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This is the story of an unassuming electrician working hard at a city zoo. He was not known as the kind to stir up trouble, but as mounting injustice swirled around him, he couldn't help himself. He wrote and published a couple of essays expressing his beliefs - and was promptly arrested and sentenced to 15 years in a violent prison.
The man is Wei Jingsheng, communist China's most famous and revered political prisoner. His journey from layman to legendary crusader holds a valuable lesson about the strength of Vision. Wei's vision for a democratic China has granted him the courage and willpower to overcome countless unspeakable obstacles. Today he lives a free man and continues to fight for human rights.
The lesson we can learn is this: There is power and courage inside each one of us, waiting for an excuse to escape.
In 1978, Wei dared to stand apart in order to be heard. He had the nerve to sign his name and address to his posted essay. This was unheard of in a country where "many Chinese people…have even grown accustomed to being oppressed."
He spent eight months on death row and five years in solitary confinement with little light or food. He was tortured. He was beaten by other prisoners who hoped for the reward of a reduced sentence. Still he did not give up.
Instead, he wrote and smuggled out articles and letters that fanned the flames of the growing democratic movement. He took money from international human rights awards he won while in prison and supported other political victims.