states that year.

Instead, I didn’t vote at all.

I’m not proud of it; but my feelings and regrets are not the point here. Continue reading My True Confession, from 1968: All Downhill from There

In Baltimore, It’s Not Only a Bridge That Collapsed: The Catholic Church Has Too

How have the mighty fallen!

When I was a kid being raised Catholic, the handbook for my “spiritual formation” (aka indoctrination) was arranged as a series of questions and answers. In early editions, there were as many as 1400 questions.

I didn’t actually read much of it, but listened to and repeated more, and still remember several of the opening queries. Like these (any readers who recognize them, repeat in unison):

Q. Who made me?
A. God made me.

Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

Q. What must we do to save our souls?
A. To save our souls. we must worship God by faith. hope. and charity: that is. we must believe in Him. hope in Him. and love Him with all our heart.

Q. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?
A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.

Well, God was pretty busy in those days, what with the Cold War on one hand, and delaying the next hot one on the other, plus there were the likes of teenage me, on the loose and in church, edging toward the door.

Then–even scarier — came the drift in American federal courts toward unleashing an apocalyptic, worse-(judging by the attention God’s spokesmen gave it)-than-World-War-Three plague on the country, namely by legalizing  “artificial” birth control. So He spoke to us kids through this book of the church, in the hands of lay teachers, or priests and nuns, and IIRC my mother as well. Continue reading In Baltimore, It’s Not Only a Bridge That Collapsed: The Catholic Church Has Too