Since the crackdown on Falun Gong began in 1999, over 150 Falun Gong practitioners have died in police custody and countless more have been arrested and tortured. Those of us outside of China try to do everything we can to awaken the people to the horrifying crimes being committed in China, but every day we read about the latest escalation in the Chinese government's continuing persecution.
Last weekend, about five practitioners showed up at the local Chinese consulate to protest by performing the Falun Gong exercises. While the rest of us practiced, one practitioner waited for people to stop by so that she could answer any questions that they may have. During the entire time we were there, she handed out a total of five flyers, and no one really stayed to talk to her in depth. The most common response we had was perhaps a curious glance at our poses or a pointed finger at the banner. How much concrete difference did we make that afternoon? One might think that it was very little, and that it did more to improve our own xinxing than to alter the lives of others. However, at the end of the afternoon, each of us was confident that even if only one positive thought was planted or one curious question was raised in the heart ofa passerby, then it was well worth it. Because as the Teacher said, "... it is his Buddha-nature that has emerged. This heart is considered most precious..." This is the case, whether we are trying to actively raise public awareness by participating in parades and protests, or simply by being diligent co-workers, considerate neighbors, or thoughtful spouses. Each life that we touch either on a daily basis or even just in passing as a practitioner is valuable, and every action we take, however minute or seemingly insignificant, can have a profound effect by awakening someone's Buddha-nature.
Whenever there is a local event, however small, we are always excited to attend, in hopes of using the local media to reach a small piece of the world. Whenever we are able to give a short introduction to Falun Gong on the local TV channel's morning news segment, or give a demonstration at a local health fair, we feel that each is an extraordinary opportunity. We are giving the chance of obtaining the Fa to many people at the same time, and bit by bit, more and more people will know what Falun Dafa stands for. And as more and more people understand Falun Dafa, the stories made up by the Chinese government will seem flimsier and flimsier. People often fear what they do not understand, and along with understanding comes acceptance. Even if everyone cannot obtain the Fa, it is our duty to give as many people as we can the opportunity to know about Falun Dafa.
Last September, when Jiang Zemin attended a United Nations meeting in New York, my wife was one of the people who went there to protest. One would think that the president of a country boasting 1.4 billion people in population would consider a protest consisting of two thousand peaceful practitioners a trivial matter. However, what really happened was that Jiang Zemin scurried and ducked his way through his stay in New York, apparently too embarassed or ashamed to face the protesters. Not much was made of it by the media, but it goes to show how much he and the Chinese government fear the exposure of their shameful actions. The fact is, despite its traditionally hard-line stance, the Chinese government is quite image conscious, especially when something directly affects its prestige and prominence in the international arena.
There was an article in the last issue of Newsweek that detailed Beijing's furious efforts at the 2008 Olympic bid. To improve its image, Beijing has enlisted a workforce of 800,000 and spent $1.5 billion to brighten up the appearance of the city. It is certain that every "feather in the cap" and "black eye" is being tabulated by some government official, and the outcry over its human rights abuse is undoubtedly China's biggest black eye. By increasing the international condemnation of its blatant violations, it is certainly conceivable that the government could ease up its persecution under these circumstances.
It is for these two reasons that we should make the effort to attend the Geneva Conference. First, it is a great way to spread the Fa. It is certain that a large contingent of media will be present, and they will be able to help convey the truth about what Falun Dafa is and what it offers to their audience. Second, this is the perfect forum to expose the crimes of the Chinese government to the world, raise the awareness of the world about what is going on in China, and apply pressure to the Chinese government to stop its senseless persecution. Perhaps a few days worth of time and a few thousand miles to travel seem like good reasons to not attend the conference, but these two reasons for attending far outweigh them.