Many leaders have failed to understand and respect the power of communication. When exposed, our sometimes backwards world of antiquated laws and legal maneuvering forcibly open the stench and sickness of the human soul.
This could be said of China. According to Time report Hannah Beech, just how much is a dead baby worth?
“Just how much is a dead baby worth? This week, a settlement from China’s Shaanxi province put that figure at $11,200. In early June, Feng Jianmei was bundled into a van with a pillowcase over her head, then driven to a hospital by family-planning officials and held down while medical staff injected poison into her pregnant belly. The forced abortion of her seven-month fetus occurred because Feng and her husband Deng Jiyuan did not have enough money to pay a $6,350 fine for contravening China’s so-called one-child policy. Such late-term forced abortions are illegal by national Chinese law, but such violent incidents are not unusual. Feng’s case, though, was different in one key respect: a photograph was posted online of the 23-year-old lying in the hospital bed with her lifeless baby girl beside her. A horrified Chinese public rallied to her cause.”
Having lived and worked in China for several months, I understand how this couple’s battle with authority might have ended there, but access to the Internet allows millions of Chinese citizens to elude censors and read postings from fellow citizens on taboo subjects such as forced abortion, dissidents and Communist Party corruption.
Fortunately for us, technology continues to outpace the dictators. One of the reasons Egypt’s revolution succeeded with minimal bloodshed was that satellite TVs and the internet draw international attention to the legitimate demands of the oppressed and the regime alike. Raw footage can be gripping, emotional and often serves as the fulcrum to change. As the future moves forward, there will an Internet that cannot be shut off. Thus, for oppressors, you must move forward. You cannot live in the past. The once ‘hidden voice’ can cry forth, speak and demand justice.
While I personally do not concur with ‘forced abortions,’ The ‘Life Group Devotions’ did make one to which I do concur, “Protecting and defending life is like running a long marathon, not a short sprint.” But I accentuate group’s statement more broadly: protecting life means utilizing current technology to embolden the message, generate dialogue and bridge differences. It as an arena to any dictator cannot venture.
For the dictator, ‘Truth’ is the enemy. Truth cannot leaven. It’s destructive. The self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Muhammad Bouazizi, led to demonstrations that toppled the regime. It was Facebook photos of Egyptian Khaled Said, that drew attention and Twitter posts helped organize protests.
Strong-armed control over the Web is the clearest sign of political weakness. China continues to vet communication services. China employees more than 300,000 government employees in “community service management,” meaning they monitor the World Wide Web for dissent. Facebook, Twitter and sources of information like Google has been shut down. Likewise, Iran has largely closed off communication, and North Korea has no Internet access. These dictators simply choose repression when dealing with most problems. When you live life as a “big hammer,” you tend to treat everything as a nail.
From my Buddhist teachings, all our interactions must come from a compassionate perspective. It is this connection that’s the heart of mutual respect. Compassionate communication is used to advance recognition, inclusion, contribution, acceptance, consideration, and support. It is at the heart of problem solving and relationship building. As the Buddha said:
“Be aware of suffering caused by the inability to listen to others and unmindful speech, I vow to cultivate deep listening and loving speech in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or bring suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope.”
If we do this, we don’t have to worry about the Web … for we become leaders.