June 4, 1989, the communist government of China mercilessly massacred countless people (hundreds, thousands, and even 10,000, according to Sir Alan Donald), including students, residents, and even other soldiers. The events serve as a seemingly timeless testimony to the brutality of authoritarian regimes who fulfill the predictions of Orwell’s 1984 and is remembered in films like Black Night in June by Arther Kent (youtube: watch?v=hA4iKSeijZI ).
Yet the sheer reality of those horrors has escaped the minds of common individuals, even in democratic nations, where policemen argue they need facial recognition software and cameras and the legislative branch of the US government still permits the needless bulk collection of everyone’s internet communications by the NSA, all for “security” (whose?). After the Bolshevik revolution, communism became taboo in the US with the J.E. Hoover FBI squashing resistance for decades. Consequently, it has been rebranded as “social reform” and socialist policies (F.D.R., J.F.K., L.B.J. and such presidents). It’s easy to argue for idealistic systems, but people forget that when anything is put in practice, the one variable causing all of the problems hasn’t been fixed: the wickedness of a human. That brings us to an interesting point.
Standing and watching the real events take place were three “gods”. The first was the communist state, the self-proclaimed god that dictated the lives of the people. The second was the “Goddess of Democracy”, a statue constructed by the students of the protest (which survived, or perhaps as a replica). The third was the real God.
Each of these “gods” was in some way part of the events, and each one called out for action.
China was undergoing numerous changes in the 1980s, spurred on in part by economic changes and doors opening after the death of Mao Zedong. The democratic-in-republican-clothes President Ronald Reagan had a globalist policy that built up China inasmuch as he had to be the public enemy of the devilish Soviet Union.
The Chinese government at the time was thus occupied by mixed parties with differing interests, including those pushing for “bourgeois liberalization” and hardliners who wanted to maintain status quo. While the protests lasted for seven weeks, the government officials argued about what to do. Eventually, the hardliners forced others into cooperation or out of the way. Brutality is the adulthood of bullying, so it should be no surprise that the most forceful individuals were also the most wicked. (Summary of events.)
For the students, the leader was no longer the state. Instead, it was an ideal of freedom, symbolized for some of them by their “Goddess of Liberty”. In scary irony, their bodies would soon come to resemble the god they served: white and lifeless.
In both cases, however, the third god was doing as He had always done: forcing a choice between good and evil.
Humans have a funny problem. When comfortable, they do nothing. Consequently, problems continue unfixed and growth stagnates because people are too disinterested or too fearful to leave their comfort zones. For example, in comfortable societies, people tend to become skeptical, atheistic, and meander spiritually, not dedicated or zealous for anything. When things start to go badly sour for some reason, suddenly people are aware they need some higher power or protection. After 9/11/2001, one Catholic priest said for Catholics, “Our stock was never higher [than then]!”
Dramatic moments in our lives force us out of our comfort zones to answer the question: Will you become more good or more evil? You can’t remain. To remain is to ignore, and it’s impossible to ignore the problem forever.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
~ Revelation 3:15-17 NIV
China was starting to run too smoothly, but the God-given desires for freedom and truth forced it to a crossroad. God forced the Chinese government to choose between more authoritarianism or more democracy. The students had to choose between freedom because of protest or silent cooperation, but they chose their god poorly.
Ironically, God had a plan in all of it, and it’s all turning out for good. How’s that possible?
The Divine Paradox
People put too much stake in this life. This life is passing away. You will eventually die, but not having that thought at the forefront of your mind frees you to be skeptical and meandering. When your freedom is unlimited, you may start to consider any burden (including those of religion, morality, and law) as contrary to your interests. At this point, humans start to become immoral unbounded by the gravity of reality.
The gravity of reality is that we’re animated blobs of butter on calcium sticks with the ability to perceive a world and think rationally. We’re weird entities. Why are we here? What happens when we die? Are we supposed to be doing something right now? If so, what?
That gravity of reality starts to return when the shallow hopes and dreams of this life start to fade away. When freedoms are suppressed, privacy is invaded, property is limited, and death is the tempting yet haunting alternative, people start looking for hope.
For many people, the hope would seem to be changing the government. But when the government doesn’t change, where does one turn?
June 2, 1979
A mere 10 years and 2 days prior to the modern crossroads of China, then Pope John Paul II arrived by airplane in communist-held Poland behind the Iron Curtain in one of the most famous events of modern times. Despite the communist’s tactics to squelch interest (including banning the event from television and calling the pope an “enemy”), more than a million people showed up to see the pope.
In the middle of Warsaw, the Pope gave a message on the day before the celebration of Pentecost, after the disciples had been scared in the upper room and Jesus had returned to them to give them joy and courage. The communists feared he might promote a rebellion, but contrary to that, the pope gave a message of hope, and he asked the people if they accepted their obligations to be witnesses of Christ and His resurrection.
With one voice, they yelled, “WE WANT GOD!” Chanting it over and over, “WE WANT GOD! WE WANT GOD!”
And with that, the sun began to set on the Soviet Union.
Today, Poland is over 90% Catholic (various sources differ). In Russia, the percentage of Christians rose from 31% in 1991, the year of the fall of the Soviet Union, to 72%. (It’s likely that, given that people over 70 years old are more religious, they probably hid their views publicly during the communist era and perhaps for awhile until they were sure it was dead.)
The Church In China
The church in China has grown much stronger as the years have passed. Even though authoritarian regimes try to squash hope by establishing atheism (as the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Mexico have done), the government of China can not ignore religion; the religious are too numerous (outnumbering the Communist Party members), and religion is seen as the downfall of communism. Consequently, the government has allowed certain religions but has established registries that churches must be on in order for them to legally practice. A number of churches refuse to register, knowing that the government will only spy on their members, limit their freedom of speech, and dilute their message of hope.
Chinese Christians have become very bold as a result of their convictions, and though many hide, some (such as Early Rain Covenant Church) are willing to stand in the face of eventual persecution. It is said they are even praying for persecution in the United States to help the faith grow here. It seems their prayers are being answered.
Such is the paradox of God: A good God permits evil so as to enable the bringing about of an even greater good. Truth cannot be stopped. All things will eventually come to light.
Eyes Can’t Stay Closed Forever
The Chinese government is doing everything they can to prevent the people from China from even mentioning anything remotely related to the events, including the very date, by using strict censoring, automating the censorship on a massive scale. The younger generations of Chinese don’t know anything about these events and only hear about them in passing or muttered reference.
There’s a bit of an irony about this policy, however. God has blessed the youth with energy and curiosity while the old become decrepit. As the old regime in China ages, they will be unable to enforce their policy of complete silence on democracy, freedoms, and June 4, 1989. The new, young soldiers won’t understand the significance of the date, and people won’t see any reason for it to be taboo. Gradually, people will begin to remember what it meant, but by then, the words about it will have begun to circulate all over again. Even if that doesn’t happen, one thing is certain:
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
In as much as the Chinese government has tried to suppress freedoms, they have allowed the standard of living to rise and technology to infiltrate, opening the doors to information. They now realize their open policy is backfiring on their web of lies. People are expecting more, demanding more, craving for more freedom, education, and information. The innate God-given desire for truth cannot be squashed.
The businesses of the United States are responsible both for China’s increase in communist power as well as its incidental down shift. And now with the Trump tariffs, the Chinese government again has a fated choice.
Tyranny can only be held by lies, lies of pay, lies of good living, lies of historical prominence, lies of superiority. When endless suffering and decline happens, reality and truth set in, and gradually the lies die.
That’s the beauty and ugliness of reality, the way of God: truth will always win out eventually. You can’t defy physics. You can’t defy death. Pretending everything is fine won’t prevent the inevitable. Eventually, you will have to face the problem, no matter how much you deny it.
That’s the case with Venezuela. Their communist regime, unable to sustain itself, has collapsed into anarchy. People are starving, and its quite evident that the totalitarian regime can do nothing on its own to fix the problems. China with its abortions, aging populace, strict censorship, brutality, and hidden corruption will eventually have to face up to its sins or collapse under the weight of it.
All these events may happen again, but what will the choice be?
For the Chinese of 1989 who chose democracy, they received only oppression. For the Poles of 1979 who chose God, they received democracy as well.
I foresee good things happening in China. The persecutions won’t last forever, and eventually the hearts of the people will have turned around. The memory lives on. Every year, a candlelight mass takes place in Hong Kong in memory of the events.
As for those who fell, I’m sure God was watching over them, and I pray they’ve been welcomed into the true peace of God. Having been murdered, they no longer had to suffer through the next 30 years of communism. They did, in a way, obtain freedom – just not the kind they were initially looking for.
The paradox for us is that in choosing God, we’ll find a better freedom: control over our own minds, freedom from fear, anxiety, and psychological oppression. God wants to give us THAT freedom, because THAT freedom is true peace of mind.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done.
~ Jesus, Matt 16:25-27