Touching Stories from the Streets of Manhattan
As soon as my winter vacation started, I packed my bags and went to Manhattan right away to clarify the truth of the persecution. I spent 18 days in New York, 15 of which were spent handing out materials on the streets. On Christmas Eve and New Year's Day, the anti-torture exhibits we use to expose the persecution continued as usual.
I want to share some of my experiences from those 15 days. These experiences were about people's attitude toward Falun Dafa and the events that moved me the most.
There were several days when it was so cold that the temperatures were down to around zero degrees Fahrenheit. My toes were painful from the cold. In such cold weather, almost everybody walking on the streets stuck their hands into their pockets and hurried along. They did not want to stay in the cold one second more than they had to, but Falun Gong practitioners continued to hand out materials despite the chilly wind.
One Westerner came over and asked me about a popular New York attraction. "Where is the Christmas tree?" I told him that I was not from the area and that I had come to tell people the truth about Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted in China. He told me that actually the majority of New Yorkers knew that this kind of persecution is a crime and is infringing upon basic human rights. But why were some people still indifferent and not speaking out? "Look," he said, pointing to his own clothes, shoes and cell phone, "All made in China. People just simply cover their eyes and pretend not to see anything." He then waved at me and wished us success as he left.
The following week the weather turned warmer with the temperatures up around 32 degrees. We started to ask the people passing by to sign our petitions to help stop the persecution. I had many touching encounters.
On the first day of the New Year, as soon as we set up the anti-torture exhibits, a young lady read the truth about the persecution on our posters. When we asked her if she was willing to sign her name, she did so without any hesitation. When I explained to her in detail that what the Falun Gong practitioners in China have suffered is much more and worse than what is shown on the posters, tears ran down her face. In a voice choked with sobs she said, "I am really sorry. I feel that my signature is too trivial and I don't know what else I can do to help the people being persecuted." Looking at her sincere eyes and listening to the voice of her heart, I was deeply moved and I almost cried as well.
A young Filipino-American rode his bicycle to our exhibit site specifically to sign his name. When I expressed appreciation, he said, "This is what I should do."
A New Yorker, when he heard my request for his signature, stopped right away and signed his name. He then gave the thumbs up and said, "You are doing a great thing!"
A German family of four vacationing in New York all signed their names and said to me, "The darkness will soon be over."
An affable Western mother and a little Chinese girl of about six years old came to look at our posters. When I mentioned to them that Falun Gong practitioners are persecuted in China, she said, "I believe that the Chinese government is capable of doing anything because I have been in China." I looked at the little girl she had adopted, bent down and told the girl, "You are really lucky that you have found such a good mother." About half an hour later, I saw the little girl pulling her father by the hand and coming towards us. He also signed his name. The family's kindness and justice touched me deeply.
A couple from Poland, after hearing my explanation about the Chinese Communist Party's persecution against Falun Gong, said, "I know about the Communist Party's cruelty because they also badly harmed us." They signed their names immediately.
When an older woman happened to pass by our exhibit site, she said to me in a loud voice, "I saw it, I saw it." She then loudly said again, "When I was at Tiananmen Square, I saw with my own eyes how those police brutally beat them. I felt almost suffocated there." After she signed her name, she said to the people around that everybody should sign their names to stop the cruel and barbaric behavior.
A lady from Central America stood reading in front of the display board for a long time. I approached her and told her about the tragedies of the persecution. She said that she fully understood. Then she told me her family's story. Her grandfather is Chinese and her grandmother is from Central America. She has an uncle who stayed in China and was a doctor. The Chinese Communist Party put him in jail for 20 years because he had a foreign mother. "Passing information to a foreign country" has always been a tool for persecuting innocent Chinese people. Later her uncle sent all of his children to the United States to prevent them from falling into the CCP's hands. Her cousins are now living in Chinatown in New York City and they can only speak Chinese. I gave her some Chinese-language materials, hoping she would pass them on to them and tell them not to listen to the rumors and lies the CCP tells about Falun Gong. She said, "They will not believe in the propaganda of the Chinese communist government because of their father's whole bitter life." I said, "There are many Chinese in America who do believe the propaganda and hate Falun Gong. I hope you can tell them the truth of the persecution." She said, "I will." She took a photo with me and took both Chinese and English materials. I was moved by her understanding and felt very happy.
On another day, an older gentleman stood at the display board looking for a long time. When I tried to approach him, he walked away. Shortly after, I saw him standing at a far-away corner looking at the torture exhibit. After many people finished signing their names and left, he came back again. I asked him to sign his name. He asked how Falun Gong is persecuted. I told him about the party's vicious regime under Jiang Zemin, which couldn't tolerate people believing in Truth-Compassion-Forbearance. He told me he used to be a Communist Party member. I was surprised. He said he came from Hungary when he was young. The Hungarian communist government forced him to join the party, threatening him that he would lose his job, his children would not be able to go to school, and he could have everything taken away if he didn't. I told him that Falun Gong practitioners are now under the same kind of threat because of their belief. What they are suffering is far beyond the pressure he had experienced in Hungary. In China, many practitioners have been forced to leave their homes, have lost their jobs, have lost the chance to go to school, have lost their families or even their lives, all because they wanted to exercise the right to practice Falun Gong. Looking at his shaking hand as he signed the signature book, I could sense the shock he experienced in his heart.
Hearing about Falun Gong and the persecution for the first time, a couple from London immediately wanted to sign their names. They also said, "We are Christians, and we were persecuted for our belief in the past, so it is our duty to oppose persecution." Just like them, many Christians signed their names because persecution cannot be tolerated.
One day, a man in his seventies was standing in front of the display board. He looked very gentle. When I got close to him, he told me that a few days before a New York newspaper reported how the angry people in a remote rural town in China burned police vehicles and attacked county government buildings. He said this was what the government forced people into, and probably the citizens there had no other choice. When he finished signing his name, he said, "The Communist Party will lose its power soon."
More and more people understand what Falun Gong is, why such peaceful exercises from ancient China have been brutally persecuted, and why these individuals pay with their lives for the right to believe in Truth-Compassion-Forbearance.
Some Tibetans from New York signed their names without any hesitation. They told me, "We have also suffered the same kind of persecution."
Visitors and New Yorkers from Poland, Vietnam, Cuba and the former Soviet Union also showed their support without hesitation, since they have also been ruled by brutal communist powers.
When I asked a passing young man, "Do you want to sign the petition to help us stop the persecution?" He answered, "Please." After he signed his name, he sincerely thanked me. Of course, there were many other people who did not stop but said to us, "Good luck," which indirectly expressed their support.
There were too many other stories to write down every one. The many righteous and kind people inspired me to clarify the truth even more diligently with other practitioners to stop the persecution soon.
January 26, 2005