I spoke to my brother a while ago about the persecution of Falun Gong in China. As I was talking to him, it seemed difficult for him to believe the truth of the reports of the practitioners that the persecution of Falun Gong in China was so bad. It also seemed difficult for him to believe that Falun Gong practitioners were completely innocent. He is a very intelligent man and this surprised me. Also, he knows that I am probably one the most honest people he knows, and he knows that I have become more so since practising Falun Gong. So why was he reluctant to believe what I was telling him? I began to realise that the difficulty he had in seeing Falun Gong as innocent lay in the assumption and notion in his mind that there are always two sides to any story, and that somehow the truth lies somewhere in between. I suddenly began to understand that this concept and other concepts that may underlie people's failure to recognise the severity of the persecution and the innocence of the Falun Gong practitioners.
When we hear of a dispute between two people, there is a tendency, to assume that they are both telling the truth to different degrees and that they are both lying to different extents. I think that often when we hear of two groups and both are accusing the other of lying, it is very difficult to truly believe that one side is completely innocent and the other is completely guilty. There is a tendency to feel that there must be some element of truth in what each is saying. There is a human tendency - the louder you shout, the louder I shout. The more extreme your view, the more extreme my view. This can easily be seen in watching a discussion between two people grow more and more heated, then develop into an argument, into a heated argument etc. Psychologists have found that there is a tendency for polarisation when there are two different view points. Like an arms race, the claims and the arguments for each side become stronger and stronger and bigger and bigger.
I think that most people are aware of this tendency of polarisation, and naturally apply it when examining all kinds of examples of disagreements, assuming that the truth lies somewhere at the centre of two claims which have both become extreme through this process of polarisation. I think that people have unknowingly applied this concept to the persecution of Falun Gong in China. Whether it is human rights organisations, governments or media, there seems to be an assumption that the truth lies somewhere between the claims of the practitioners and those of the Chinese government. Thus it seems hard for some people to believe that the claims made by practitioners have not been exaggerated.
There is a natural assumption that these days nothing or nobody is completely innocent or truly selfless. We are so accustomed to profit and personal gain being the main motivation for anything, it is very difficult for us to comprehend something which is actually entirely the opposite. Yet it seems we all at some level know the criteria for something to be very pure and good, because these criteria are used when we want to find fault with something. Even the Chinese Government knows the criteria for something to be very pure and altruistic; if you examine the criticisms of the Chinese government made against Falun Gong (which are all unfounded), they are directed at extraordinarily high moral standards of virtue and true altruism. To meet these criteria Falun Gong would have to be (and in fact is) - completely apolitical, completely harmless, based solidly on rationality, making no money, having little organization, teaching people to be responsible to society, having a founder who is honest and responsible, having the people who practise it act as model citizens and teaching people kindness, honesty and tolerance etc, etc. How many things or people in society would meet these criteria? These criteria define something of remarkable purity and altruism. Such a thing is so rare these days, that we automatically assume that it is not really like this and start to examine it critically for faults. If something does not exist for personal gain, we cannot accept it looking for the catch or expecting that there is a "hidden agenda." People have great difficulty in comprehending exactly how good and innocent Falun Gong actually is, because they truly do not expect anything to be that way these days. We have become so accustomed to a society where profit, gain and selfishness are promoted and accepted as the main motivation for anything that people truly have difficulty in believing that there exists anything which is entirely opposite.
In conclusion, I see that there are two assumptions, which hold back people's understanding of Falun Gong and their recognition of the extent and severity of the persecution in China. The first is that the truth lies somewhere between two claims. The second is that nothing is pure. The Chinese government has played upon these assumptions and associated concepts to confuse the issue and to allow it to intensify its crackdown. It is relying on people's belief that there can be nothing pure in this world in order to achieve its goal of viciously persecuting precisely those most innocent people. I cannot use word to describe how sad this makes me feel. I think that we have to truly make a unique and courageous step in order to responsibly understand Falun Gong and the persecution in China. - We must accept the idea that there can truly exist something in the world which exists without selfish motives, without a hidden agenda - something truly innocent, pure and altruistic.
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