Solidarity is about unity in peace and love. Even when suffering injustice, as it happened to Tai Ji Men, we can still find it inside ourselves.
by Camelia Marin*
*A paper presented at the webinar “Learning Solidarity from Tai Ji Men,,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on December 20, 2023, United Nations Human Solidarity Day.
An article already published in Bitter Winter on December 26th, 2023.
The current state of the world amidst wars and suffering raises important questions about solidarity among human beings. Being in solidarity is not just feeling sorry or happy for others but feeling their pain or happiness ourselves and acting for the good of others. Solidarity requires peace and harmony. Where there is no peace, there is no solidarity.
Peace is now very much challenged. The world is facing an overall and generalized state of conflict. It is interesting to note that this aggravating state of conflict has been taking place despite many efforts to promote peace. In fact, the last decades have seen more “peace-making efforts” than ever before. Solidarity has been proclaimed in diplomatic peace negotiations, summits, the work of peace envoys and international mediators, U.N. resolutions, and even military “peacekeeping” forces. Nevertheless, the global state of conflict is only getting worse. Upon a lucid examination, we may find that, in fact, the vast majority of these “peace-making efforts” have achieved nothing except more conflict. At best, they have suppressed one conflict causing it to migrate to a nearby area, mutating and manifesting itself in another way, or breaking out sooner or later with even greater intensity. This is a high price to pay for our lack of willingness to learn from history and to transform our perspective by looking at the universal principles of life.
Therefore, to achieve solidarity with a true and lasting peace, what is needed is a transformation of the way in which we think. To find the solution, we must first transform our perspective and establish a new and better system of thinking.
In our society, even the concept of solidarity refers to a problem. Often, solidarity is perceived as the mere defense of shared interests and objectives in the political arena or the workplace. When we see in the news a group of citizens protesting, marching in a group, holding up signs, and chanting slogans, we understand they are in “solidarity”with each other, or united behind a common goal or purpose. This meaning of the word is used most often to describe a sense of unity within a political group, striking workers, or people who have been deprived in some way of their rights.
It is important to broaden the perspective, so that solidarity may become a call to recognize each individual person as part of one human family—regardless of ethnic, national, racial, gender, economic, political, or ideological differences.
International Human Solidarity Day is a day to celebrate our unity in diversity. Unity always takes place at the superior level—the level of essence, which still allows diversity at the inferior mundane levels. We understand that the differences between people appear on the background of the essential unity. Thus, diversity is realized in unity; and at this level, humanity can live according to the universal principles of the Manifestation.
When we respect within our own beings the principle of unity, we manifest an attitude of authentic generosity, good will, and altruism towards everybody. We should care about the needs of others as we do about our own needs. We will, therefore, find solutions that will benefit all. Peace is a natural outcome of this principle in action, which enables us to perceive all as part of one large family of nations—the family of humankind.
When we speak about solidarity as unity, we also speak about peace and harmony between all parts of the system, i.e., of unity. Peace is not seen as something that can be decided or imposed from the outside, since peace is not merely the absence of conflict; it is an inner state. Peace can only appear if we choose it within us. It implies that a diplomatic agreement is not enough to create peace; it has to be accompanied by a choice for peace that would appear as conscious and persuasive for the people involved.
To start creating peace, we do not need to wait for a new diplomatic treaty to appear. This is something that we can choose for ourselves whenever we want. Even if the external conditions seem to be unfavorable, even if we are surrounded by violence, we remain free inside of us to choose our actions and attitudes. Peace is always available for us if we choose it.
This is the example we learn from Tai Ji Men’s spiritual community. Their teachings and practice, their kindness, and their wish for peace, love, and conscience make them united, and manifest solidarity inside the group. Their example becomes more and more visible, and others are inspired by them and join their network of solidarity.
Beyond all the persecutions and challenges they faced, the belief and manifestation of their inner peace and love made them stronger. With their example, I am more confident that a growing number of people will join the work of producing a beneficial spiritual transformation of our reality by bringing true peace to a world that needs it so much. This transformation begins inside each of us, and then it is up to us to build the bridge that will allow this reality of peace to flow from inside of us out into the world around us, creating genuine human solidarity.
When I visited them in Taiwan, I understood that Tai Ji Men Shifu (Grand Master), Dr. Hong Tao-Tze, and his dizi (disciples) did not accept to pay some unjust taxes silently and move further with their practice. They refused to compromise and stood for the rights and freedoms of all spiritual communities in Taiwan.
Today, on International Human Solidarity Day, we can learn solidarity from Tai Ji Men. I refer to solidarity in elevated and elevating ideals, in peace and love. And all these come when the human being is free to choose them.
Human beings have a limited degree of free will based on their level of consciousness. The higher our perspective on things, the freer we are. This freedom is always ours, and no one can take it away from us. Even in the face of death, or when confronted with the intense, challenging experiences Tai Ji Men have faced for twenty-seven years—we are still free to choose the way we want to face them.
After years of investigations and court trials, on July 13, 2007, the Supreme Court found Tai Ji Men not guilty of fraud, tax evasion, or violation of tax codes. Yet the National Taxation Bureau continued to issue unjustified tax bills to Tai Ji Men and later even transferred the case to the Administrative Enforcement Agency, with the result that land regarded as sacred by the movement was confiscated, unsuccessfully auctioned up, and seized in 2020.
In 2009, all defendants had been awarded compensation for wrongful imprisonment. Yet, the illegal tax penalties were not corrected.
Still, after the Supreme Court decision of 2007, Dr. Hong and his dizi continued to be harassed in Taiwan in several ways, particularly through ill-founded tax bills. The Tai Ji Men case has become a national Taiwan tax law and human rights issue. It is not a private problem of Dr. Hong; it is a case raising a question of principle, of justice, and of freedom of religion or belief.
For 27 years after its case started, by continuing to speak about peace, love, conscience, Tai Ji Men has been teaching us solidarity both within its spiritual community and among different spiritual communities that support each other, as well as between states and cultural traditions. Today, learning solidarity from Tai Ji Men may help society and humanity to become more harmonious and peaceful.