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A Hero of Our Times

June 29, 1997|ARTHUR MILLER | Arthur Miller staged his play, "Death of a Salesman," in Beijing in 1983

The Chinese government has decided in its wisdom to draw the soul out of a man and then try to jam it back into him with totally different opinions and views of himself and the world. Having failed to accomplish this extraordinary feat with a prison sentence of 15 years, they slapped him with another sentence of 14 years. Thus, if he won't accept a new soul, the solution is to murder the one he was born with by depriving him of proper food and medical care. And that is what they have been doing.

I have worked in China as the director of "Death of a Salesman" and learned to respect and value greatly my friendships with Chinese people. I am convinced that for most of them by far, this horrifying treatment of this man is a travesty of the revolution and a denial of the norms of civilized society.

Wei Jingsheng's agony is the agony of every man and woman who understands that to be human is to be free to speak one's thoughts.

Whether or not protests can move Beijing, it is vital that the man's incredible courage not be greeted by indifference. I believe Wei Jingsheng speaks for all of us in his insistence, at the risk of his life, that truth is not a trivial, dispensable, disposable thing.

In our most unheroic of times, a hero has risen again.

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