It happened on June 5th, 1989.
The students in China rose up against the communist Chinese government. The government brutally repressed the uprising. The man standing in front of the tank in this picture is familiar to most of us. He has been called “Tank Man” or “Unknown Rebel”.
The photo above is only one in a series of pictures taken that day. This man was apparently walking home from his shopping. He saw the column of tanks heading for the student protests in Tiananmen Square. His hands were full of shopping bags.
He first moved in front of the first tank, and the tank tried to move around him. Tank Man, with bags still in hand, moved back in front of the tank. Tank Man then actually got on top of the tank and talked to the tank commander. He was eventually escorted away by the secret police. His fate is unknown.
The things that we should stand in front of are quite small. Think of the many small moments when we make the easy decision instead of the right decision. It is the small things that no one sees, in aggregate, that are bigger than any tank. That is where most people privately struggle.
Why don’t we stand?
Because the small things are usually invisible. The small things don’t carry a high price. Nobody knows it but you and nobody feels it but you.
Like Tank Man, when the opportunity arises, have courage and stand in opposition. There is something indefinably noble about making a decision, digging in and standing in front of what you know is not right.