Advanced Ideas about Democracy
Rediscovering Humanity's Great Lessons
In the spring of 1989, at a time of the year when renewal and transformation seem natural to the life of many parts of the planet, hundreds of millions of people all over the world were watching Tiananmen Square in Beijing. With the aid of an encircling electronic network, we were all witnesses to a great struggle for democratic renewal as it was being waged in the heart of one of humankind's oldest and most tradition-oriented civilizations. For the most part, even into the last, terrifying stages, it was a creatively nonviolent movement, focused with greatest intensity in the lives of some three thousand students who were fasting for democracy, offering their lives as a sacrifice. But they were surrounded and cared for by tens of thousands more young people who occupied the square for weeks, and all were increasingly enveloped and undergirded by hundreds of thousands more Chinese citizens of all ages and conditions, expressing a profound need for new beginnings in their nation, offering a moving and eventually dangerous sense of solidarity with the students.
Throughout those weeks of hope and anguish the spokespersons for the demonstrators made it clear that while they called for the dismissal of certain political leaders of their country, their deepest desire was for the expansion of democracy and