Tiananmen Massacre survivor and former political prisoner Yang Jianli (right) reflects on how poetry helped him endure captivity, and how art can sustain us amidst social distancing.
First, we cannot deny that we are afraid. Admit it and confront it. Invite the fear in and examine it. Accept that, for the time-being, this is what life is right now. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting it all to end soon and suddenly. This is the life you are supposed to live right now, he writes in The American Interest:
Embrace that fact and you will probably find you are more equipped, stronger, and more gifted than you ever thought you were. Before I was placed in solitary confinement, I never imagined that I would be capable of writing a single poem, never mind a hundred poems. Though this is a very difficult time, it is also a very special time. If you are among the lucky who are able to shelter in place and work from home, it can be a sort of gift. You can teach yourself, deepen yourself, and find new value and meaning in your life. RTWT
Jianli Yang is founder and president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China, a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).