A War of Souls
Liao Yiwu [trans. Michael M. Day]
Berlin has entered into a murky deep winter, and within a few short days three major events have occurred: Wang Yi has been arrested, Meng Lang has died, and my books have been thrown into the garbage.
Both Wang Yi and Meng Lang are old friends, but I find it difficult to express briefly all that comes to my mind about them. Wang Yi became a pastor of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. In a recent sermon he said: "This country is in the midst of a war on the soul, this is the most important war…. Yet, in the human soul, they are establishing for themselves an enemy it is forever impossible to imprison, that can never be exterminated, can never be made to surrender or be subdued… and so they are destined to fail…."
Then he addressed the spiritual life, how a life without spirituality is without dignity. He stressed: "Precisely because the spiritual life is of the essence of human life, just as it is our Christian belief that it is our most irreplaceable, most precious, and even the sole asset we convicts possess. So, when this country wants to come and take away this asset, we ask the Lord to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Amen. We ask the Lord for not only this, but to also let us use our persecution to convey to Chinese society a gospel of persecution, let them be tortured by the questioning of their values. Under this kind of rule of authoritarianism, money and absolute political power, where is their dignity, decency, and freedom to be found…."
For this, Wang Yi was convicted of "subversion of state power" and his prison term will probably be no less than Liu Xiaobo received for the same crime. Given the glory of his martyrdom, I predict it cannot be less than what Liu Xiaobo received.
The "spiritual life" Wang Yi values above all else was also the life of the long-exiled Meng Lang. The Communist Party has repeatedly used repression and bribery to strip this life from each and every person in China.
People have sung this line of Meng Lang's poetry: "A child in heaven." Too obscure, too romantic, reminding some of Gu Cheng several years ago. But Meng Lang also wrote "even the morning mist is musty", and so he will roam amid this generation of ours, lingering with us.
Finally, the memoirs of several survivors of labor indoctrination/reform camps, including my collection Records of Miscarriages of Justice in China, were tossed into the garbage by the successors to the deceased Harry Wu (Wu Hongda) at the Laogai/Labor Reform Research Foundation in Washington, D.C. This was discovered by chance by Huang Ciping and Zhang Jing of the Wei Jingsheng Foundation --- and this is proof that the destruction of the "spiritual life" addressed by Wang Yi and against which Meng Lang fought until his death, is also happening in the free world, in overseas Chinese democracy movement circles in which very few people read books.