This is a picture of ‘Tank Man’ – the anonymous Chinese man who stood in front of an army of tanks right after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China in 1989.
Stopping them in their tracks.
I remember watching the footage on television. He simply walked out in front of all these tanks and stood there. When I first saw the video, I thought the tanks were going to run him over, but they didn’t. They stopped. After a moment of stillness, the tanks tried to go around the man. So he moved with them, staying in front of them, continuing to block their way. And again, the tanks stopped.
I was mesmerized by this guy. I thought to myself – Holy Shit! This is the bravest man I’ve ever seen in my life! He’s all by himself in front of all those tanks, yet, something about him made the entire army stop.
No weapon in the world is as bad-ass as this guy. He totally wins.
His actions on that day made me believe I, too, could change the world. He inspired me to want to stand up for peace and social justice no matter the obstacles.
He solidified in me the desire to be non-violent and non-aggressive.
For three minutes, I watched this guy brake up the violence around him.
I wondered for years how he did that. How was this guy more powerful than all those tanks and guns and soldiers?
He was just some guy with a few shopping bags. A skinny little army of one against a goliath of heavy artillery.
How the hell did he make them stop?
At the time, I knew nothing about ‘energy’ – or the reason behind how people have the power to inspire, heal, or motivate.
What I did know was that something about this guy was worth paying attention to. I knew what he was doing meant something to the world – that his actions were changing humanity.
I wanted to find within myself the same level of courage, empowerment, bravery, and conviction. I wanted to find my huge, metaphorical cojones – the ones that would allow me to stand in front of tanks with nothing but my desire for peace and make all the bad things stop.
No one knows the Chinese man’s name or what happened to him after this incident. He’s simply an anonymous man, holding a few shopping bags, refusing to allow violence to unfold in his presence.
Yet, he changed the course of my life. He changed who I was and what I wanted to become.
He single-handedly showed me the immense power of love and how it far outweighs the power of violence, fear, and hatred.
He allowed me to bear witness to the quiet, poignant, elegance of Peace.
He made me believe in myself and in my ability to help make the world a better place.
Because of him, I understand how important it is to break up violence and negativity – in all its forms – whenever I can.
I may never stand in front of a brigade of tanks and I’m certainly not spending my life putting myself in dangerous situations.
However, I have committed to living as compassionately, peacefully, and lovingly as possible – never forgetting that every act of kindness is a break from violence.
And the world needs as many breaks from violence as it can get…