Cui Weiping: Why Do We Need to Talk About June 4th?

cuiweipingDuring Mother’s Day weekend on May 10th, a number of intellectuals in Beijing organized a seminar discussing 20 years of the democracy movement in China. The seminar started with a moment of silence, paying tribute to the .

(崔卫平), professor at the Beijing Film Academy presented the following text at the seminar, from her blog, translated by Linjun Fan:

为什么要谈“六•四”?——“2009•北京•六四民主运动研讨会”论文
作者:崔卫平

Why do we need to talk about ? A paper for 2009 Beijing Democratic Movement Seminar

Cui Weiping

下面是我十年前写给朋友的信。我与对方在交换意见——这么长时间,我们对于“六•四”集体保持沉默,实际上是参与了隐瞒这桩罪行。如此做法已经使得我们每个人,对于这件事情有了一定的责任。

Below is a letter I wrote to a friend ten years ago. I was trying to communicate my point to him: We have kept silent about June 4th collectively for such a long time that we are actually participating in concealing this crime. Such a practice has made each one of us somewhat responsible for the problem.

这种沉默带来的后果是无法计算的。我们在这件事情上绕着走,意味着在其他事情上,也同样采取了绕着走的态度。因此,如何来估量我们的工作、我们的言说和各项成果呢?我们如何向他人说明——我们的头脑是忠直的、我们的语言是忠诚的,因而是值得信任的?

The consequences of this kind of silence are incalculable. The fact that we skirted around the issue implies that we have adopted a similar attitude towards other issues. Therefore, how could we evaluate our work, our words, and various achievements we’ve made? How could we testify to others that our mind is honest and our words are truthful and reliable?

在“六•四”二十周年之际,我愿意公布这封信,向周围所有朋友提出这样的问题:二十年来的沉默和隐瞒,给我们社会带来的负面影响是什么?给我们民族的精神和道德带来怎样的损害?而我们自己在工作、生活中所受的损失又是什么?我们还打算继续沉默吗?

On the 20th anniversary of June 4th, 1989, I’d like to publicize the letter, and raise this question to all my friends: What kind of negative impact has it had on our society for us to keep silent and to conceal the event for two decades? How has it harmed the spirit and morality of this nation? What kind of losses have we suffered in our own work and life? Are we still intending to continue this silence?

如果再过十年,情况还是这样,那么“六•四”就不是少数人作恶,而是我们所有人都参与的一桩恶行,变成我们所有人的羞愧和耻辱。尤其是我们民族各行各业的精英们,对这件事情应该首先负起责任。让良知发出声音,才是我们民族道德重建、社会重建的起点。(2009年5月9日)

If the situation remains the same for another ten years, June 4th will no longer be a crime that was committed by a small group of people, but one that we all participated in. It will become a shame on all of us. We, especially the elites from all walks of life in this nation, should take primary responsibility for the problem. Let our conscience speak. It’s the beginning point for us to rebuild the morality of our nation and to rebuild our society.
May 9, 2009

ZY你好:
……
整整十年了,我们几乎所有的人对此都三缄其口,在各种场合甚至私人场合人们都不谈论这件事(我本人也一样),当然这其中有许多必然的理由。至少人们这样认为:不谈这件事,正是为了做其他的事情,而其他那些事情也是有意义的。情况的确是这样。这些年来,我们的思想界文化界向前发展了许多,如果偶尔回顾八十年代的情况,那么更能够感受得出,今天人们的头脑更加开阔,思路更为清晰,资源更为丰富,所做出的成果也更多更扎实。

Hello ZY,
……
It has been a full decade that all of us remained silent on the issue. We didn’t talk about it on any occasion, not even on private ones. I myself was no exception. Obviously there were many good reasons for this. At least people believe that we refrain from talking about it in order to engage in other things, which are also meaningful. It is indeed the case. We have made remarkable progress culturally and intellectually in the past years. If we look back on the 80s once in a while, we feel very strongly that people nowadays have broader horizons, clearer minds, richer resources, and are better grounded in making more achievements.
  
也正因为如此,我们将如何继续下去?通过什么样的依据表明,我们那些写在字面上的东西具有一种真实的意义?如果我们所说的所写的,没有任何一种行为来与之相关联相比照,怎么对自己所做的工作做出恰当的评价,尤其是当我们的生活中隐藏着如此一个巨大的秘密?

Exactly because of this, we need to consider how we should continue on this path of progress. How can we prove that the words we write convey truth and real meaning? If what we write and what we say have no links or comparison to any actual behavior, how is it possible for us to properly assess our work, especially when such a huge secret is concealed in our life?

时间长了,这个巨大的秘密甚至成为一个巨大的虚空。人们都在回避它,绕着它走,尽量小心翼翼不去触碰它。但有了这样一种经验和习惯,是不是我们在别的地方也在绕着走,回避真正的问题?因为我们放弃在这个问题上坚持,那么同时我们也放弃了其它许多有价值有意义的东西?我们到底失去了多少本来应该拥有的可能性和现实性?我们的头脑是否真的如我们所想象的那样自由和开放?我们的语言是否具有真正意义上的忠直和实在?在这种情况下,我们如何能宣布说一种观念真的是我们自己的观点?

Since it has existed for so long, this tremendous secret has become a huge emptiness. People try to avoid it, shun it, and act carefully not to face it. Having acquired such a habit, are we also shunning real problems in other areas? When we give up our insistence on this issue, are we giving up many other things that are valuable and meaningful at the same time? How many possibilities and realities we have lost that we could have possessed? Is our mind really as liberal and open as we believe it to be? Are our words truly honest and real? Under these circumstances, how can we declare that a particular viewpoint is truly our own?

这个秘密实际上象一种毒素一样毒化着我们身处其中的周围的空气,影响我们全部的生活和精神。当我们选择阻力最小的那些方面释放自己的能量时,实际上我们都被迫参与了隐瞒真相,被迫和某种东西“保持一致”,参与那种权力游戏。如果说十年前那桩流血的罪行不是我们造成的,但十年来我们对此不置一词(尽管有太多可以解释的理由)已经使得我们对这件事负有了某种责任。正象对待那些受难者家属和受害人本人,夺走他们的亲人和伤害他们的是另外一些人,但这些人目前仍然处于某种隔离状态,我们看不见他(她)们的面孔和听不见他(她)们的声音,对此我们是否也要承担一点点?

This secret is actually like a poison that has contaminated the air we breathe and our whole life and spirit. When we choose to release our energy on the things that face the least opposition, we are actually forced to participate in concealing truth. We are forced to be aligned with the government and to take part in their power game. When we say that we did not cause the bloody crime to take place ten years ago, the fact that we did not say a word about it over the past ten years has made us somewhat responsible for the problem. It was not us, but some other people, that inflicted suffering on the victims and their family members. However, don’t we need to shoulder a little bit of responsibility towards them as well, because they are still being isolated from the general public, and their faces and voices are not known to us?

容许自己的生活中存在这样的虚空,在很大程度上已经使得我们在伦理上变得有些模糊不清,甚至不伦不类,在这件事情上放弃评说的界限(哪怕是暂时的)使得我们也放弃了在许多其他事情上评说的界限,或者将这些界限弄得十分含混。如此我们作为一个人基本立足点的那些方面便显得有些可疑,我们生存的底线已经受到攻击和发生动摇,我们自身的尊严已经面临严重的挑战。

To allow such a hole to exist in our lives has made our ethics blurry and problematic to a large degree. When we give up our ground on commenting on this issue (even if it’s temporary), we have given up our ground on making comments on many other things, or we have made our grounds ambiguous. Thus those things that act as pillars of our life become dubious. The bottom line of our existence has been attacked or shaken. Our own dignity has been severely challenged.

十年来被迫的沉默实际上是有些屈辱的,我们的生活和精神都带有这种屈辱的印记,不是说我们不能忍辱负重,但时间太长了,这种屈辱应该有个限度,因为我们的忍耐是有限度的,超过这个限度将使一切变得面目全非,真假莫辩,乃至将我们的精神和生活驱逐至一种十分虚无的境地。毫不夸张地说,我们目前已经面临着这样的危险。我们何以再往前跨出一小步?做出某种真正意义上的建构而不只是提及某些东西?简言之,即整整十年我们对“六•四”这件事不去谈论是有足够理由的,但事到如今,再如此继续下去就变得没有理由了。我们得为十年以来我们已经背负上的东西承担责任,为我们自己的生活免遭虚无的伤害承担责任。

It’s humiliating for us to be forced to be silent for ten years. Our life and spirit have been imprinted with this humiliation. Sometimes we have to suffer disgrace and insults (to carry on our life and work). However, it can not be too long, because our endurance has a limit, beyond which things will be changed beyond recognition. Our spirit and life could be expelled into an empty state. I can say without exaggeration that we are faced with such a danger currently. How can we continue to take a step forward? How can we do some truly constructive work, instead of just mentioning certain things? To put it simply, even if there were adequate reasons for us to avoid talking about June 4th for a whole decade, we can not continue doing this. There is no more reason for it. We have to take responsibility for the things we bear for the past ten years, and to prevent the harm of emptiness from affecting our own lives.

陀思妥也夫斯基笔下的拉斯柯尔尼科夫(见《罪与罚》)后来终于发现,如果他不说出那件事,对亲人和朋友他就没什么可说的;如果他不能倾吐衷肠,那么他所说的一切都只能是谎言和掩盖。我们虽然不象拉斯柯尔尼科夫那样自己的手上也沾有血迹,但十年的沉默累积起来的东西使得我们也到了必须要谈谈这件事的时刻了,否则我们不能挽回自己的生活及其尊严,更何谈精神上的自由和创造!

In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov eventually realized that he had nothing real to say to his family and friends if he did not talk about the murder. Without the confession all he said would just be lies and cover-ups. Although we are not like Raskolnikov and we do not have blood on our hands, we have come to the point of time that the things accumulated in the past decade’s silence are prompting us to talk about June 4th. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to save our life and dignity, not to mention spiritual freedom and creation.
  
当然不只是仅仅从我们自身出发。我们只要稍稍看一下周围的现实,看看报纸及各种媒体上登载的大大小小的可以说是遍地的暴力,就不能不联想到,所有这些暴力直接间接地以各种方式和那件巨大的暴力有着某种联系。在我们这片土地上,甚至用人们一般所说,在这片土地的“心脏”,曾经发生过那样肆无忌惮的暴力,对于无辜的青年以及广大人民的信念和要求那样粗暴的践踏,并且迄今都没有做出正当的评价,竟然允许那些在众目睽睽之下行使暴力的人逍遥法外,甚至继续作威作福,这实际上等于在全社会的范围之内鼓励犯罪和暴力行为。

Apparently I am not talking about this just for the sake of ourselves. We would find that violence is prevalent across the country if we paid a little bit of attention to reality and read the newspapers. I can’t help but thinking that all the violence is directly or indirectly related to that massive violence. That kind of blatant violence once took place on this land of ours, and at the “heart” of this land. The beliefs and demands of innocent young people and a large number of the general public were brutally trampled on. And no justifiable assessment has been made of it so far. Those who used violence in broad daylight are free from punishment and continue to ride roughshod over the people. In fact this is equal to encouraging crime and violent behavior throughout society.

对于那样一个巨大的暴力不去修正和限制,怎么能阻遏这之后随时随地发生的那些较小的暴力?实在难以计算,有多少人是这十年以来骤增的暴力犯罪的牺牲品?同样也难以衡量,不得不目睹和忍受周围众多的暴力的人们,如何逐渐丧失了对于生活本来拥有的信心和原则,陷入某种麻木和冷漠当中,以及感受到自己的安全也是处于不堪一击当中?有谁能够保证,类似的可怕的暴力肯定不会在某个时刻降临到他自己头上?

If we do not change and put limits on such massive violence, how are we able to stop the subsequent lesser violence that takes place on every corner and at any time in the country? It’s hard to calculate how many people were the victims of the violence that suddenly skyrocketed in the past decade. It’s also hard to estimate how many people, those who have witnessed or suffered violence surrounding them, are gradually losing their confidence and principles in life, falling into numbness and apathy, and feeling that their own safety is extremely fragile. Who can guarantee that similar horrible violence will not fall upon himself some day in future?

哈维尔曾经具有远见地指出某种延误所造成的难以想象的后果,因为长期压抑不能释放形成的难以支付的超额负担,因为人们的头脑和精神长期倾斜引起的怨恨、愤懑以及互相仇视、敌视,包括急于要寻找一个报复对象。整整十年了(其实远远不止十年),我们的生活到底滑出多远?我们失去了多少本来可以抓住或挽回的机遇?甚至我们是否还能够找回一些基本的起点,区分一些基本的界限,把搅混多年的浊水加以澄清?为此我们得花上多少年力气?看看周围,很容易感受得到人们因长期的羞辱产生的种种消极、负面、压抑的情绪,但往往是这些情绪找不到恰当的输出对象,人们为另外一些事情轻易地大光其火,该说出的那件事或通往所有这些事情根部的那件事始终不能说出来,我们为此付出的时间和代价都已经足够了。

Havel once pointed out far-sightedly that certain delays (on solving problems) would cause unimaginable consequences. The extra burden came into being because of long-term suppression of the resentment, anger, mutual hostility, and hatred accumulated in people’s mind and spirit, including the urge to seek a target for revenge. A full decade has passed (it’s been more than 10 years, actually), how far has our life slid? How many chances have we lost that we could have taken hold of? Are we even able to find some basic beginning point, to draw some basic lines, and to clarify the waters that have been made muddy for so many years? How many years will it take for us to make the effort to have it happen? Look at the people around us; we could easily feel their passive, negative, and depressed emotions caused by years of humiliation. Often because of a lack of a proper target to release those emotions, people become easily angered about something else. It’s because they are not able to talk about the matter, the one thing that underlies all those problems. We have paid enough of a price for so long for this.

我本人从来未敢忘怀这样的看法,知识分子所做的工作,首先是文明和创造的事业,是为人类精神文明的大厦(自由精神的集中体现)添砖加瓦,当然这项事业需要很多前提,甚至需要许多他人的工作做为铺垫。在很大程度上,我们太有理由把眼光仅仅限制在自己所从事的专业范围之内,在其中有长足的进步和发展。但在中国目前的情况下,并不具有一个良好的文明的环境来适宜自由精神的创造和真正意义上文化的发展,尤其是当这种环境到了阻碍精神文化进一步发展的地步,恐怕我们每个人都得为清理和建设这个环境承担一部分责任。本性上人人都想坐享其成,但眼下坐享其成已经成为完全不可能。我们理想中的东西来得太晚了,它从来而且今后也不会从天而降。要么在这种尴尬的处境中时时忍受精神和灵魂上的被削弱、被剜却,直至一天天萎缩和最终瘫痪,要么挺起胸膛来说出真话,摆脱屈辱,重新找回自己做人的尊严,创造一个文明的和适于文明发展的环境。

I myself have never put aside the belief that the primary duty of intellectuals is to promote civilization and creation, and to create building blocks for the edifice of human spiritual civilization. Of course it requires many conditions, and requires other people’s work as stepping stones. To a large extent, we have sufficient reason to focus our work on our professional fields and make remarkable progress in them. However, in China’s current circumstances there has not been a healthy and civilized environment for the free-spirited creation and cultural development in the real sense. Perhaps each one of us needs to take some responsibility to clear and rebuild this environment, especially when it comes to the point that it obstructs the further development of our spirit and culture. By nature we all tend to do nothing ourselves but reap the profits made by others, but now it has become totally impossible for us to expect so. What we desire has come too late, and it will never happen out of the blue. We either have to endure the weakening and impairment of our spirit and soul caused by the awkward situation until we are atrophied and paralyzed, or we stand up, speak the truth, take back our dignity as human beings, and create a civilized environment that’s conducive to the development of civilization.

以上考虑当否,请指正。
卫平
1999年5月18日

Please consider whether my opinions are proper or not.
Weiping
May 18, 1999