Experiences and Reflections on Clarifying the Truth in Manhattan (Part 2)
3. How to solve difficulties encountered in downtown areas
There are many businesses in the downtown areas, with a huge number of people coming and going all the time. This makes it possible for us to clarify the truth to many people. However, there are certain specific difficulties, and one of them is how to handle the relationship with local businesses.
One practitioner who took part in a torture exhibit held on the street told us this story:
"Some vendors were selling things opposite where we were. Because our exhibit attracted many passers-by, their businesses were somewhat affected and they felt a bit annoyed at the beginning. However, after we clarified the truth to them, and from observing our behavior, they all told us that they fully understood and none were unhappy about it. Some of them even helped us distribute truth clarification materials. When we left, one vendor shook hands with all of us and said, 'You are awakening the world's people. This world is too indifferent, and you have done a great job. This world needs to be awakened!' We said to him, 'We are sorry that we affected your business these past few days.' He said, 'It doesn't matter, I understand you.'"
"In the afternoon of the fourth day (weekend), many practitioners from other places came to help and the police also came. The police said, 'This is private property and the owner has a problem with you [doing an exhibit] here.' At first, six or seven police officers came and surrounded us, as if they were facing a great enemy. Some practitioners clarified the truth to them while other practitioners sent forth righteous thoughts. Soon the police softened and said, 'We know you are a very peaceful group. You can stay until you are finished. We'll stay with you.' Two officers stayed and the rest left."
Practitioners remembered Master's teachings to clarify the truth wherever there is a problem, so they calmly clarified the truth to the police, targeting their different mentalities. Later, when business owners came to confront us, the police would clarify the truth to them. There was a rather stubborn security person, who was interfered with by his own notions and he constantly tried to stop practitioners from distributing flyers. The practitioners patiently clarified the truth to him; one minute he would say he was carrying out orders from above and the next he would threaten to call the police. One passer-by who witnessed the incident stepped forward and said he would testify for the practitioners and said he would call the media. Other practitioners also came over to clarify the truth to him. Knowing he was in the wrong, he walked away quietly.
We have permits to hold the torture exhibits and are allowed to distribute flyers without the need for a permit if we do it in groups of two or three people and do not block traffic or endanger the safety of the pedestrians. Nevertheless, some luxury buildings and shops still ask us to leave, stating that it is their "private property." In these situations, it's probably better to maintain a clear head and eliminate interference, clarify the truth to the shop owner, the security personnel and police officers in a timely manner. We should also be aware that we have a right to be there and we should rationally protect our rights. At the same time, we should see to the root of the problem, that there are things that we did not do well, which in turn stirred up their human notions, and these human notions were then used to interfere with us. Therefore, while we calmly clarify the truth and clear away the interferences, we should improve ourselves in time, and actively improve the quality of the exhibit so our booth and we ourselves are more in harmony with our surroundings. Many people are watching us; even though the improvements we can make in our exhibits are rather limited, people will see and remember our efforts. Truth clarification is "a master key." Dafa practitioners constantly improve themselves according to Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance, and this is by itself validating Dafa. The process of us validating Dafa with our words and actions is a very direct way to clarify the truth from the perspective of people who are watching us.
The way we clarify the truth and hold torture exhibits is based on our experience from participating in local activities and exhibitions in cities and towns over the years. We know very well that if we hold our exhibits in a luxury hotel, we definitely need to improve the quality of our designs and props. In order to let people learn the truth, Dafa practitioners rise early and go to bed late; sometimes they sit on the ground and eat fast food somewhere in street. To save money, some practitioners carry drinking water and home-cooked food, and they pile bags and other things at places people can easily see. Although we have improved and now cover up our baggage, some non- practitioners still dislike seeing it in front of luxury hotels. They might think we should keep a distance from them.
Regarding such issues, in addition to our clarifying the truth, some practitioners have come up with ideas to resolve them; for example, providing some clean and folding boxes, so that practitioners who hold torture exhibits can put their baggage inside the boxes; some practitioners rent vans so that practitioners can store their baggage inside during the day. When we are home, we sometimes forget to clarify the truth to our family members and colleagues around us; now we are in a big city, let us not forget to clarify the truth to vendors, security personnel, police officers and business owners next to us. Although we can spend more time with them than with passers-by, the time is still limited. Maybe they will never have another chance to speak to us after our exhibit is finished.
A fellow practitioner told two stories: A native New Yorker was moved after reading a flyer and said she spent two hours browsing through Dafa websites after she went home. Later she said to a practitioner, who is a local voluntary contact, "I'm extremely touched and moved by what I'm reading on the internet and what I've researched for the last two hours. I'm in tears and I'm overwhelmed to speak at the moment. I know you have marches and meetings in the city, but I could not find any relevant information on the website." "I want to know if there is anything I can do to help Falun Gong, anything that I can volunteer to do." Maybe it is time that we provide more opportunities for such people to fulfill their wishes, apart from asking them to sign our petitions?
Another story is from a practitioner from Washington, DC who participated in torture exhibits in a busy area in Manhattan. A man in New York saw the exhibits and was very touched. He felt the persecution of Falun Gong is so brutal, and Dafa practitioners are doing a great job in raising people's awareness. However, his colleague knew nothing about Falun Gong and thought practitioners were in the way. So this man clarified the truth to him. He told him about Falun Gong, about the persecution of Falun Gong in China. Consequently, his colleague gave up his negative impression of Falun Gong practitioners. "I think it changed his mind," he said to the practitioner.
4. The shock upon seeing the torture exhibits and more stories
A Yale student and his friend were in New York a few days ago. They said that they saw Falun Gong everywhere and the torture exhibits were "very effective." They were moved and amazed at the fact that the "actors" were able to hold still for so long. One student picked up a newsletter and read it through.
A western woman I met who is a student at Columbia Law School said she saw the torture exhibit in Times Square. She plans to be a human rights attorney in the future, with a focus on China.
A young New Yorker said to a practitioner who passed him a flyer, "Oh, thanks! I already have it. I also signed where you held torture exhibits. You are doing a great job."
An elderly Western woman walked out of an apartment building and ran into a Falun Gong practitioner who was talking to the doorman. The practitioner said, "Hello! Have you got a flyer?" The woman smiled and said, "Oh, Falun Gong, thanks! I already have it. I not only have flyers, I also have your newspaper and I have read your stories." The practitioner said, "Great! Please help us tell the stories to more people. Good luck to you!" "Good luck to you too!" the elderly lady replied.
A young woman who was in charge of directing traffic during the Republican Party convention met Falun Gong practitioners when she was waiting for the green light at an intersection. She turned down the flyer, "No, thanks. I'm not interested in any Party." The practitioner turned an exhibit board toward her and said, "Look! This is not used for any political election. This is Falun Gong, like Tai Chi...beneficial physically and mentally." The practitioner turned the board around and said, "But in 1999, the former state head of China started persecuting Falun Gong. In the past five years, at least 1,000 practitioners were tortured to death." The young woman looked at the torture pictures and said, "Do you have pamphlets?" "I only have flyers." She took one. The practitioner said, "Thank you! I hope this information about Falun Gong brings you good luck." The green light came on and the young woman left with the flyer, in deep thoughts.
Several firefighters were standing in front of the fire station to enjoy what was going on in the streets. A practitioner gave them a newspaper and showed them the board, saying, "Hello! Please help us stop the persecution." The firefighters looked confused, so the practitioners explained to them what Falun Gong is and about the persecution. Their facial expression changed from confusion to sympathy. When they heard that helping more people learn the news can help stop the persecution, they said, "OK, we will."
Two practitioners in suits were distributing flyers next to a torture exhibit in a very busy street. There were many people walking by, including some senior corporate management personnel. 90 % of the people took flyers from them and about 30%-40% stopped to talk to them. They wanted to let everyone that walked by to know the truth, and felt it was really effective to hold torture exhibits and clarify the truth to people face-to-face. Many people asked, "How come we did not know anything about this before?" "Why doesn't the media report this?"
Every day is new, a new day for Dafa practitioners to continue studying, continue to carry out our responsibilities and to improve our xinxing (moral character, heart or mind nature) and skills.
Let us study the Fa well, "Lose no time and save them, hurry up and tell them." ["Hurry Up and Tell Them" from Hong Yin II] It would be great if more practitioners outside China could write stories about Westerners learning the truth, so that the western society will know the facts regarding Falun Gong and the persecution.