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Freedom of Thought and Belief

March 26, 2001 |  

People believe that their thoughts are all their own ideas, but sometimes this is not true. People might passively give up the freedom of thought when they are brainwashed. Throughout history, China has burned many books and killed many scholars two thousand years ago in order to force them to follow one and only king; similarly, Germany triggered War II, filled people with hatred and the idea that Germany is the best nation, and killed six million Jewish people. In the movie of American History X, Derek killed 3 black men and went to jail to prove to himself his beliefs. People's minds sometimes are brainwashed by sham stories made up by those who intentionally try to mislead people for their purpose and take away their freedom. Some examples of this are the Falun Gong movement in China, the film movie, AHX, and the essay, "The Pathway Slavery To Freedom".

I was taught in Elementary School that America is a country in which people are always hungry and sad. The food supply in China wasn't good at that time. Ironically, I felt sorry for people who lived an ocean away while I waited in long lines for my family's quota of cooking oil. We were taught that one day we were going to go across the ocean and save people there. I did not realize how ridiculous those wonderful-sounding lies were, until I met an American girl in high school. Today people in China are still suffering governmental brainwashing. People were brainwashed during the Culture Revolution of 1965-75 and the country was almost destroyed. Nowadays, the government targets Falun Gong.

The Chinese government characterizes Falun Gong as an [Chinese government's slanderous words omitted].

They control all the media to broadcast false stories nationwide and internationally through satellite dishes. Falun Gong is a spiritual movement based on the principles of the universe: truthfulness, benevolence, and forbearance. It is an ancient practice to improve mind, body and spirit through exercise and meditation. I have been practicing Falun Gong since 1998; I benefit from it greatly, as does my family. My mother had very serious heart problem before she practiced Falun Gong; now, she can do lots of housework and throw her drugs away. My father no longer takes sleeping pills, which he took for over 40 years, as a result of Falun Gong.

One of the issues the Chinese government has brought out is the false belief that Falun Gong practitioners are not allowed to go to the hospital or take medicine, and so it is [Chinese government's slanderous word omitted]. A lot of Chinese people believed that statement. No matter how ridiculous that seems, Chinese people ask me the same question all the time: "you are not allowed to go to the hospital or take medicine if you practice Falun Gong?" In Falun Gong's main book "Zhuan Falun," nowhere is it stated that you should not take medicine. Additionally, it is stated in "Zhuan Falun" that those who are critically ill should go to the hospital right away.

My mother was asked to quit the exercises. She was also forced to take medical care. My family and I don't understand what kind of government asks people to take medicine and go to the hospital when they are absolutely healthy. Because she refused to quit doing the exercise, she was sent to jail for 2 weeks. She was forced to do a lot of work and was insufficiently fed with unhealthy food. She was beat up in jail and sent home in a poor condition. The government said that this treatment was to help people like my mother understand that Falun Gong is a [Chinese government's slanderous word omitted], and to show how much the Chinese government "loves" its people. I see Chinese belief in Chinese government even from Chinese residents of American. When they hear the name "Falun Gong," they act like they have been touched by a virus. They simply turned their back to me, say bad words behind my back, or even in front of me.

After my mother came out of jail, the whole house was monitored and I couldn't talk with her much on the phone. The Chinese government not only sends spies nationally, they also send spies abroad using Chinese people's hard-earned money. After I left Denver, I didn't change my cellular phone number. In attempt to trace my location, they made a lot strange calls to me on my cell phone in which they tried to keep me talking, asking weird questions so that they could trace the call. There is no doubt that if I go back to China they will throw me in jail right away.

Whoever refuses their brainwashing ends up in jail. Furthermore, they torture people to death. The death toll has continuously risen since July 1999. When they were beating and torturing my mother they claimed that if she was dead, no one would know and it would not be a big deal. It has been documented that almost two hundred people have been tortured to death, and thousands are missing. Documentation of more than fifty thousand are still in labor camps and are forced to work eighteen hours a day. Recently China edited a story about Falun Gong members burning themselves in Tiananmen Square. I talked with some Chinese students in PSU, and I found that they simply believe whatever information comes from the Chinese government. They had no idea about Falun Gong, and they don't want to find out about it. Instead they simply said, "I really doubt what you said." I still remember those stories of Americans being hungry and sad. Phony stories, like a beautiful bubble. I feel sad for people who still believe these stories.

Derek, from the movie, "AHX," is one who is attracted by the bubble. From reality to fiction, things happen in the same way. His father and the leader of a white supremacist group influenced and brainwashed him. He could not feel it was freakish because he trusts them. In the movie, he was trying to remember how his father influenced him. At the breakfast table, when he was talking about a book write by an African American, his father replied with an extremely strong attitude that he hated black people and he thought his son should do the same. At that time, he was young and innocent. He didn't explore the truth himself, and he followed his father's beliefs.

Derek didn't find anything wrong with his father's beliefs, so he followed it to jail. In jail, he still followed that belief, and he also made his so-called friends who have the same beliefs. When Derek was raped in jail he knew what kind of people they are; when he was laying on the ground and soaked in his own blood, he saw what kind of people he had taken as friends; when he saw the drug dealer do business with his so-called friend, he knew what was betrayal. All those facts destroyed his trust, and also broke his belief. Suddenly, his eyes were opened and he discovered who is lying and who is telling the truth. He tried to put his hands on his tattoo of the Hitler's symbol to hide it. He and his brother threw all Hitler's pictures and symbols away together, indicating that they are rejected the brainwashing from the "KKK."

I think Hitler's symbol is a symbol of brainwashing and the belief that white people are the best race in the world and will use violent hatred to fulfill their goal. Without Hitler's brainwashing of Germans there would not have been a World War II and the loss of six million of Jewish people; similarly, without Derek's father and the leader of the KKK, there would have been a beautiful life for Derek, and he would not have been in jail or lost his brother; without China brainwashing the Chinese, the persecution would not last eighteen month and still continue. Eventually, Derek learned a lesson from his ignorance. He told his brother to study hard in school, which he hadn't. He thought more education could fight against brainwashing. Education could open more channels and offer more chances to people. On the other hand, educating people to be ignorant is also robbery of freedom of thought and belief.

Frederick Douglass was taught that he "should know nothing but obey his master"(166). His master thought "it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read"(166). China uses the same principle and idea when they brainwash people. They want people to be obedient. It was Frederick Douglass' strong will to learn that broke through his slavery cage. Although he was still a slave, he was a free man in thought and belief. I think even though brainwashing is passive, one still has the choice to discover the truth if one's mind is strong enough to do so. When I rejected the story of Americans as being all hungry and sad, I realized that brainwashing is also slavery. Whenever I encounter different ideas, I explore them and find the truth myself instead of taking whatever I am fed. I believe that is the way to break through slavery of the mind. In Douglass' essay, the cage he portrayed is not only a cage of slavery, but also a cage that keeps out freedom of thought and belief. "The pathway from slavery to freedom"(165) is also the pathway from brainwashing to freedom of thought and belief.

Work cited
The Pathway Slavery To Freedom, Frederick Douglass of Break Boundaries
by Carol Camfort, New Jersey 07458 :142--147

American History, Tony Kaye, film/director/photography, produced by new line cinema
Ed Norton (Derek)
Edward Furlong(Danny)
Beverly D'angelo(Doris Mon)
Stacy Keach(Cameron)
Elliott Gould(Teacher)
Avery Brooks(Principal Sweney)
Fairuza Balk(Stacy)