Realizations from Clarifying the Truth to the Government
Shared at the 2004 New York Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference
Greetings to our most respected Master! Greetings to fellow practitioners!
My name is Tom Liang. I am a practitioner from New Jersey. My topic today is "Realizations when Clarifying the Truth to the Government." Toward the end of 2000, I started clarifying the truth to the government. For the past few years I deeply felt that clarifying the truth to government officials is a very important part of the Fa-rectification process. The attitude of governmental officials toward Dafa not only affects their own future, it also relates to the future of people in their districts. Their support of Dafa has at the same time had a forceful effect to suffocate evil. The following are my experiences and realizations. Please help me by pointing out anything inappropriate.
1. Get rid of attachments and cultivate compassion
Because the people I meet are in the field of politics, it has always been a difficult task for me to clarify the truth to governmental officials. If my thoughts are not correct, their human notions can easily stir up my attachments, and then I will not be able to achieve the desired effect of clarifying the truth. Master said in Zhuan Falun: "I'll tell you a truth: the whole process of cultivation is a process of constantly getting rid of human attachments." So, I think working with the government for truth-clarification is also cultivation. We have to work continuously to get rid of our attachments.
When I was working at the town and county level, I did not feel much pressure. But when I started working with state and federal representatives, the pressure became greater. As I frequently have to use the phone and email for communication, I started to feel that my English was not good enough, so fear crept up! As soon as I would call a representative's office, I got nervous and my tongue would be tied. I would forget all the things I had prepared to say. Sometimes I sat in front of the computer for two or three hours and could not think of what to email to the representatives. These difficulties depressed me more and more. I lost confidence to work with representatives from the government. I began to think I was not fit to deal with the government and wanted to quit.
Later I read an article on Clearwisdom saying that, "When practitioners in China heard that the United States and other governments were strongly supporting Falun Gong, they were quite encouraged. They will use that information as part of their message to clarify the truth to people in China." I was very touched after reading this. I thought if practitioners in China could clarify the truth without fear of sacrificing their lives, what did I have to fear when I merely ran into a little difficulty? Fellow practitioners also encouraged me, "It is okay that your English is not great. People already know you are from abroad. As long as you can express clearly what you mean, it is good enough!" I said to myself, they are right! Those working in the representatives' offices are very polite. They won't hang up on me, even if I can not speak well.
But there are real difficulties dealing with state and federal representatives on Dafa matters, particularly Congressmen. They are usually very busy, and it is difficult even to get in touch with their assistants, let alone the congressmen themselves. But a lot of things in Fa-rectification happen suddenly and need solutions in one or two days. More often than not, after making phone calls, nothing would happen for a whole day. When things do not progress smoothly, my mind becomes troubled and my attachment to wanting to fight creeps up. I once wrote to a representative, asking him to sign a resolution. A few days passed without hearing anything. So, I called to inquire but got no answer. I figured "if they don't answer me, I would call every day and see how they react." As it happened, whenever they figured out the call was from me, they would transfer it to an answering machine. I never accomplished the task. Failures made me begin to fear difficulties all over again. This was particularly so after I heard that all the well-organized special interest groups use professional lobbyists for this kind of work. I was more disheartened. I thought that my English was terrible and I was lacking language skills. Who would listen to me when I go "lobbying"? The more I thought about it, the less confident I became.
Because my mental state was not good, the effectiveness of my work with the government deteriorated. I no longer wanted to contact those government officials. Only when an emergency happened would I email or call the officials I was supposed to contact, and I always wanted an immediate response. After many attempts, the results were getting worse and worse. Often I got no response at all to my request. The email and fax I had sent got no response; and when I called I could only leave voicemails and received no return calls.
When there was no resolution for an issue, I blamed the practitioners who work with governments, saying that they coordinated the work poorly. Once, when a practitioner who coordinates government work asked me about the situation with a representative in my district, I told her the work was very difficult. She responded, "Really? The representative in your district used to be very supportive of Falun Gong. You should look for reasons." I was a little shocked after I heard that. She was right. The previous practitioner had done a great job working with the government. How come everything went downhill after I took over? Was it my English or my ability?
I began to rethink the problems I had working with the government since I started. My method was always the same. Every time an emergency came up, I would email or fax them, telling the representatives to do this and that. No wonder one of us joked, "Our representatives are like our secretaries; we think of them when something is happening, and we forget them when nothing is happening." When I thought about this I realized where all my problems come from: I only think of somebody when I need them! That is not good, even for ordinary people, let alone for us practitioners. More importantly, the work we are doing with the government is to clarify the truth and offer salvation to all beings. Master said in "Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Atlanta Fa Conference": "so you have to do well clarifying the truth. Don't just go to talk for the sake of formality. Whenever you talk to someone you need to have him understand." So when we work with government officials, we have to be thorough.
Master wants us to be better than a good person among the common people. So, as a voter in a district, we have the right to ask our representatives to serve us; at the same time, we also have the responsibility to support them and show our concern for them. Master wants us to be kind to others. So, as practitioners, shouldn't we treat our representatives with a heart of compassion?
Then, how do we show we have a compassionate heart? I thought of Master's words. Master told us that practitioners should always think of others first, but when I did Fa-rectification government work, I seldom thought of the representatives. I put my requests before them. So I started to change my way of doing things, beginning with the staff. Every Christmas I would send each representative a Christmas card. Whenever there are big, upcoming shows in the community, I would always remember to send them an invitation. Prior to their re-election campaign I would ask them if they needed any volunteers. After their re-election, I would call to congratulate them. Once, when we heard two representatives who were very supportive of us were reelected, we hurried to their victory party to congratulate them and thanked them for their support of Falun Gong. Both were happy to see us and let us know they would continue to support Falun Gong. Of course I won't forget to continuously update them with news developments in the Falun Gong persecution. This is different from the way we did it in the past - only writing to them when we need them to do things for us.
I realized that doing government work is a lengthy and never-ending task. We have to be persistent. Every time the politicians have done anything supportive of Dafa, I always write them a thank you letter. Sometimes they do not respond to my requests. I no longer care about the results like I used to. I think, as long as they sense the kindness in Falun Gong practitioners, they will understand the truth of the persecution against Falun Gong, and my work is then not in vain. Clarifying the truth emphasizes the process, not the result. As Master taught us, we should concentrate on the process and not the outcome.
The "6.23" incident happened in June 2003. Falun Gong practitioners demanded the court to punish the violators. I wrote a letter to the relevant attorney representing this case in a New York court and faxed this letter to my state representatives. I merely wanted to let them know about this incident. I thought since this happened in New York and I am not directly involved, I won't ask them to do anything. But to my surprise, my three state representatives wrote a joint letter to the lead attorney, expressing their concerns. This deeply touched me and made me further understand the profound meaning of Master's words when we were taught to ask for nothing and attain it automatically.
2. Using All Chances to Do Government Work
Although I had made some progress at the state government level, I have not done as much at the federal level. The work at the federal level is equally important, though, because congressional resolutions represent the voice of the Unites States government and the American people. Their support of Falun Gong mirrors the government's support. This is what the evildoers fear the most. It is also the reason that the evildoers will do everything to stop us. Moreover, the old forces also interfere, attempting to damage communication channels we have with government officials, stopping our truth clarification information from getting into the hands of congressmen and other influential people. Several times I discovered that the faxes I had sent to congressmen disappeared. Another practitioner also told me that she had sent a lot of material to a congressman but never received a response. Later on, she ran into the congressman and asked about this and found out that the congressman had never received the materials. We immediately needed to deal with the topic of unhindered communication channels so that the Dafa materials will reach those for whom they are intended!
After I was able to establish initial contact with that congressman's office and kept up with the relationship, my Dafa work with government officials has become much smoother. Congressmen and other officials are able to receive our truth-clarification information in a timely manner. This February, in order to urge the U.S. government to resubmit a resolution demanding China to improve its human rights as being discussed at the United Nation Human Rights Commission, U.S. congressman Chris Smith drafted Resolution 530. If half of the congressmen in the Foreign Relations Committee co-sign the resolution, it would speed up the passage in Congress. Since my representative is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and a senior congressman, his signing or not was of great importance. I wrote a letter and faxed it to the woman in the office with whom I kept in touch. I intended to call her the next day. To my astonishment, the next afternoon another practitioner told me my representative had already signed it. I was surprised and delighted at the news. I called that woman right away to express my gratitude. Because of everybody's effort, a dozen congressmen in the Foreign Relations' Committee signed, and the resolution was put to congress. It was passed with 420 to 2 just before the United Nations convened. Because I had a clear channel of communication with the congressman's office, the effect of clarifying the truth increased greatly. The passage of Resolution 530 paved the way for the US government to resubmit the resolution demanding China to improve its human rights at the UN Human Rights Committee. No doubt, this was a huge blow to the evil and allowed many people to position themselves well.
Master said in "Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Midwest-U.S. Fa Conference":
"But under normal circumstances none of the things we do when we're validating the Fa look like miracles or divine occurrences. They're all just human in form on the surface. That's why with lots of things it looks like we're doing ordinary human things. And especially when it comes to all those people who don't know much about Dafa, they think that all we're doing is ordinary human stuff. But in fact it's different, it is fundamentally different. Our starting point, our goals, and the objective we want to achieve are all different from those of ordinary people. We aren't trying to achieve some ordinary human things among ordinary people."
Like Master said, when we are dealing with government officials, our way is totally different than that of ordinary people. They use different maneuvers while we use compassion. We use our great compassion to awaken their kindness to support Dafa. We must tell them about the persecution, while at the same time demonstrating to them our compassion and kindness. By doing it this way, their support and help for us does not just stop on human moral grounds, it comes from their heart and arises out of their support for Zhen-Shan-Ren and opposing evil. This is what evildoers fear the most. Because when a righteous person really knows the beauty of Dafa, economic considerations cannot shake his support for Dafa. I read a story on the web that the evildoing forces, in order to get to U.S. congressmen, sent a group of people to work on them. What were the results? Judging by the voting record for Congressional Resolutions 188 and 530, we know that they failed miserably.
Master said in "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston":
"No matter what methods the evil uses or how much money they spend, they can't achieve what they want to achieve in damaging Dafa. We're doing these things with our hearts, while they're doing things with money--they could never compare."
Thank you, everybody!